Not One Falls to the Ground…

I had the fantastic opportunity of having a dead adolescent (Stellars Jay, I think) bird end up in front of my house. It must have been a recent mishap since the body wasn’t decayed and was relatively whole. Not wanting to pass up the opportunity for some up-close study of avian anatomy, I did these quick pencil and watercolor studies.

Probably the greatest discovery for me was to find that the birds rear-projecting claw is in the same position relative to the human thumb. I guess cartoon drawings of birds leave the impression that 3 claws project forward and one projects backward, diametrically opposite the middle front-facing digit. Actually, the back claw is what your thumb would be if you sliced the tissue separating your thumb and index finger all the way to were your thumb connects to the wrist bone, then bend the whole thing back. Amazing!

deadbird_sketch

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