Once upon a time, in 1979 to be exact, there was a list-loving bird-watcher who kept an in-depth check list of which birds s/he spied, and where. Thirty-five years later, I found this avid ornithophile’s documentation in a slim, orange, hard-bound list of the world’s bird species. I love this kind of memory-keeping; it smacks of my Grandfather’s daily calendar jots—just the essentials. I love that there is no key to the underlining, the red pen versus blue or black, the pencil check marks. I love the location notations, the mysterious asterisks, the editing of the author’s list with question marks. And equally fantastic is the 1979 tally right inside the front page. Can we just agree that the bird world is broad and diverse? Truth be told, I initially bought this book at the SFPL Big Book Sale with the full intention of dismantling it (in some beautiful, honorable way—I swear)! But now, I cannot. It’s a treat to browse, even in its crypticism. Now, I’m so fresh to this whole World of Birds, so bear with me when I share this nugget: when I hopped onto Amazon to see if this book had value (outside of its sheer aesthetic and divertissement), I discovered there are modern versions of birder lists! Hundreds of lists by state, by country and continent, and of course, a global list.
Back to my little watercolor birds of these United States…
Today I’m sharing Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, and Idaho.
Here is my second attempt (of five total) of the Mockingbird. I can’t wait to compare all five at the conclusion of this project. I watched some mockingbird videos so that I could learn to identify their calls. The orange blossoms appear to have thick, luscious petals—is that true, orange tree-keepers? I imagine they smell as heavily perfumed as the lemon blossoms, which are a little more common here in San Francisco. And as I drew Florida—a state I’ve never visited—I was confounded by all the barrier islands protecting the peninsula on all fronts. I’d never noticed that before, so you see, my geography is improving! (wink).
I was impressed by the variety of calls from the mockingbird, then I learned about the Brown Thrasher. This bird boasts an average of one thousand songs. Some have been documented with a three thousand song repertoire. Nature is amazing. The Cherokee Rose presented the usual white flower on white paper water coloring challenge. But a little kernel of an idea is percolating in my brain about all these birds and flowers, and I think I’ll be glad that I can isolate the imagery down the road—maybe for pattern-making or collage art.
Aloha. Hawaii marks my eleventh bird and flower page, and this Nene Goose was asking for a little change in format. I loved drawing this big bird, and her detailed eye and beak. On a whim, I tried incorporating the lei with the Hawaiian Hibiscus, and I’m so happy I did. I think it gives this bird even more personality. And while I initially regretted where the islands landed, it does have the appearance of leaves blowing off the lei in a windward direction.
Here’s a Mountain Bluebird in mid-song! My Idaho story starts five years ago, when I participated in a Brave Girls Club art retreat hosted by Melody Ross and Kathy Wilkins. I relished a journey and an art-centric retreat. But it was so much more than art. The Brave Girls Club iconography features all different birds. It’s completely fitting to have this Bluebird chirping the message that art saves us, and the act of creation is wholly therapeutic.
Right now, I’ve drawn and painted a female Cardinal that is a lovely bird in real life, but is sort of a fail on paper. It will remain in the book and I’ll share it here soon, as I’m deciding whether to remake the page for Illinois or work on the bird. I haven’t yet had an unsalvageable piece, but I’m okay with a do-over.
As always, I’m posting regular images of my progress on Instagram; follow along there if you like. Otherwise, I’ll be back soon with: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas & Kentucky—which means a few more Cardinals.