Last week Zabrina and Tashi turned one year old. Zabrina celebrated by catching her first bird. On this particular day I left the studio door open just enough so that the kittens could come and go. I was upstairs when I heard Zabrina's high pitched, little, squeaky meow. Wondering why she was in and crying I hurried down to the studio to find her standing over a lttle bird lying on it's back, feet up in the air, eyes closed. I assumed at first that it must be dead, but as I got closer I saw that it was still breathing. Gentle Zabrina, the likely suspect, seems to be lacking the killer instinct, and so far hunts just to play. I scooped Zabrina up and put her outside and closed the door. She squeaked in protest as I left her out while I went back to tend to the bird.
The little bird, mostly black with a black beak, except for a white belly and a bit of white trim on the wings, was still lying supine. It looked whole and unharmed, nothing broken, no bleeding, all feathers intact and unruffled. The heavy breathing continued and I could see the beak also gently opening and closing, but the eyes were till shut. I watched the bird breathe for awhile as I figured out what to do. I went and found a box. I didn't know yet if I would just be sheltering the bird for awhile or taking it to the vet, but I knew a box was the first step. I put on disposable gloves and was about to gently scoop up the bird. I hadn't yet touched it, but just came near with my hands when it suddenly jumped up, landing in one fluid motion in a standing position with wings partially outspread, eyes open, looking ready to fend me off. Both surprised, we stared at each other for a moment, then I placed the open end of the box over the bird. My plan was to slide a piece of cardboard under the box and carry the box with bird to a safe location. I inched the cardboard under, opened the top of the box to check on the bird, inched the cardboard some more, peeked at the bird, and on the third time that I opened the top flaps of the box the bird flew out and swept around the room coming to perch on top of the molding of the studio closet door.
At this point there was a choice for the bird. It could fly up the stairs and into the main part of the house where it might be difficult to get back out again, or it could go the other way and fly out the studio door. I quietly slid the studio door open and stood back out of the way. The bird flew into the air and made one circle of the studio and then found the door to the outside, chirping once at me on the way out.
I felt elated with the happy ending. I allowed the kittens back in, picked up the box that I never really needed, and got back to my day. Later I found that the little bird had left a little something behind. One lucky painting had been blessed with bird poo, probably during that circular flight around the room. I scrubbed at it with water, then Gamsol, and finally sandpaper and eventually got it all off. This week I will be retouching that spot. Small price to pay.
From San Diego to Vancouver, 100 Artists of the West Coast II covers 100 artists with over 400 full color photographs of their work. The collection includes art from private as well as public collections and installations, including the collections of LACMA, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art New York, and the New York Public Library to name just a few. I'm happy to be included.