We are in the process of upgrading some materials around where I work, and as a consequence we’ve been looking for materials about birds, conservation, and the historic use of birds and bird parts in the US. I happened to stumble over this really nifty Smithsonian online exhibit:egret skins

The Feather Trade

Really interesting information!

Do you have any other resources you’d like to recommend on this topic? Sources of photos? I’d love to hear from you.

Also, a discussion point: is using a photo like this–now shocking and reaction provoking–acceptable in materials designed to discuss conservation of larger bird species that were hunted?

Posted by Gwen Pearson

Writer. Nerd. Insect Evangelist. Have you heard the good news? BUGS!


  1. Yes, it is — as long as it’s germane to the point. Besides, a photograph should always provoke *some* kind of response!


  2. This material is acceptable, but only as long as we get to discuss Mr. Sexy-Pose on the floor, there.

  3. This is just a shot in the dark – I have no firsthand information – but you might drop a note to the folks at the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge and see if they have some materials you could use. I volunteer at a different national wildlife refuge and I know from my friends on the staff there that refuges tend to collect a lot of good stuff – documents, artifacts, etc. – even though that’s not their primary job. Pelican Island was the first national wildlife refuge and was created to protect a pelican rookery from market hunters, so there’s a good chance they’ll have some useful stuff for you or could offer other pointers.

  4. It’s been a few years, but there’s a museum at the Assateague National Bird Sanctuary (Virginia) with some awesome photographs of feather and bird “harvesting.”

  5. Oh, thanks for the tips!

    And–LOL @ Durnett. Thanks, I needed that this afternoon :)

  6. This photo isn’t that different from any number of photos of a similar vintage where gunners pose proudly in front of their trip’s yield. It’s a pretty accurate reflection of an attitude held by many toward wildlife in that day, and a direct illustration of what motivated early conservationists to work so hard to pass legislation such as the Migratory Bird Act. I think it’s very appropriate.

  7. Just wanted to chime in with a big YES to whether this image is acceptable. If nothing else, it is an intriguing shot, and as us media people know, your work is not important if you can’t get anyone to read it. Ha!

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