not all those who wander are lost

The former Downtown Library branch of the Detroit Public Library. Now known as the Skillman Library after reopening recently. Originally built in 1931.

Gorgeous external reliefs by Corrado Parducci.

An unfortunate historic association has left this particular design a very shocking thing to see adorning buildings. An ancient archetypal symbol which spans many cultures, the Swastika is now a bone chilling echo of events that most of us would like to not be reminded of. They were a popular item in certain Deco designs, and many are used in architecture throughout Downtown Detroit. They also can be seen quite often on floor tiles in church buildings.

On a lighter note, I was chatting with the maintenance worker at Skillman, and he pointed out this crazy little fella walking across the lawn. Neither of us had seen such a bird in Detroit – or anywhere for that matter.

Anybody have a clue what this kiwi looking bird is ? ? Look at that beak ! He walked with a very slow waddle and was fairly unconcerned with our presence.

17 Responses to Skillman Library

  • Keep up the great work on your blog. Best wishes WaltDe

  • Yeah Todd – y’know the Woodcock was doing a very funny little walk while he bobbed his head. TYhe guys I was talking with says “what is he doing?”

    I just said, “well it IS spring you know.. Hes probably dancing for a girl bird…”

  • It is indeed an American Woodcock. If you and the Mrs. return in the evenings, you may see some spectacular courtship rituals. The males hover at about 50 feet off the ground and then dive bomb straight toward the ground. This behavior will keep you spellbound for quite some time.

  • Nice one DF, I was in the Skillman about a week back grabbing shots of the cielings but completely missed some of those interesting exterior features. I’ll have to go back and look more closely!

  • Despite being no bird expert, I’m quite sure that is a woodcock. Check this site, second one down on the left:

    I know you can hunt them in Michigan, but I believe you need a migratory bird stamp. Though you can probably do without the license downtown.

  • I believ the bird may be a young killdear.

  • I tried posting this yesterday but it didn’t take, I guess. He’s an American woodcock, and you can find out more info here:

  • Snipe is one of its names it is also called a woodcock. And is an upland game bird. They are migratory. Most reside in the north woods of Canada and migrate thru Detroit in the spring and winter

  • I’m 99% sure it is a woodcock. (No that is not a joke.) Snipes are thinner, though they are very similar.

    Woodcocks are a migratory gamebird that lives in some types of forests in northern Michigan (among other places). It must be on its way back north for the spring.

    It is my understanding that they don’t fly very far at once (even when migrating).

    He probably stopped for a break after crossing the straits.

  • By the way, first time poster…your’s is the BEST Detroit web site I peruse on a daily basis..your pics continue to knock me out1 Keep up the great work!

  • I believe that is an American Woodcock (and a fantastic picture of one at that). It’s a game bird in Michigan — in fact, there’s going to be a symposium on them in Roscommon in October. You were lucky to spot him. For more info, try

  • The swastika was considered a good luck charm before the Nazis came to power in the early ’30s…evidence of the symbol has been found in Europe as early as the fourth millennium B.C. Today it is still considered a good luck charm and a symbol to ward off disaster in India and Japan. It also represented the hammer of Thor in Germanic tradition. I have a watch fob from Coca-cola from the early 20’s in the shape of a swastika that says, “Drink Coca-Cola in bottles…5c.”

  • Here Snipe Snipe Snipe!!!

  • It looks like an Woodcock (no joke, there really is a bird with that name). Not something you would expect to see in the city. Here is a link to additional info if anyone is interested –

  • The swastika is also a symbol in Hinduism, meaning truth and stability. The Nazis took a holy symbol and defiled and corrupted its true meaning for their own evil agenda.

  • I may be wrong here – but I think it’s a woodcock