Inspiration: On the Wings of a Bird

Just a brief disclaimer: This post contains pictures of a dead bird. As far as I know, the bird died of natural causes. I do not think any of the following pictures are disturbing or graphic, but if you do, please excuse them. My intent is simply to share a little piece of beauty that I happened upon by chance.

At my in-laws home in Ancón, Ecuador, we see many different kinds of creatures, but my favorite has always been the blue birds that come to share a bite or two of the bananas or plantains that hang in bunches outside the back door. They are smaller and more streamline than the blue birds in the states, and their shade of blue, to me, is more exquisite than their northern cousins. It’s always a brief source of joy to see them flitting about the yard, their blue wings dazzling in the bright equatorial sunlight.

So imagine my surprise when, one Sunday afternoon, I stepped outside and found one of these little birds lying motionless on the ground. At first I didn’t know what to do. It was whole, and seemed unhurt, so I couldn’t understand why it was not flying away. I gently scooped it up in a plastic bag and inspected it more closely. It was surely dead, but besides a small trickle of blood near that beak, I couldn’t see any indication of fatal trauma. My mother-in-law suggested that it had probably gotten confused and flown into the brilliantly white-washed walls of their cinder-block home, and I think this explanation is probably correct.

In any case, I was fascinated with the tiny, pristine creature. I instantly thought of the beautiful watercolors of birds wings by Albrecht Dürer, particularly this one. I wanted to make some paintings of this little fellow, but as you may have deduced from my lack of blog activity, my life has been in constant flux the last month, and pulling out my watercolors was nowhere near feasible. So I did the next best thing. I photographed the heck out of this lovely little bird, hoping to capture just a glimpse of the startling beauty that I found in it. Some pictures come close, but I think the dazzling iridescent blue was too illusive for my camera’s eye. Regardless of the shortcomings of these photos, I thought I would share a my in-depth photographic observations with you. Enjoy.


Okay, so I realize there are probably zero people who are interested in seeing that many pictures of a dead bird. So if, somehow, you made it to the end of this post, lucky you! Just leave a comment, and I’ll chose a winner to receive their very own dead blue bird in the mail. Nope, sorry, I’m totally kidding. That definitely crosses the line into creepy. Don’t worry, after I was done photographing him, I laid this little guy to rest under the mango tree in the back yard. It’s peaceful there, and he’ll always have plenty of shade. Rest in peace, beautiful bird.

8 thoughts on “Inspiration: On the Wings of a Bird

  1. Such beauty is God’s little creatures! I would have never been able to appreciate the loveliness of it if it had been flying. In death it was awe-inspiring.

  2. You surely realize that back home at the museum, we love to look at photos of birds. I’ll have to imagine the full glory of the iridescence because the computer screen is not even coming close. And you want to know what’s creepy?? The photos WNAN is publishing in the next issue of a gopher snake raiding Cliff Swallow nests on a cliff overhang in southern Utah. So glad you are safe, getting settled, and back to blogging.

    • Oh yes, I immediately thought of all the birds at the museum when I found this little guy, and I even considered trying to preserve him myself, but I couldn’t find any really good instructional taxidermy videos on YouTube, so I decided just pictures would have to do.

  3. Beautiful little bird. I do not have a bird field guide for Ecuador, i only have the Birds of the High Andes, and from what you say, (bananas), it sounds like Ancon is lowland, not mountain elevation. From the look of it I would say he is not a “Bluebird” although he is blueish. His bill is the bill of a seed eater, not an insect eater like the Bluebirds. Now you got me curious, i want to know what bird this is! I think he might be a Blue-gray tanager, but i don’t know for sure. In any case i highly recommend you get a Field guide, there are over 1500 bird species in Ecuador!

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