Taking Flight is an International Juried Youth Bird Art Exhibition at the Museum of American Bird Art. The goal of this exhibition is to create a greater awareness and appreciation for birds while fostering the development of young artists and sharing their work with the public. The Taking Flight contest is open to young artists age 4 to 18 of all skill levels. This year’s exhibition will be on display at the museum from September 2019 to May 2020. Please encourage young artists to participate and you can learn more or submit your art by clicking here.
Although it remains mysterious to science how nature calms and restores our brain, it never ceases to amaze me how a brief respite walking through a garden to watch seedlings emerge after a long winter or sauntering through a woodland and hearing the songbirds sing for the first time in many months revitalizes the spirit.
Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit
on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds,
until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost
unhearable sound of the roses singing.
― Mary Oliver, How I go to the Woods
The woods and meadows at the Museum of American Bird Art are alive with sounds, sights, and spirit of spring – renewal and rebirth.
The wood frogs and spotted salamanders have come and gone from the vernal pools, leaving tens of thousands of eggs that will soon hatch. The young tadpoles and salamander larvae that emerge are tenacious. In their struggle to survival and transform, their tiny bodies expend so much energy that the pond is constantly full of tiny ripples that are visible only when you slow down, look closely, and remain still. Oh, what joy these splendid little puddles in the woods bring after a long winter.
While the vernal pool awakes, it’s bounty will nurture the nearby woods and the Barred Owl eagerly watches and waits…
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.
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.
Tell about it.”
― Mary Oliver
On January 1, 2019, Robert Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening entered into the public domain and I have been pondering the lines from that poem, especially
as I take people on programs through the wildlife sanctuary – like high school photography students, develop STEAM curriculum inspired by our natural world, and continue to learn about our amazing natural world right here in Canton. Whose woods are these…
As I quietly walked through our wildlife sanctuary, through a grove of tall, spindly white pines and oaks looking for the aforementioned great-horned owl, a white-tail flashed and a “herd” of deer bounded away my foot steps. My attention was draw to a quieter, subtle sound of faintly rustling leaves and breaking twigs gave away the location of a no longer resting coyote.
Here is a video from our trail camera of four white-tailed deer bounding across the pine grove late one afternoon this new year.
Here is a trail camera video from the past week of a single coyote a little past dawn moving through the pine grove.
Since the New Year, our wildlife sanctuary has been bursting with activity fueled by an eruption of pine cones. Each day there is a cacophony of squirrels, both red and grey, and seed eating birds, like red-breasted and white-breasted nuthatches, brown creepers, tufted titmouse, black-capped chickadees, and more. The ground is covered with pine cones, including this pile near a vernal pool on the property.
A red squirrel moved frenetically – both eating pine seeds and remaining vigilant for predators – like the coyote and great horned owl that have both taken up residence in the pine grove.
As a raptor hunted near by and blue jay’s mobbed the bird, a grey squirrel hung tightly to the trunk of a tree and tried to blend in until the danger passed. Whose woods are these…
Robert Frost reading Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
We are extremely excited to display a selection of art from our third annual juried youth bird art exhibition. All artwork will appear in this series of posts. This annual exhibition is open to any children and young adults age 4 to 18 years old. All selected entries will be on display at the Museum of American Bird Art from November 10, 2018 to March 30, 2019. Entries for our fourth annual exhibition will open in January 2019 and close in June 2019.
Come see the works on display at the Museum of American Bird Art by appointment or during 3 open houses
January 26, 2019 from 12 to 2 pm
February 23, 2019 from 12 to 2 pm
March 23, 2019 from 12 to 2 pm
Hummingbird, Alyssa Courchesne, Age 11
For art class, we were asked to choose a photograph of a bird and create a John James Audubon inspired oil pastel bird drawing. As my bird I chose the hummingbird. I chose the hummingbird because to me it symbolizes peace, happiness, and grace. The hummingbird represents peace to me because it brings back memories when I sat on my Memere’s lap and looked out as the glistening lake. I can remember looking out at the lake and seeing the birds just barely touching the water with the tips of their wings. The hummingbird represents grace to me because I am a dancer. When I look at these birds gracefully flying through the air I remember dancing on stage to the song “Stand by Me.” The hummingbird represents happiness to me because of all the bright colors. The bright colors shown on these birds remind me of spring. All of the reasons above are why I chose a hummingbird for this project.
Peafowl,Evan Whang, Age 4
Evan has been fascinated with birds from a very young age and loves to draw birds of all types. He loves birds that display bright colors, such as the fan of the male peacock. He hopes to see a peacock up close one day!
Secretary Bird, Noah Chan, Age 8
I drew the Secretary Bird because it is a really big bird with crazy feathers! I like how its beak is red and yellow it looks like a red heart. The bird looks super cool in flight. It has super power like eating a snake in one bite! I made this picture cartoonish to capture the bird crazy features!
Electric Ostrich, Brac Buffa, Age 10
The ostrich is a unique bird. It’s height, size, running speed, and attitude make it a strong competitor in the wild. I love the way an ostrich can look with such curiosity and character.
Yellow Warbler, Kaia Couture, Age 11
The meaning behind my artwork is about my favorite color. My favorite color is yellow and I would always draw yellow birds when I was younger. My bird is called the Yellow Warbler. I got the idea to draw this bird from an old book I found in my basement. My favorite bird is the Flamingo, but a flamingo isn’t yellow like my favorite color. I also looked at more pictures to get an idea of what I wanted to draw, then I drew it! After that I colored it and signed it. That is how and why I chose the bird I did.
Saturday, November 10, 2018
Twenty creative, excited, and amazing young artists gathered at the Museum of American Bird Art to celebrate the opening of our third annual Taking Flight, an international juried youth bird art exhibition.
We had renowned artist, Sherrie York, as our guest artist. She met all the young artists and taught a fantastic printmaking workshop.
Enjoy this short video recap of our opening reception and a look at each artwork from each artist.
Taking Flight Opening Reception
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.
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
On May 11 and 12, the Museum of American Bird Art had 16 members birding and raising money for Mass Audubon’s Bird-A-Thon, in which we observed 145 species! The MABA team has raised $2,350!, which is outstanding, but short of our $3,000 goal. All the money raised by MABA’s bird-a-thon team will go to supporting all the wonderful work we do at the museum, including exhibitions, summer camp scholarships, school programming and more. Please consider donating by clicking here.
Enjoy a few of the species we saw over the 24 hour bird-a-thon.
As part of our annual Taking Flight youth bird art exhibition, different acclaimed bird artists will offer advice to budding young artists. 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 accepted March 1–June 15, 2018. Click here for more information.
Our first post is by internationally recognized wildlife artist, Barry Van Dusen, who was recently an artist in residence at the Museum of American Bird Bird and meet with the young bird artists in the 2017 Taking Flight exhibition.
If you’re serious about becoming a good naturalist and a good artist, start keeping a nature journal/ sketchbook to record your observations.
Learn to look carefully and NOTICE what you see.
It’s more important to OBSERVE carefully and RECORD your discoveries than it is to make pretty pictures in your sketchbook. Try to LEARN SOMETHING NEW each time you use your sketchbook
Make WRITTEN NOTES along with your drawings to help you remember what you observe.
When you’re just beginning, practice drawing leaves, twigs, pinecones, seashells, crab shells, dead insects and other natural object you find outdoors. These things do not move, so you can take your time to look at and draw them.
Draw the plants and flowers you find in a garden.
Try to draw the SHAPES you see with simple line drawings. Drawing accurate shapes takes lots of PRACTICE! Artists call these “contour drawings”.
Visit museums to observe and draw the stuffed animals, skeletons, and other specimens.
It may sound gross, but drawing from freshly dead birds (window strikes or birds hit by cars), is also a great way to practice drawing and to learn about animals. (Give the birds a proper burial after you draw them.)
You can practice drawing subjects like birds from photographs, too. Start with sketchy lines to block out the bird.
Notice the proportion of the head to the body, and the different angles made by the bill, tail, wing and legs. The birds in the photographs don’t move, so you can take your time.
There are lots of places where you can get close to live animals and try drawing them:
Parks and Duck Ponds…
Zoos and Nature Centers…
Fish Hatcheries and Aquariums…
and Butterfly Conservatories…
…to name just a few.
Most important is to HAVE FUN and enjoy learning about Nature!
The goal of the Taking Flight exhibition is to create a greater awareness and appreciation for birds while fostering the development of young artists and sharing their work with the public. Submissions accepted March 1–June 15, 2018. Click here for more information.