American, 19th century CE
1.60 m ~ limestone
This unsigned piece is believed to be the work of a student of John James Autobahn, one of the premier avian sculptors of the New World, who traveled the length and breadth and sometimes the depth of the USA looking for unusual birds to sculpt. Quietly approaching a nest or feeding area, he would carefully set up a block of limestone, then ever-so-softly chisel out a perfect likeness of the wild creature without being detected.
As the frontier pushed westward Autobahn and his students specialized in documenting vanishing avian species, particularly what he called "nasty, useless, ugly and perverted" birds like the Chimney Not-So-Swift, which would suddenly burst out of fireplaces, its oily feathers ablaze, screaming and setting fire to curtains and furniture until it was dispatched or the house burned down around it. It was not a popular bird with homesteaders. Nor was the Great Bastard Pumpkin-Sucker of Oklahoma, the Flying Squid Squeezer Gull, or the bird featured here, the Flasher Eagle, perhaps the most perverse bird that has ever lived. Equipped with very human-like genitalia, the male Flasher Eagle took especial delight in appearing at church picnics, temperance meetings and similar gatherings, where it would open wide its wings while making a rudely provocative grunting noise.
Discovered in 1815, the male of the species was extinct by 1844, gunned down by outraged citizenry, although the last female survived until 1872. The unknown sculptor of this piece was lucky enough to find one of the very last males to immortalize, coming across this one in full display at the Laramie School for Wayward Girls in Wyoming, where it was a mascot. A vigilante morals committee hacked off part of the sculpture in 1857, after which it was allowed to be displayed in public.