Christina Baal’s time at Ucross was her first encounter with the West. What better place than Ucross, which in the spring of 2015 was designated an Important Bird Area. The rich and unique habitat of Ucross is crucial both for nesting species, like the iconic Greater Sage Grouse, and as a stopover for migrating birds like the majestic Swainson’s Hawk. And though Baal appreciates these more special birds, like the Sandhill Cranes exulting in their orange and yellow dawn-splashed dance, she is often focused on the unlovable, the under-favored: the Turkey Vulture or the Black-billed Magpie, too common to pay much attention to as it hops by the side of the road, and too aggressive to love. There the Magpie sits, atop a pile of picked over bones looking for a last morsel. Baal’s Turkey Vulture—Cathartes aura—perches on a branch, its back to us, hunched as if an old man. He peers over his shoulder: have we disturbed him in his brooding, patient wait for a free meal? Baal creates a mixture of self and bird, an explosion occurring in this en- counter, one that is without sentimentality and often laced with a powerful, darker side: nature violent in beak and talon. The Eagle is electric with its