Friday, June 29, 2012


I found these really nifty old trading cards illustrating the "Useful Birds of America" on eBay -- they originally came in boxes of Arm and Hammer baking soda. Each has an illustration of a bird on the front (mine are all illustrations by Louis Agassiz Fuertes, who was an amazing bird artist), and then the back has a suggested use for baking soda and some facts about the bird. My favorite tip:  
CLEANING MEAT -- As soon as unwrapped, clean all meat with ARM & HAMMER or COW BRAND BAKING SODA solution (a small handful to 2 cups of water). This removes foreign matter and dried blood. Store on a clean plate in the refrigerator.
Close-ups of some of my favorites...
Check out the mayfly! A couple summers ago I saw a black phoebe catch a GIANT dragonfly and then spend about 5 minutes scraping it on the ground to get the wings off.

Nuthatches are awesome.

Basically, birds are useful on account of the bug-eating. 

"Like most of the Warbler family, it [Common Yellowthroat] performs a great service to man in the consumption of harmful insects."

"This bird [Black-capped Chickadee] is one of the greatest insect destroyers in the whole bird world."
Forgot to include this guy in my collage, which is too bad because it's really lovely -- see the tiny insect he's going after?

The lot that I bought on eBay had assorted cards from series 9 and 10, with many copies of the same card -- perfect for my project because I wanted to display both the front and back of some cards. Once I thought of using the clear ruler for rotary cutting to get them all arranged it went a lot faster :-). The cards are quite small; about 1 7/8" x 2 3/4", and each collage is about 10 x 12. 

Classy, right?

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