14 June 2011

Perhaps a Least Bittern (bird head sculpture standing upright on base)

Least Bittern head and beak, from Flint Ridge, Licking County, Ohio.
The artifact stands on a base with the beak pointing skyward, just like a living Least Bittern awaiting feeding.

artifact is pictured on a centimeter grid for scale and perspective
(click photo to expand)

Side 2
(click photo to expand)

side 2 standing


John James Audubon reproduction of the Least Bittern in its typical, beak pointing up position.  The flint sculpture here captures not only the look of the Least Bittern but also its most notable observable behavior which is the young clustering with beaks in the air awaiting the regurgitated food to be provided by the mother, heads swaying like the wind-blown reeds and grasses of the water's edge.  As soon as mother leaves to bring back and regurgitate food for the chicks, it's beaks up and moving to the rhythm of the long grass to camouflage themselves and be in ready position for her return.  For this reason, birds (and specifically beaks) are thought to be symbolic of new life and motherly sustenance.
The nesting Least Bittern is observable in the shore area of Buckeye Lake, Ohio, near Flint Ridge today.  When I saw the flint, my immediate thought without hesitation was "Least Bittern!!!" and then the painting on the wall of my study.  The artifact beak has a slight curve where the Least Bittern's beak seems more straight. It seems to be the closest looking species of water bird currently in Ohio and may have been the species in the mind of the creator of this piece of flint.
If not intentionally produced as a sculpture, the likeness to a bird could have been recognized in prehistoric times and resulted in the piece being set aside. The perfectly flat base and ideal standing position of the sculpture form argue for intent to create a presentable bird head sculpture here.

 

1 comment:

  1. This one has the bird in flight if you turn the beak in to the tail feathers.the bird in flight one side of the face in and one side of the face out giving it the illusion of the movement of life

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