The Finch Girl
Research trip to Poland
In Summer 2023 I set on a trail to meet The Finch Girl. Dr Malgorzata Kot hosted a journey that started in Warsaw University, where the girl was carefully placed in two archival boxes, and I held her tiny fingers. We then drove to the Ojkow National Park, where I crawled into the cave where she was buried, and lay in the very place where she was found. I walked on the grounds of Ojkow Castle, the barracks that housed her and her family, and I imagined walking on her footsteps looking at the majestic limestone cliffs. In Krakow I was introduced to the finch(es); one intact skull that was in her mouth, and another one that had been found a few centimetres away from her on the dusty cave floor. These fragile cranial bones of two adolescent finches replace the girl's own head, which is now missing, probably swept away by a flood that destroyed an archive in the eighties.
Thanks to Malgorzata, Michal Wojenka (Jagellonian University) and Krzysztof Wertz (Krakow Institute of Zoology), and to Martin McNamara for his camera work, and to Neil Weatherall for editing this short introductory video.