I was referring to sand dunes, trees and trails on the barrier island off the coast of New Jersey, but the hurricane didn't know that.

I was also referring to the piping plovers and other shore birds, mourning doves, red-winged blackbirds, the terrapins, with explicit signs posted everywhere, but the hurricane didn't know that, either.

What federally protected turned into was the feathers I collect and have collected all my life. The official list covers wild song birds and migratory birds such as geese and ducks. The list covers non-migratory wild birds such as turkey, pheasant, and grouse. The list includes raptors such as eagle, owl, and hawk. The list covers birds I have never even seen, though I'm no bird watcher with a life list. Just a person who likes to find feathers on a beach, or in my garden, a yellow feather from a gold finch, even a blue feather from a common blue jay.

So, after reading all of the intricacies, here is my understanding of the rules:

Possession of feathers- fine, as in penalty, possible jail time, felony.

Sale of art which incorporates feathers- fine, same as above, except more expensive and you should probably get a lawyer.

If you live on a farm, you may use duck and geese feathers in art to sell, bearing in mind the fowl must be banded AND you have to write the band numbers on the back of your art.

Lest you think caged birds are exempt, such as parrots, parakeets, canaries, finches, etc. (especially on the endangered or protected list), there are very specific rules on that. Even the moulting feathers are taboo.

So, in summary, an artist who uses feathers and wants to sell the art work has these options:

1. There are three wild song birds whose feathers are allowed to be used in the selling of art, the European Starling, the Rock Dove/Pigeon, and the European House Sparrow.

2. The only loophole, which frankly is so lame, is to purchase feathers from licensed farmers and keep receipts.

3. The last option, is a hoot, but something I might consider, except for the killing part. If I, as an artist, want to possess, use, and sell art work incorporating any of the feathers on the verboten list legally, I would have to get a gun license first, then buy a gun, then learn how to shoot acceptable live birds instead of clay pigeons. Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye, it is suggested in the rules that I do this with my husband. And make certain to put my hunting license number on my art. I'm all for provenance, but this is ridiculous. We have always fed the birds and had several bird baths. We have taken in broken birds, healed them, then released them.

As if Native Americans haven't been royally screwed enough, there are special restrictions for them, as well. And the final kicker, a person can turn you in and they get half of the significant fine amount. If I believed in Hell, I like to think there is a section just for them, right next to baby seal clubbers and poachers.

As always, ignorance of the law is not an excuse.


* note: after receiving several comments on this, I should point out this is not satire, and yes, some rules and regulations are bizarre, but true.

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