This is a life cast of a catbird's claw. I cast it in solid, recycled oxidized bronze here in New York City. The claw is an inch long and hangs from a 18 inch gun metal black chain. I was really pleased with the way the details popped on this piece. The talons are strong yet flexible so you can bend them to hold something. That was a bonus find. . It's a great small detail piece for someone who would like an element that can be worn everyday. It's not huge.
As always no creatures were harmed in any way in the creation of this piece.
This species is named for its cat-like call. Like many members of the Mimidae (most famously, mockingbirds), it also mimics the songs of other birds, as well as those of Hylidae (tree frogs), and even mechanical sounds. Because of its well-developed songbird syrinx, it is able to make two sounds at the same time. The alarm call resembles the quiet calls of a male mallard.
Usually a shy bird, it can be attracted by "pishing" sound. Gray Catbirds are not afraid of predators and respond to them aggressively by flashing their wings and tails and by making their signature mew sounds. They are also known to even attack and peck predators that come too near their nests. They also will destroy eggs of the parasitic Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) laid in their nests by pecking it.
Cowbirds are the bane of the endangered warblers in my area and I have always seen the catbird as an ally in the push back against them. I don't like cowbirds.
"The catbird seat" is an idiomatic phrase used to describe an enviable position, often in terms of having the upper hand or greater advantage in all types of dealings among parties. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first recorded usage occurred in a 1942 humorous short story by James Thurber titled "The Catbird Seat," which features a character, Mrs. Barrows, who likes to use the phrase. Another character, Joey Hart, explains that Mrs. Barrows must have picked up the expression from Red Barber and that to Barber "sitting in the catbird seat" meant "'sitting pretty,' like a batter with three balls and no strikes on him." Further usage can be found in P. G. Wodehouse's 1958 novel Cocktail Time: "I get you. If we swing it, we'll be sitting pretty, 'In the catbird seat.'"
You might ask, where did I get a catbird foot? Well the little bird was no longer using it . There was no deep spiritual journey with this one, nor any exotic location.
I was out in the Hamptons with my girls staying with some of Megan's really nice, fancy friends. I have yet to have my own friends with a house out there and as you may have heard it's pretty upscale. I was really trying to be on my best behavior.
I was pushing the stroller through lovely Amagansett and happened upon a very recently deceased catbird.
Now, I love catbirds. As a boy my folks had encouraged my weird bird obsession and bought me a set of field guides. I could peel off the nesting habits and migrational patterns of the entire book at any moment. These facts were often met with a sort of "oh that's nice" half smile in my football frantic town. So I'm used to the odd looks.
Anyway, I was alone with the baby who was napping and I took a chance and made my move on the dead birdie. With multi tool that I often carry in my satchel (don't call it a purse) I quickly clipped his feet. I thought he needed a more proper burial. With that thought in mind our host rounded the corner. He looked at me and at the dead bird in hand. Busted.
I figured I would just play it straight up and told him I wanted to make a cast from the feet and use it as components in my work. So you know when dealing with normal people this kind of moment can really only go two ways. He looked at the claws in my hand and cocked his head. " Here it comes " I winced, prepared for the worst. " Hmm, that's really interesting,." he said. "You know my boyfriend found this really nice turtle skull. I wonder if you could work with that too?" Whew…. fellow oddballs come in all forms.