Tuesday, September 8, 2009
The fall migration of birds has barely begun and already, two Oven Birds have committed suicide on my living room windows. I only see them in the fall and only after they've tried flying through a window. I don't know what possesses them. I have tried to prevent this with hanging plants and branches nailed to the house in front of the windows. I also have those tacky decals on the glass meant to deter birds, but to no avail. It breaks my heart to find them broken on the ground like this one. Though dead, they are, nonetheless breathtakingly beautiful. To me, they are no less beautiful than this Yellow warbler, another seasonal migrant here. They make almost biblical subjects to photograph. However, it is against the law to keep them, or even possess them, according to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. The MBTA was enacted to stop over-hunting of many birds which was resulting in decimation
of their populations. A loop hole closure in the law says that migratory birds on the list can not even be possessed dead. This is intended to stop a perpetrator that claims "Well, geez Officer, I found the Dodo Bird dead on the side of the road. I didn't kill it, honest." Where upon, the Officer says "Ya well, pal, you're the Dodo Bird and you're comin' with me!" Thus, someone such as myself (neither a Dodo nor in possession of one) who does not have some sort of license must either take a bird to someone who does (and hope they don't get busted while transporting said bird) or toss it onto the compost pile. To unceremoniously fling a thing of such gentle beauty as if tainted garbage is sacrilege. I'm not sure it's even legal for me to photograph them, which to me is to honor them. But rest assured, after I do, I get rid of them. Swear on a stack I do.
For more information on the MBTA of 1918, see these links: