Monday, April 14, 2003
There. Big long journal entry done, filled with interesting links and what-have-you, and then my finger slipped onto the wrong key and the whole thing vanished.

Last time that happened I never got back to the post that I'd lost, and those questions remain unanswered to this day, so this time I'll do it all again....

this is probably not a faq. however, being a well versed scholar of lore and gods and practices, as well as being a companion to hunting animals, i wonder what your take on this is: tonight i discovered that my cats had brought in a woodpecker - one that i have seen in the last few weeks, and who had begun pecking at my bedroom window in the last few days. it apparently tried to get away, and died behind a small bookshelf. we discovered just now, beautiful, unbroken, and were left with the dilemma of disposal. what is the proper action for a hapless human to take? i thought of preserving it, passing it on to my mother, who teaches high school science to under priveliged, low iq students. they all live in housing projects. how many have seen a woodpecker? my boyfriend shot me down before the proposal was out my mouth. "you are not keeping a festering corpse in the freezer with our food!" at first i argued, feeling that because my domesticated cats killed for sport, the bird's life should be put to some greater purpose. but then i began to think that i had no right to deny the creature rest and decomposition. then the question - do you leave it on the ground, where the cats or other animals might eat it's body, do you put it in the trees, where it's living kin may encounter it? there is no right answer, i know, in this conflicted, separated world we have created to live in. but i wonder, still, what would be most appropriate, what would it want? any thoughts? i don't know how bird's treat their dead (only that they pass judgment over their storytellers).

I once handed a red-tailed hawk with a broken neck over to the local Department of Natural Resources, not to mention kept Blackie The Unfortunate Guinea Pig in the freezer until he could be given a full Viking Funeral, but am not an expert on these matters. Luckily, this journal has managed over the years to accumulate its own corps of experts, and Sharon Stiteler is the official bird lady of (In the journal entry of 3 Dec 2001 you'll find her showing me, Maddy and myassistantlorraine around the Minneapolis Raptor Centre.) So I asked Sharon...

Sorry for the loss of your woodpecker. It's hard to know what is the right
thing to do in that situation and at the same time it's an incredible
experience seeing the details and beauty of a bird up close in your hand.

The best thing overall would be to put the dead bird back out in the wild
somewhere discreet. When you go into some nature centers you will sometimes
read "Take only pictures, leave only footprints". The reason is that
something you take no matter how trivial or small it may seem to you is
something that could be used by a living creature. The woodpecker corpse
could be valuable nourishment to a variety of creatures: raccoons, possums,
crows, even hawks and owls will often eat something that has already been
killed. Also many types of insects will devour the corpse and in turn those
insects can be valuable nourishment to many passing migrating songbirds now.

Birds think in an entirely different way than we do and death is a daily
part of their survival. If another of this woodpeckers species sees it
dead, it will not cause psychological harm, if anything it will serve as a
reminder that if one is to survive day to day in the wild, one must always
be on their guard.

As for giving the woodpecker to your mother who is a teacher, that is a good
idea too, but sometimes it can take awhile to get the proper permits. In
the United States we have the Migratory Species Act which basically says
that a person cannot have any part (living or dead) of a native North
American bird species--not feathers, body parts, eggs, or nests without
permits from the state and federal government. Even if you just find these
items on the ground, legally you are supposed to leave them there unless you
have the permits. Now, U. S. Fish and Wildlife is careful when enforcing
this Act--otherwise they would be hauling in third graders all across the
country, but it is a useful tool for prosecuting poachers. Since it is
illegal to have the woodpecker corpse without the permits it would be
difficult to find someone to mount the woodpecker for display. Museums and
nature centers often have these permits on hand and usually are happy to
take corpses of birds and use them as educational skins.

Some wildlife rehabbers--especially raptor rehabbers love to get intact
corpses because they can be used to help other injured birds through a
process called imping. Most birds molt their feathers (drop old feathers
and grow in new ones) once a year. If a bird is injured immediately after a
molt and loses valuable flight feathers, it has to stay with a rehabber
until the following year to grow in new feathers. Imping is the implanting
of feathers from a bird that has died and implanting them into a live bird.

I hope this helps,

(the bird lady)

And because that was such good advice, I put up a link to, where you can get lots more bird advice, pictures, stories and video clips from Sharon. Not to mention buy birdfood and things.

And then, because it is the single funniest audiovisual clip featuring one of my friends in the whole world, I should point out that if you go to and go down to the bottom of the page, THE MOUSE INCIDENT is waiting for you. You'll like The Mouse Incident.

Dear Neil -

You gave a nice plug to the Author Yellow Pages site recently, and I went off all excited to see if it listed any of the author sites I'm associated with, and whether I could add them if not. And discovered that you have to pay for a listing - or at least, we lesser mortals do. So my FAQ is a rather cheeky "did you or your publisher pay to be listed on this site?"

I'm rather assuming not, and feeling a familiar irritation with listings sites which use free data to build up their site, and then try to charge for inclusion (and pretend to be a full directory, when actually their usefulness depends on how many people are prepared to pay...). But maybe I'm getting ahead of myself, here...

Thanks for all the other links, though - there's always something worth following through in your diary!


Sorry about that -- if I'd clicked around a bit more I'm sure I would have realised it was a pay-to-list site, and wouldn't have put it up. But I was dazzled by their listing this site above Jeffrey Archer's, and I failed to inspect further. No, I didn't pay for to be listed, but it's perfectly possible that Harpercollins (who own and run did -- or more likely, got a bulk rate for a bunch of their author websites. Sigh.


>From the information on the website of the Elf Fantasy Fair, I gather that Neil will be there both days, 26 and 27 April. Is this correct? I'd really hate to come on the wrong day and miss it...


Wendy Westerduin

It's on my schedule as both days, although I don't know what I'm doing when.

A lot of people wanting to know about the San Diego Comic-Con. Yes, I'll definitely be there. No, I don't have a program of events, but I can assure you all that if it's like any previous Comic-Con I'll be running madly from panel to signing to panel to reading to panel to signing to presentation to CBLDF event to panel again for most of the convention. If you want to be absolutely certain of getting to see/talk/get something signed, it's worth my pointing out that Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Members always get special events and so on at San Diego. The last time I was a G of H, in 1999, I read what was written at that point of Coraline, and all of The Wolves in the Walls, to about 30 people at the CBLDF members event, and did a special CBLDF members only signing.

Lots of cool stuff to read up at Their latest news story is about an American Hero. Who happens to be a librarian...