Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A bit of Wildlife Holiday Silliness

I wasn't going to post this here, but I have to remind myself not to take myself too seriously, and accept some silliness in even my professional venues...!

Background: This is the first Christmas at my first house, and all such lovely things. We trekked up the hill a mere 400 or 500 feet from the house and cut our first tree.

Now, not one to be traditional in nearly any aspect, I had to craft a handmade topper for my tree. I knew I wanted a bird, and at the suggestion of fellow bird-nerd (this is meant as an affectionate term) who goes by Kynekh online, I decided to craft a Shrike. I went with a Northern Shrike, as they are native to this area in their winter range.

For those unfamiliar with Northern Shrikes (or, shrikes in general) they are fascinating predatory songbirds. When they catch their prey items (things such as smaller songbirds, small rodents, reptiles, amphibians, and large invertebrates) they will often dispatch the unlucky critter with their curious bill which has a hooked notch, or tomial tooth, much like true raptors. Then the fun begins, as shrikes will often impale their catch upon a sharp branch, thorn, bit of barbed wire... or any sharp pointy implement. They do this to more easily tear off bits to consume, but also to store the meat until a time when they will return and eat it.

Thus we have the Christmas Shrike; a Northern Shrike I quickly crafted from cardboard, scraps of various things and some mache. There is a lack of attention to detail and it was created quite hastily to put up on the tree in time; I'll win no awards for sculpting this bird! Nonetheless it was fun and created in the spirit of being silly. It's not intended as a serious piece.

Complete with impale-ees....

A close up of the imapled cardboard cutout critters. They took perhaps 20 minutes to make, in total.

And in the spirit of this just for fun project, I took photos in progress of how this was made to share with friends. It was suggested that I share them with all, and so here they are! Creativity can come in many forms...
Stage1, drawing
Stage 2, raiding the recycling bin
Stage 3, lots of tape and more trash
Stage 4, even more trash and tape
Stage 5, making a mess with mache
Stage 6, a beak
Stage 7, some paper feathers
Stage 8, ready to paint

I hope this was as fun to look at as it was to craft. Happy Holidays, everyone!!


  1. That's amazing, your thrown together stuff is better than what I could do given tons of time! I love the shrike theme. :)

  2. This is too great! I wish I had something like that for X-mas!!

  3. Great job.
    Loved those last 2 posts of the Eagle and Unicorn. You sure have your feather art down pat.