Occasionally I have reason to leave my office desk to print out labels over in the Unio room of the department. This means I have to walk out into the HMNH gallery of mammals. The lower part of the gallery is, for sure, full of mammals, and whole whale skeletons are right at eye level for me on the second level of the gallery. Contrary to description, most of the second level of the gallery is filled with birds. It’s an interesting mix since many of the birds are from a North American birds exhibit, but there are still a few cases of a more international mix.
One of these cases always strikes me when I have to go from the Unio room back to the main office for the department because in it is the most judgmental looking little stuffed bird you’ve ever seen. I know I’m anthropomorphising here, but it’s hard not to when I look at this bird. The species is interesting because their head looks big and disproportionate, and the eyes are rather huge.
I’m talking about Podargus strigoides, the tawny frogmouth of Australia. They are small, but can swallow a mouse whole… and they’re judging you.