Mustard Seed Shot

In his sparrow book, Rick Wright references “mustard seed shot.” Never having heard of this, I was most intrigued. Remember that early naturalists, ornithologists, and their agents collected birds — the skins — by shooting them. Audubon didn’t have a good day if he didn’t bag a hundred or more. But consider a songbird: there’s not a lot of stuff there. Two Blackpoll Warblers, for instance, together add up to an ounce of weight. A blast of buckshot, for instance, would leave nothing left to behold. Mustard seed did the killing without damaging the specimen.

This was old school stuff, but in a cursory internet search, I did find one person noting that his father used mustard seed shot to get the mice in the barn. The seeds wouldn’t go damage the barn walls. Nor would a cat, or a family of Barn Owls.

There’s plenty of store-bought birdshot today. People still kill birds wantonly all over the world. Birdshot comes in all sorts of sizes, depending on the “game.” Much of it, horrifying enough, is lead. This toxic element is thus spread wantonly throughout the environment by the gun-happy sporting crew. It follows that bird killers are poisoning their children with game so tainted. Lead weakens and destroys cognitive abilities; it also seems to make you less able to control your violent impulses. All and all, it is perfect for the child abuse necessary for making future Republican voters.

The recovery of the California Condor has been much hampered by lead-poisoned animals. Condors are scavengers. With all the megafauna hunted and/or climate-changed to extinction long ago, condors scavenge the carrion left around by hunters, gut piles and whole animals that bleed to death from wounds. The sociopaths at the NRA have long fought bans on lead-ammunition. Between cashing their dirty checks from the Russians, hiring hookers and whatnot, the worthies of that fascist organization oppose any commonsense good thing as bad for the business of death. California nonetheless implemented a lead ammo ban in 2013. But that leaves plenty of other states still poisoning the future.

2 Responses to “Mustard Seed Shot”


  1. 1 Russell Manheimer October 21, 2019 at 9:37 am

    You have a gift for segues.


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