We have a saying in my house, a sort of inside joke when someone is not playing by the rules: Dead Birds Don’t Count. This comes from an instructional video I once rented from the library when I was interested in learning about bird watching. This video, sort of a cross between Wayne’s World — complete with the paneled basement — and Grizzly Adams Watches Birds and Enjoys the Great Outdoors was narrated by two avid birding enthusiasts. Encouraging the viewers to begin a Life List of birds they had seen in the wild, the hosts sternly warned that including birds you’ve found dead on the ground is considered bad form in the birding world. Before the days of the West Nile virus, and before the time we came to live in the house on the hill with the big oak tree, the only dead birds I saw were those brought home by a cat and deposited at the door step as a gift. Now, we see the tiny carcasses more often, victims of one avian scourge or another, or the big picture windows. But, mostly, we just find feathers. This one won’t go on any life list (if I had such a thing), but I think it probably once resided on the body of a mourning dove.
I like how the tree debris has been gathered by the wisps, adorning the feather.