Thursday, July 4, 2013

Independence Day Observations

When I find a dead animal, one of my favorite things to do, if I'm able, is to just sit and watch. This isn't always possible, especially when a subject is on the side of the road or in a very public area — but if it's in the middle of the woods, or in my backyard, the seclusion lends itself well to tranquil observation.

This afternoon, while doing yardwork, I found a dead robin. It was sprawled in the grass, face-down, wings spread. The body was quite the distance from any windows, and there was no sign of predation: the breast feathers were intact, which isn't often the case when a bird is taken down by a cat or other animal.

I moved the robin to the shade and began to photograph it; the eyes were sunken and the flies and ants had found the body before me.

 At this point, I decided to simply start watching. The blue- and green-bottle flies returned, landing on primaries and down; some laid eggs, others sampled the surface. Ants large and small wove their way through the feathery fluff. 

Robin VI 
There's something wonderfully peaceful about sitting next to a dead animal and watching the world go by. The corpse is still, but everything moves around it: flies buzz, ants crawl, birds warble in the trees above. For nearly 45 minutes, I photographed and observed this robin; I felt the sun on my back, the mosquitoes on my arms, and the pine needles beneath my crossed legs. I began to take videos of the flies on the body, and in a nearby jack pine, a robin started to sing.

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