Category Archives: Education

Taking Flight: An International Youth Bird Art ONLINE EXHIBITION featuring Eleanor Smith

We are so inspired by the amazingly talented young bird artists that are exhibiting in this year’s Taking Flight exhibition. Since we all have to be isolated to stay safe, we wanted to bring you a virtual exhibit and a little background about the artists. We still hope to have a physical exhibition of the original art, but we want to share this wonderful work now.

Today, we feature Eleanor Smith and her artwork, Northern Harrier. She is 16 and lives in Utah.

Artist’s Message

“Without a doubt, there are relatively few animals more majestic than birds of prey. Whenever I watch Northern Harriers fly overhead, I am captivated by their graceful beauty. I wanted to convey this power and gracefulness in my piece, ‘Northern Harrier’.” ~ Eleanor Smith

Eleanor Smith (Age, 16)

I’ve been making art since I was just little, but I didn’t really get serious about it until middle school. One of my favorite things about art is exploring new media.

I love to experiment with new and unconventional art forms like paperclay sculpture or block printing. 

Growing up in Utah has given me access to a unique natural environment. I love being outdoors, and most of my art is influenced by the nature around me. I especially love drawing birds; when I was in elementary school, I would spend hours walking around the lake near our house and looking for sandhill cranes and pheasants. My dad, an avid birder, would help me identify different birds, and I would use field guides to draw the birds I saw. Even today, I’m fascinated by the diversity and beauty of wildlife.

Bird and Nature Drawing Resources for Young Artists

Secretary Bird, Noah Chan (Age 8)

The Museum might be closed, but we’re still accepting submissions for Taking Flight, our youth bird art exhibition. Not sure where to get started with drawing birds? We’ve got you covered!

The goal of the Taking Flight exhibition is to create a greater awareness, conservation, and appreciation for birds while fostering the development of young artists and sharing their work with the public. Submissions will be accepted until June 15, 2020. Click here for more information.

Sandpiper, Maris Van Vlack (Age 16)

Getting Started With Nature Drawing

Advice for Young Bird Artists from Barry Van Dusen

Barry Van Dusen at Felix Neck, Martha’s Vineyard (Photograph by Sean Murtha)

As part of our annual Taking Flight youth bird art exhibition, Barry Van Dusen – an international acclaimed wildlife artist and a former artist in residence at MABA – has a wonderful blog post offer advice on how to get started for budding young artists.

Advice and guidance for artists from John Muir Laws

John Muir Laws has written several books on nature drawing. Here’s his introduction to drawing birds, from his blog. This is a great place to learn about drawing realistic, detailed birds.

Let’s Draw Birds with John Muir Laws

How to Draw a Bird with Oil Pastels for Kids

It’s springtime, so we’re always on the lookout for bluebirds. Here’s a video that’ll show you how to draw one with oil pastels.

How to Draw Birds for Beginners with Watercolors

Itching to pick up a paintbrush? This video has some beginner-friendly ideas for how to get started painting simple birds with watercolors.

A Curious Garden: Nature Story Time from the Museum of American Bird Art

We are excited for our second installment of our Nature Story Time video series, so even in times where we need to be isolated, we can still be together. We hope to bring you a few nature story times each week along with a little art project or nature exploration that you can do at home. Please comment and let us know what stories you’d like to hear, what you like about the program, and most importantly how we can improve. If you missed it, our first nature story time was Little Bird.

A Curious Garden, By Peter Brown

Our second story is The Curious Garden by Peter Brown. Just like in Liam, these days it is restoring to look for the little treasures in nature and discover spring come alive right outside your door, on the sidewalk, little gardens, and in your neighborhood. Enjoy the story.

Nature Journaling Art Project

Blanketflower, photography by Sean Kent

Enjoy this wonderful art project created by Dan Boudreau, MABA’s incredible TerraCorp service member.

As we move further into spring, more and more plants will bloom. More and more wildflowers will blossom! If you look closely, you’ll see wild gardens growing all around you. To keep track of all the new flowers blossoming, you can keep a Spring Journal. Here’s how to make one. We’ll make a flower stamp out of cardboard to decorate the cover.

Materials

You’ll need:

  • A paper grocery bag
  • White paper for your journal pages (regular printer paper works great)
  • Paint, a paintbrush, and a palette knife (optional)
  • Twine or yarn
  • A hole punch
  • A black marker
  • Scissors
  • Cardboard from a cereal box

Step 1: Making the stamp

Draw a flower onto the piece of cereal box and cut it out. I made mine in the shape of violet wood sorrel, a wildflower that grows here in Massachusetts. What’s your favorite wildflower?

Step 2: Make the cover of the journal

Take the grocery bag and cut out a large rectangle. You’re going to fold it in half, so make it big! It should be a little larger than the pieces of paper that you’ll use for your pages. Once you’ve cut it, fold it in half hamburger-style. Then punch holes for your twine.

Step 3: Stamp the cover

Take the flower you cut from the cardboard and load up one side with paint. You’ll need more paint than if you were just painting the flower itself, so put it on thick. I used a palette knife, but a popsicle stick would work well too. Press the stamp paint-side-down onto your journal cover, making sure to press down every part of the flower. Stamp as many flowers on the cover as you want. I added more paint to my stamp after the second flower.

Step 4: Put the finishing touches on your flowers

Use a paintbrush to fill in any blank spots on your flowers. I mixed two shades of purple, and used a paintbrush to dab on a few spots of the darker purple to really make them pop! Now put your cover aside to dry.

Step 5: Put your journal together

Is your cover dry? Great! Fold your white paper in half and hole punch it. Put it inside your cover and use the twine to tie it all together. You’re all done! Now you have a place to draw all the wild and curious gardens that you’ll see this spring!

Thanks for joining us and hope you enjoyed the art project and nature story time.

Nature Story Time from the Museum of American Bird Art

We are excited to announce our Nature Story Time video series, so even in times where we need to be isolated, we can still be together. We hope to bring you a few nature story times each week along with a little art project or nature exploration that you can do at home. Please comment and let us know what stories you’d like to hear, what you like about the program, and most importantly how we can improve.

“There are no greater treasures than the little things… ~ Little Bird”

Learning to Fly, From “Little Bird” by Germano Zullo and illustrated by Albertine.

Our first story is Little Bird, by Germano Zullo and illustrated by Albertine. Just like in Little Bird, these days it is restoring to look for the little treasures in nature and discover spring come alive right outside your door, on the sidewalk, little gardens, and in your neighborhood. Enjoy the story.

Enjoy Nature Story Time

“May my heart always be open to little birds
who are the secrets of living…”

~ E.E. Cummings

Eastern Bluebird Art Project

Enjoy this wonderful art project created by Dan Boudreau, MABA’s incredible TerraCorp service member.

It’s spring and that means that Eastern bluebirds are headed back our way to make their nests and raise their young! The meadow behind the Museum has several bird boxes that bluebirds sometimes build their nests in. Want to make your own bird box scene with a brightly colored bluebird? 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Watercolor paints, a brush, and clean water
  • A paper grocery bag (or brown construction paper)
  • Oil pastels, crayons, or colored pencils
  • Glue
  • A sturdy piece of paper or cardstock for your background
  • A small piece of cardstock or an index card for your bird
  • Black marker

Step 1:

Draw your bird shape onto the small piece of cardstock (I used an index card), then cut it out.

Step 2: Watercolor the bird!

First, wet the paper enough that it shines in the light. Be careful not to overwet it, though, or the paper will start to fall apart. Then, paint on blue for the back and orange for the chest. We’ll do the eye later. Put the bird aside to dry while you work on the box.

Step 3: Making the bird box

Cut a rectangle out of the grocery bag and use a black marker to draw a hole for the bluebird to get in and out of.

Step 4: Draw your background

Using pastels, crayons, or colored pencils, draw the sky and meadow onto your large piece of paper. Make sure to leave a blank spot to glue your bird box onto, since glue won’t stick well to crayon or pastel. I used pastels because I love being able to smudge and blend them to make a cool texture for the sky. 

Step 5: Assemble!

Now’s the time to glue it all together! To make a perch for the bluebird, I just cut a piece of the handle from the grocery bag and glued it right on. I did the same to make the post for the box. Now that your watercolors have dried, it’s also a good time to draw an eye on the bluebird. I used a black marker.

And voila! You’ve made an eastern bluebird in its spring habitat! The bird box provides important shelter for the bluebird and the chicks that will come soon. Can you think of anything else that bluebirds might need to live? Draw them in to your own art project!

Whooos woods are these…Nature, Awe, and Wonder in a Minute

Rarely does the moment arrive when everything seems to fit together perfectly and converges at just the right moment, but that’s probably why transcendent moments are so rare and special and our vacation campers had this type of moment this morning.

Over the past few weeks, we have been keeping tabs on a pair of Great Horned Owls and a single Barred Owl that have been very active in our wildlife sanctuary. For one week, a Barred Owl has been roosting during the day in the same tree in our pine grove, but was not there today. Alas, I thought our vacation campers wouldn’t get to see this amazing owl.

Barred Owl from February 7, 2019

BUT the reason it wasn’t in it’s daytime roost was because it had taken up residence in a nest that was in perfect view of the trail in our pine grove. This is the first Barred Owl nest we have ever found on the sanctuary.

So with the snow sparkling in the mid morning sun, an owl resplendent in it’s nest, the first people to see it were our vacation program campers and the look on their faces just tells it all, so much more than words could.

“ Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.”


― Mary Oliver

Art, Nature, and Photography

Sticks cracked, boots splashed in the stream, and the sanctuary burst with life as students from Canton High got into position to take the perfect photograph of our natural world. On December 11, Patricia Palmer’s photography class from Canton High School visited the wildlife sanctuary to take nature photographs. We spent time exploring near our vernal pool, pine, maple, and oak forest, and Pequit Brook.

Along the photography hike, we encountered lots of birds, including red-breasted nuthatches, a fisher (Martes pennanti), an extremely rare sighting, and a raccoon all curled up in a tree hole along the vernal pool trail. Special thanks to the Marilyn Rodman Council for the Arts for supporting these wonderful programs. 

A fisher ambled up a large white pine while we hiked to the brook. It spent most of the afternoon in the late fall sun high up in the tree.

The light and reflections of the ice were wonderful. Enjoy these photos of the trip.

Student photographing reflections on the ice
A raccoon all curled up in a tree by the vernal pool. It spent over 7 hours curled up in this spot right along the trail
Students photographing ice, water, and nature at the Pequit Brook

Inspiring wonder, creativity, and curiosity at the Nature Lab: An inside peek at the Wild at Art Travel Camp

Our inaugural travel week at the Wild at Art Summer Camp has just wrapped up. From July 9 to July 13, our travel program included a visit to the amazing and inspiring Nature Lab at the Rhode Island Institute of Design.

Campers had a close up look at many amazing natural history artifacts and were able to use state of the art microscopes to be amazing by a tiny world that is almost always hidden.  Enjoy this short video of the day.

Inspiring curiosity, creativity and more with Barry Van Dusen: A Day with the Wild at Art Travel Camp

Our inaugural travel week at the Wild at Art Summer Camp has just wrapped up. From July 9 to July 13, our travel program included visits to Barry Van Dusen’s art studio for an inside look at his craft and a short trip to Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary to paint and sketch with Barry in the field. It was wonderful to see all the campers inspired by a true master artist and wonderful person. Enjoy this short video of the day.

We also visited World’s End in Hingham, travel by ferry to Peddock’s Island in Boston Harbor, visited the Roger Williams Zoo, had ice cream at Crescent Ridge, and visted the amazing Nature Lab at Rhode Island Institute of Design

Nature in a Minute: The Caterpillars Count!

The Museum of American Bird Art and Mass Audubon has partnered with UNC Chapel Hill to participate in a Citizen Science Project called the Caterpillars Count. Caterpillars Count! is a citizen science project the measures seasonal variation (phenology) and abundance of important food sources for birds, primarily arthropods like caterpillars, beetles, and spiders found on the foliage of trees and shrubs.

We have a wonderful team of two volunteers and Sean Kent, the education and camp director, taking data on a weekly basis. So far we have monitored over 1,500 leaves for arthropods. Stay tuned!

 

Spotlight on our Spring Homeschool Classes

To learn or sign up for our spring homeschool classes, click here.

In an environment infused with science, nature, and art, our homeschool classes are exciting and filled with laughter and fun. Each class is thoughtfully designed to foster confidence, awareness, and curiosity for the natural world, science, and art. Homeschool classes are designed by Sean Kent, a dedicated field biologist, curious naturalist, accomplished photographer, and passionate science educator with has been teaching science for 15 years. Furthermore, he has conducted ecological research in Massachusetts, Arizona, and Belize on native bees, the monarch butterfly, interactions between plants and animals and much more. This spring we are offering classes in field biology, nature journaling, and photography, including a build your own camera digital photography course.

This spring we will be offering

  • Pottery, ceramics, and sculpture
  • Drawing Owls from life
  • Spring Ecology and Art
  • Nature Journaling
  • Build a digital camera and learn the art of photography

To learn or sign up for our spring homeschool classes, click here.

This spring picture your homeschool student:

  • Conducting experiments in our native plant meadow, near our vernal pool, and throughout our wildlife sanctuary. Check out this wood frog that was heading to our vernal pool on March 28, 2018.

  • Looking closely at wood ducks, wood frogs, and fairy shrimp in our vernal pool and learning more about their ecology and biology

  • Recording and analyzing scientific data that they collected
  • Creating art inspired by science and nature

Check out these pictures of homeschool students actively involved with conducting research and setting up our experimental native plant meadow.

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  • Conducting surveys of amphibian populations that thrive in our wildlife sanctuary
  • Getting up close with wildlife and possibly holding yellow-spotted salamanders, turtles, or wood frogs that live in our wildlife sanctuary

Check out a few photos of homeschool students closely observing wildlife

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  • Increasing their confidence by creating art infused with science and nature
  • Focusing and closely observing nature

Check out a few pictures of homeschool students sketching and observing nature closely in the field

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  • Making friends in a warm and caring environment
  • Exploring different art mediums

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  • Observing and learning about all the amazing wildlife we have living in our 121 acre wildlife sanctuary

Check out a few of the animals and plants that have been observed over the past year in our wildlife sanctuary

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To learn or sign up for our spring homeschool classes, click here.