Thursday, January 15, 2015

Bird Nests

            It was a shocking day when we learned that Kim has been breaking federal law for years – repeatedly, without a qualm of conscience. I could picture her in conversation with her cellmate, both clothed in road-construction orange:

            Kim: What are you in for?
            Cellmate: I killed my asshole husband. How bout you?
            Kim: Bird nests. I collected them. Along with feathers.
            Cellmate: No shit?

            None. Collecting bird nests, feathers, or eggs is in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. There are a few exceptions: If it’s OK to shoot and kill a bird, then it’s OK to collect its feathers, which makes a kind of sense. And even though the government’s record of enforcing treaties is a bit spotty (just ask a Native American), we’ve seen enough of Orange is the New Black to want to stay out of the slammer.
            Kim’s first response was to hide her nest collection. While our friends know and love Kim for her creative and natural approach to home decoration (we also have some hornet’s nests), our house is on the market, and who knows when the bird police might walk through and call the cops.
            Her second response was more artistic: She decided to make her own bird nests. So for a period of about two weeks our daily walks did not feature cameras but rather bags to collect the raw materials. We gathered twigs, stripped some bark from trees, peeled threads from the leaves of palms, peeled the skin off of some protruding roots. We even collected a long strand of cobweb from a giant spider who was not pleased to have his trap disturbed. On one walk we found a clump of what I guess was a clump of treated human hair that had been removed from a brush or comb and thrown from a car window. We collected a few other human discards since we had seen some in nests we had observed.
            Kim retreated to her studio to start work on the nests, while I retreated to the sink to wash and rewash my hands.
            I’m not sure exactly what she was doing in there, but the results were very authentic. At one point I suggested that to make the project even more true-to-life that she build the nests only using her beak, but she thought I was joking.
            Once the nests were finished, we had to come up with names for the birds that produced them. Here are the results:

Yellow Catcatcher

Betula Thrush

Black-eyed Vireo

Lady Palm Warbler

Tiny Tree Hopper 

Savanna Pointe Sparrow

Kim, of course, made all the eggs, too

            The plan is to slowly bring the nests out of hiding, display them along with Kim’s nests, and claim that Kim made them all. But after showing her nests to a few friends, we decided that the plan would not work, mainly because nobody would believe that a non-bird had actually made the nests.

            Kim: What are you in for?
            Cellmate: I killed my asshole husband. How bout you?
            Kim: Counterfeiting. I made counterfeit bird nests.
            Cellmate: No shit?


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