Arts and Birding

I’ve just returned from the rocky coast of Maine, where I had the privilege and pleasure of leading a weeklong workshop on Arts and Birding at the Hog Island Audubon Camp. Our group of 25 consisted of artists, photographers, and writers from all over the U.S. (plus one from the Netherlands), who share a passion for birds and the arts. There were many highlights—and I’ll share a few in subsequent posts—but here is one:

HogIs_Osprey_2015_mackay

Click to view larger

I’ve seen a good number of ospreys over the years, but never one so close. Hog Island instructor and osprey expert Dr. Rob Bierregaard and Chris Desorbo, a wildlife biologist at Maine’s Biodiversity Research Institute, banded this juvenile to the delight of camp participants. Ospreys are common on the Maine coast, thanks to the work of dedicated conservationists who brought them back from the brink of population collapse in the 1970s.

As countless cameras zoomed in, I decided to try my hand at sketching the scene. I had been encouraging participants to try quick ink sketches, so it was a perfect opportunity to practice what I preach. I went back in later with watercolor and painted only the osprey to highlight the star of the show.  I did the first sketch (top) using a photo that I took after Rob and Chris finished banding the bird and its hood was off.  I started with a pencil sketch, then outlined in ink, painted with watercolor, and finished the page with the text.HogIs_OspreyBanding_2015

A bit more about banding birds

  • Researchers outfit young osprey with lightweight aluminum bands on their legs. The bands contain identifying information which is later recovered. Banding studies reveal critical information about sources of avian mortality, where birds migrate, how they disperse, and how long they live.
  • In 2000, researchers began tagging Ospreys with satellite transmitters that enable them to follow the bird’s movements around their nests and during their migration to South America and back. Learn more >

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6 thoughts on “Arts and Birding

  1. you have really captured this moment with grace and a tenderness in the hand, just wonderful Jean. How great to be so close to nature. Remembering my fond memories of Hog Island. I’m glad your week went well.

  2. Wonderful osprey moment! I have never seen one banded like this and appreciated learning more about the process. I was part of a team in Long Island sound putting up osprey towers for nesting. So nice there are enough for artists to sketch…

    • Indeed. It was really fascinating to see the process and spend the week with osprey experts, top notch ornithologists, and exceptional photographers and artists. Maybe you would think about coming again someday??

  3. Your illustrations capture the experience so intensely. I love all of the supporting information you’ve included in this blog and look forward to following the links and going deeper. Well done!

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