Friday, August 19, 2016

Warning: photo of bird who "has ceased to be"

In our yard we have what we call "The Orchard," a small plot of ground that has a few apple trees in it and a couple of rose bushes. It's fenced all 'round to keep out the black-tailed Columbia deer that hang out on the property.

It's hard to mow in there and as a result, it had gotten rather weedy. I entered to do some gardening and noticed a dead towhee on the ground at my feet.

You might think "ick" and want to turn away, but I found him fascinating. The bird had been "no more" for some time, and all that remained was a skeleton, feathery wings, and tail.

Insects had done their work and moved on, leaving this guy quite bald, empty-eyed, and all his ribs intact. Since the "orchard" is fenced, no animals could get in there to do damage to the bird's body.

There was no sign of foul play, no pile of torn off feathers that you might expect to see if a hawk had gotten him. I think he simply died of old age, fell to earth in the orchard, and, before he could begin pushing up daisies, I found him and brought him into the studio.

This is him, "lying in state." After I took this shot, I ran a little monofilament line through a couple of his ribs and hung him up over the light table, where I'm hoping to photograph him seemingly "flying."

Creepy? Yeah, I can see how you might think so. But he's rather mummified, has no smell, isn't leaking any bodily fluids, nor are insects interested in him.

When I've finished my photography, then what? Well, I'll bury him under a tree. Or a rhododendron bush. Or maybe under some Shasta daisies.

©Carol Leigh
All text, photographs, and other media are ©Copyright Carol Leigh (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from Carol Leigh.


  1. Yes, I KNEW you'd think so! Hmmmm . . . maybe we should start the "Dead Bird Society!" Nah . . . Slightly over the line, methinks.

  2. Do you have this up on Fine Art America? Oh Wait I'm going to head over and see...Nothing wrong with the celebration of life with the realization of death...all part of the natural cycle.

  3. No, I haven't uploaded it to FAA. I'm thinking it might not be such a wonderful seller. But now you have me wondering ... hmmmmm ...

  4. Well I want a print of give it a try...I'll be you first customer!!!

  5. Love Natural Cycle. I'm obsessed with photographing deceased birds myself but I've never seen it so beautifully done. Probably going to have to make a purchase soon....

  6. Thank you, Røen. It's not everyone who sees the beauty here. Thanks for your wonderful message.


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