When Birds Were Here

Rangeley, Maine, United States—For birds vanishing from the woods—Dale T. Wilson & Rebecca Schinas

The northwestern arboreal mountains of Maine are under siege. Many exhibit ghost-like trees, a result of on-going, widespread disease, or rampant tree cutting, much of which parallels roadways as well as the Appalachian Trail. Far fewer birds, especially warblers are found or heard among the dying stands and laid-to-waste logging paths. (Double logging trailers rumble through town at alarming rates. Word is out that the cuts are headed to China.)

Although a private site was chosen for our Global Earth Exchange, it held a symbol for transformation:  act local, think global. Created in silence, the bird evolved “like a prayer”, a manifestation of raw material, fallen cedar, and spruce branches, spruce cones, lichen, lupine, lily of the valley, hawk weed, moss, grasses… for a new, living breath.

Two people created the bird. We gathered decayed items and invasive grasses from a private forested area, we created a strong avian image, the Bowietta, a ziggy stardust, capable of transcending the assaults in which it is surrounded. In its ephemeral beauty, it eventually “flew” off into the dying stands and waste cuts as a harbinger of hope and beauty for an assaulted environment.

Living within these materials, passing them daily, they weren’t initially recognized as a means to give back, to return as a whole and living phoenix. But when completed, it was not hard to imagine this Bowietta anointing the sick, despairing woods with new song.

Although unsightly, many dead and dying trees harbor insects and potential upright homes for birds, particularly the myriad woodpeckers summering in the area.

The owner of the property has recently conceded to leaving many of these dead or dying trees standing, a testament to on-going life in a dying woodland.

Concept:  Dale T. Wilson
Bird creators:  DTWilson and Rebecca Schinas
Location:  Lakeside woodlands in Rangeley, Maine