The Artist and Her Subjects
In the "Rare Birds" hall, not only were there ivory-bills on display, but Carolina parakeets and passenger pigeons, as well. Their expertly placed glass eyes seemed to gaze back at me as I sat down to study them in detail.
The first thing I noticed about the woodpeckers was their size. They were quite large, about the size of a small duck, and had skunk-like streaks of white banding down their backs. Their feet were also larger than I'd imagined, and despite being nearly 100 years old, their broad tail feathers retained a rich black color -- not dull, yet lacking the irridescent sheen of a grackle or magpie's feathers. The male's red crest was presumably a little faded, a deep flamingo red (I had this confirmed by Chad, whose color vision is far better than my own.) while the females' crest was a fashionable black. Of all the things I noted from the session, the beaks were perhaps the most surprising. They really did look like they were carved from the finest ivory: antiqued and delicately translucent, ending in a distinctly blunt, plier-like tip.
Frozen in Time
"Oh look! Woodpeckers!"
"Yeah. Pileated. We've got those kind back home."
They then walked out, with nary a glance at the parakeets and pigeons, not even pausing to read the signs that recorded their fate.