Flying Gardens of Maybe - seed bank 

2012 - present

This diagram gives a visual overview of the Flying Gardens of Maybe ecosystem.  1, 2, and 3 mark pivots points in the ecology of interruption

Presented as a wall drawing at the Sullivan Galleries and as a mounted five-foot diameter didactic at the Sminthsonian Museum of Natural History, this image other times as a


Millions of birds die every year when they collide with buildings.  During the day windows mirror the surrounding landscape, creating an illusion of space; at night they are attracted to the lights of buildings and don't see the glass.


If the birds die with the seeds they carry, then those seeds become ends without means, orphaned of their living vehicles. Hundreds of millions of seeds must never get a chance to try their luck at sprouting. It is a vast ecology of interruption.


Hundreds of birds collide daily with the glass buildings of Chicago, birthplace of the "skyscraper," especially during the migratory seasons. The Chicago Bird Collision Monitors (CBCM) work as an all-volunteer group to look for and retrieve birds that have been waylaid by our expanding architectures.


The monitors bring the birds to the Field Museum of Natural History where they are cataloged, skinned, and cleaned - feathers and skeletons becoming part of an unfortunate archive of avian flux.


The guts are usually thrown away, together with the store of seeds - all those trees and flowers to be - tucked within their bellies.  Emeritus collections manager David Willard  generously lends me his ornithological expertise by IDing the birds and saving their stomachs so I can dissect them later.


Gleaning from what the birds themselves foraged, their stomachs are a trove of bites and bits: shiny beetle carapaces, centipede legs, and seeds of every size and shape. It is a matter of collecting - and come spring, planting - them in hopes of a Garden of Maybe; makeshift eco-engineering of propagation and resurrection..


Components include ceramic vessels for the reclaimed seeds to sprout within, photographic documentation, postcards, diagrams, and the seed archive itself.

an overview PDF

Overview: parts & process


Dave Willard preparing a bird
a bird stomach
dissecting out the contents
Mourning Dove
the growing seed archive
Seed archive - another view
Mixing seeds back / forward
Feeding Forward Back Again
List of birds explored
Mourning Dove postcard
White Throated Sparrow postcard
Mourning Dove postcard back
postcard feeder

Installation view