The Story of Brown Creeper S09-100


May 27, 2010

About a month ago, when I was working in the bird division prep lab at the Field Museum, I worked on making a study skin of a particular Brown Creeper: number S09-100. If you have followed my blog for sometime, then you will probably know that creepers are amongst my favorite species of birds. S09-100 had a somewhat sad, but ultimately very interesting story. In 2008, it was found injured near a downtown building. It was taken to the Willowbrook Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. The track record for rehabilitating a song bird well enough to release back in to the wild isn't so hot. Song birds are extremely sensitive creatures, and I imagine trying to treat one while not stressing it out is a tricky balancing act. This fellow, however, fully recovered from his injuries and was set free.

Hold the applause, because here is the sad part.

Almost exactly one year after he had been found the first time, he was found again, and no more than a block away from the first location. Unfortunately, he didn't survive his collision with the building. So, yes, a sad ending, but isn't it amazing that he was found so close to the original location, and almost exactly one year later? Tracking a bird like this has yielded some unique insight in to their migration habits. This would also imply that birds aren't learning to avoid the buildings, making it all the more important to continue to find ways to decrease the impact urban environments have on migrating birds. Hopefully the fellow was able to father a bunch of little S09-100s during the time between his release and return.

*watercolor above is available in the store.

Birding in Jackson Park


May 25, 2010

Last week I took an unintentional hiatus from Tiny Aviary. Excuse the absence of posts. I guess I was spending too much time outside birding and planting a native prairie patch in our backyard!

Actually, I am a terrible birder. I don't go on birding trips. I don't keep a formal life list. I have never done a Christmas Count. I am trying to change this. A couple of weekends ago, I met up with a friend of mine in Hyde Park. She lives across from a wonderful park located just south of the Museum of Science and Industry. It's historic Jackson Park. Created long ago for the World's Columbian Exposition, it is now one of Chicago's best birding hot spots. All that remains of the Columbian Exposition is the museum, and the Japanese Garden. The park has many different habitats: prairie, forest, wetlands. Due to its diversity of habitat, and being located along the lake, it supports a rich variety of bird species.

Renata and I meet up in the morning and stroll with another dedicated group of birders. We probably spend a good hour and a half walking the park grounds. I recently had someone interview me and they asked that since I live in an urban environment, how was it possible for me to be inspired by nature. I thought about this as I tallied up the number of bird species I had seen on this one outing. Once you develop an awareness for nature, you begin to look for it everywhere, and then you realize, even in an urban environment, there is a lot to see. You have to know to look for it, and then know where to look for it. On that note, here is the final tally for my Jackson Park excursion. Not bad for an urban environment, eh? Unfortunately, these were all birds I was familiar with from the prep lab at the Field Museum. These are almost all species that migrate through Chicago, and are prone to building collisions. It was lovely to see these individuals alive and well, flitting about the old oak trees and giant cottonwoods. We were even fortunate enough to see a Baltimore Oriole in its woven nest.

Cape May Warbler
Palm Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black and White Warbler
Northern Parula
American Redstart (both male and female)
Eastern Kingbird
Least Flycatcher (or some other Epidonax species)
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Baltimore Oriole (and nest)
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Wren (heard)
Black-crowned Night Heron
Green Heron
White-crowned Sparrow
Pied-billed Grebe
Scarlet Tanager

Taiga - New Screenprint


May 08, 2010

Well, it's been a really fun week working in Austin at the Decoder Ring Design Concern, and here is what we have to show for it. "Taiga" is a 20 color, limited edition screenprint on heavyweight, cotton rag paper. I am currently still curating the prints, but the edition size should end up being around 100, or just over. I'm a little sad that I have to go home tomorrow, especially since the weather has been so beautiful. The Decoder Ring studio is in a really sweet location too. It shares space with a landscaper, and so I've been surrounded by agave plants, stands of bamboo, and live oak all weekend. The print is currently available at The Decoder Ring.

Was Ist Das?


May 04, 2010

Well right now, it's a collection of vague, flat shapes. But by the end of this week, hopefully it will be a 15 to 20 color screenprint of Arctic wildlife. What you are looking at is four colors, and of course the the key line drawing will not be printed until the very end. I'm in Austin working on this print with the Decoder Ring folks. So far so good. At the very least, I can't complain about the weather. It's absolutely gorgeous here. I'll be back next week with a photo of the final print!

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