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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Avian Inkling

I have been thinking of getting another tattoo literally since I got the first one, twelve or so years ago.



Yes, it's a Dragon's Fang from the Wheel of Time books by Robert Jordan. Yes, I am that nerdy. Yes, I still love it.

Potential subjects for my second tattoo have usually swung between birds and snakes. Birds are starting to pull ahead, however. I've always had kind of a thing for birds (even beyond writing songs for Nikola Tesla's pigeon) - when I was a baby, before I learned English, I would apparently try to speak to the unkindness of Australian ravens that lived in Moorooka. My mother remembered this tidbit while I was going through my all-black-clothing-all-the-time phase, which she connected with my early interspecies communication attempts. But I could never really find a raven tattoo I liked, or a picture of a raven that I thought would work as a tattoo. Other birds were a possibility too, but nothing felt like a really solid idea.

Last night, I found myself looking through Gould's The Birds of Australia: in 7 volumes, which the National Library of Australia has very kindly digitized and made available. And I think some of these would work very well. There are some that are just beautiful:

 

But I don't feel any particular connection to the species depicted. The raven is unfortunately a bit dopey looking:



But I do rather like the noisy miner (both bird and illustration):



Noisy miners are plucky little bastards. When I was a kid, I remember reading in some junior ornithological book (for some reason, we had quite a few books about birds in our house, which I usually left next to the toilet) that noisy miners were threatened by the invasive Indian myna, so I was always sure to root for them when I saw them around and scowl at the foreign interlopers. Now, it seems, they have bounced back with a vengeance and enjoy extreme and even problematic population density in many areas. This is mainly because they are aggressively fearless little dinosaurs. From the wiki:
Noisy Miner attacks are not limited to chasing the intruder, and aggressive incidents often result in the death of the trespasser. Reports include those of two Noisy Miners repeatedly pecking a House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) at the base of its skull and killing it in six minutes; one Noisy Miner grasping a Striated Pardalote (Pardalotus striatus) by the wing while another pecked it on the head until it died; and a Sacred Kingfisher(Todiramphus sanctus) being chased and harassed for over five hours and then found dead with a fractured skull.
See, horrible murderous little shits! I don't know why, but I actually kind of love them for it. It's probably an Australian thing. We have a cultural softspot for violent underdogs.

Anyway, I also quite like that illustration because they're in a flowering gum tree, and I do miss my eucalypts on this side of the world.

It's a thought. I guess it would go on the back of my shoulder. I'll have to think about it for a while. I love that it would be an actual Gould illustration, rather than just any old generic tattoo. (If you didn't know, John Gould was kind of a badass with some really cool friends.)

Yes, yes, of course, I am looking at bird books because I have a bunch of end-of-semester deadlines looming, and I have to write two essays and complete a project, and none of them interest me in the least. All I really want to do all day is daydream about our roadtrop.

ADDENDUM: I futzed with the colors to counteract some of the aging.