Bird Watching, by Paula McCartney (Princeton Architectural Press, 2010)
Essays by Darius Himes and Karen Irvine
8 x 10 inches (20.3 x 25.4 cm), Hardcover, 120 pages
40 color illustrations; 5 b/w illustrations
Excerpt from the essay “Following Birds” by Darius Himes:
“I remember the first bird I shot and killed. It was a starling, a noisy but elegant black bird that can be seen peppering lawns throughout the Midwest during the early morning and late afternoon hours. I was ten.
“I also remember the sick feeling in my stomach the second after I pulled the trigger, as I watched the bird fall silently to the ground, wings folded against its side. I dropped my grandfather’s Daisy BB gun, rushing to where the bird had landed, near a tree fifty yards away. The starling was utterly beautiful, a wonder of creation. But really, what bird isn’t? Layers upon layers of feathers serve as both their costume and their means of transport—a perfect marriage of beauty and utility. I’ve read that birds see movement at such a different speed than humans that to them, we look as slow as sloths.
“But this starling was no longer a flitting, quick-moving wonder. The body was limp and its head was cocked to the side, its yellow beak polished and bright against the shaded grass under our mulberry tree. I didn’t quite know what to do, as I hadn’t really thought I would hit it. My emotions were a stew—I was proud that I had actually hit my target from so far away, but sad to realize I had taken an innocent life. Grandpa announced that we would bury it where it had fallen, under the tree and along the fencerow, beyond which lay cornfields that stretched as far as my eye could see—it would be a fitting resting place for this creature. I agreed and rushed to get the hand shovel out of the shed with as much determination as I’d had when taking aim at the bird.
“That starling was also the last bird I shot. It was, however, far from the last bird I killed. …”