30 Days Wild – Day Eight

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Monday 8th June: 

Warning: these images could cause upset.

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Sharp talons and big scaly feet.

Birds seemed to be a recurring theme today. I’m going to suggest that we get some hawk silhouette stickers to put on the windows as we occasionally have birds flying into their reflections. Today I arrived to find a beautiful crow with a broken neck on the grass just under the windows. On my lunch break I went out to take a closer look. It had the most beautiful iridescent feathers, an amazing big tough beak and huge scaly feet.

Going back a couple of years… I met an amazing artist at Bird fair 2013 called Katrina van Grouw. She draws intricately detailed still life images from bird skeletons that, with the help of her husband, she reconstructs from bird remains at home. Her pictures are truly eerie and beautiful and I bought her red grouse for my home. Since then I’ve been interested in the idea of rebuilding my own skeleton at home. I felt that the tragic incidence of the crow at work along with the current 30 Days Wild campaign gave me a great excuse to finally have a try.

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This evening in my garden with Marcus I began the heartbreaking task of plucking this gorgeous creature. We let the feathers go in my closest green space (which happens to be a cemetery and one of my favourite places in Nottingham) and I must admit I had a little cry.

I did some online research about how best to start the decomposition process and keep the skeleton in tact. A couple of fellow AFONers on Facebook were invaluable with their recommendations and advice – particularly Jenny who runs an ethical taxidermy buisness in North Wales. It’s great to find people who are genuinely interested in the same things as me and won’t judge but will share their experiences. After careful consideration I decided on the maceration method – leaving the bird in a bucket of water and biological washing powder then changing the water regularly. Apparently this method gives the cleanest bone results and also enables you to control what stays and what goes in terms of the keratin beak sheath and fine cartilage. So! Look forward to future updates on this!

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I also found a fledgling great tit today that had similarly flown into the window. It was healthy, if a little shocked so I helped it on its way to sit in a tree. I know that it’s best to leave fledged birds as their parents still feed them on the ground but I was worried the crows would get it. Any how, it casually hopped from my open palm onto a low branch and then scrambled up to a good height.

All images subject to copywrite. All opinions expressed on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent the view of Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust for whom I volunteer, or any other organisation.

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