Art of Seeing Birds
Seeing birds might be defined as looking at them, noticing them, or paying attention to them. But to me, it is more like being drawn to them. With every glimpse, every call, every shadow across the ground as they fly by, and every brushstroke, I am drawn to birds more and more. No matter how many times I see a robin hop in the yard, or a goshawk scatter the chickens, making some dive for cover and others freeze...... if is like I have been invited to the dance and the music is already in full swing.
I have rehabilitated, fed, talked to, pointed at, hunted with my goldens, banded, and slipped up on, birds. I have explored them. From the bad breath of a raptor and the hippoboscid flies that dart through their musty-smelling feather, to calling others within range of the shotgun to be grilled. I get the chance to fine tune my observation skills about the world of a bird every time I try to chase and catch it, call it, net it, lure it, repair a feather, splint it, stitch it, ........ try to heal it.
But part of the curiosity is the ubiquity of birds........ thy are everywhere I look. No matter where I go, there they are. Just a trip to town invites an acrobatic display as they swoop over and around the car, or seeing them as a motionless silhouette, like an ornament on a tree. For most of us, birds are our first experience with the natural world. Their aerial acrobatics are like magic, lifting their bodies into the air under their own power. Some give rhythm to the seasons by their unwillingness to stay local, or even on the same landmass... Birds are endlessly engaging and entertaining and awe-inspiring all at once, a kaleidoscope of sight and sound, an avian rainbow that keeps me constantly curious, constantly on alert to the next thing. They are a reminder to breath deep all that is here right now, like the daily walk with my goldens, Dova and Endi. They are constantly drawing my attention to things I might otherwise have passed by, their ground-level senses so very different that mine. Birds are the same, they draw me in and feed my curiosity about so much around me.
All of this, and more, is why I paint. I surrender to my curiosity. My exposure to birds lights that candle to intensely see. This is an extension of seeing birds.
Once my awareness is activated, the art starts to form that image that must be started. The exploration starts again... how to represent that image, with paint, on a white board. Not just any bird or tree..... that particular bird, in that particular moment. (And this blank canvas is possibly the most accessible, unexplored frontier where no one has gone before).
It is no wonder we have been called to be stewards of the earth. Maybe we can all let our curiosity off the leash and exercise the art of seeing birds.