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ink wash on Arches paper 15” x 24”

Damage to a bird's central nervous system from injury or poisoning often manifests itself in a behavior known as stargazing. Affected birds exhibit unsteadiness and a backwards craning of the head. Terrible though this gesture appears, it does not always herald doom for its sufferer; it can be a symptom of numerous temporary or transitory maladies. Animals like Peregrine Falcons (Falco peregrinus), which feed heavily on fish-eating seabirds, are especially prone to poisoning by persistent environmental toxins, by virtue of their place in the feeding hierarchy. Rains wash poisons into the sea, where they accumulate, and concentrate as they rise from one trophic level to another. For example, the mercury level in the tissues of a population of medium-sized fish can be expected to be far higher than that in the population of small fish they feed upon, and far lower than in the big fish that feed upon them.