Strange Birds

To wear a hair shirt means to suffer a self-imposed punishment, trial, or burden. Those who are sentenced to prison have their punishment imposed on them from society. A very famous prison is located on an island in the San Francisco Bay. It’s name is Alcatraz. The name Alcatraz is thought to have originated from the Spanish word alcatraces for “strange birds.” There are many sea birds that nest on Alcatraz Island. It has a very interesting history. Many people are familiar with the name Alcatraz, the high security Federal prison, that housed some of the most hardened criminals. Reading a few short biographies of some of these men, I realize that their life stories would definitely make great films, and of course, some films have already been done. There is also a great sense of darkness about these men and this prison.  Al Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, Robert Stroud, Roy Gardner, James “Whitey” Bulger,  and Mickey Cohen are some of the more famous inmates. Roy Gardner was called the ” King of the Escape Artists” because he managed to escape twice while under guard by U.S. Marshalls and escaped from prison twice. No one escaped from Alcatraz.

Fake head made by prisoners in escape attempt via NPS Alcatraz Island website

Image of human head via US National Park Service Alcatraz Island website

“In 1962, three inmates attempting to escape from Alcatraz created fake human heads out of cardboard and human hair. They placed the heads on their pillows in their cells so it appeared as though they were sleeping.” ( NPS Alcatraz Island website)

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Christmas 1954 menu for prisoners via NPS Alcatraz Island website

Nowadays, the prison is empty. Wild birds make their homes on the island and they are free to fly away.

Snowy Egret of Alcatraz Island via National Park Service


Stream of Consciousness Saturday is hosted by Linda G Hill. The prompt word for today is “hair.” Information for this post was obtained from The US National Park Service Alcatraz Island website and Alcatraz History.com. Featured Image of ‘Snowy Egret with mating plumage’ via NPS Alcatraz Island website.

5 thoughts on “Strange Birds

  1. JoAnna

    When i was somewhere between 6 and 8, my parents took us to see the movie: The Bird Man of Alcatraz. It was black and white. I still remember a couple of scenes.I believe it was based on a true story of a prisoner who took care of song birds that flew into his window through the bars. I remember him studying how to take care of sick birds and becoming something of an expert while in prison.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Deborah Drucker Post author

      It is about Robert Stroud and yes it is a true story. I don’t know the whole story but I would like to read more about it. I remember scenes from that movie but I don’t think I saw the whole thing. I think Burt Lancaster played “The Birdman.”These men definitely had dark sides but some had a good side as well. Thank you, JoAnna.

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