The Art of Birds

image of songbird artArtists have been moved, from at least the time of the Egyptians, to capture the likeness and the magic of birds. Their colors, movements, songs, their mysterious comings and goings with the seasons, have seemed almost supernatural, sacred. The earliest ornithologists in the United States discovered the seemingly endless species of the New World and captured their beauty, traits, and surroundings through paintings, journals, and published volumes. Mark Catesby, Alexander Wilson, and John James Audubon combined their scientific observations with the wonder of bird life through artistic renderings long before the advent of cameras, binoculars, telescopic lenses, film, video, or downstreaming. Woodrow Wilson’s daughters danced as birds in Percy Mackay’s play Sanctuary: A Bird Masque, to benefit the early conservationist movement; At 90, Marian McPartland, host of NPR’s popular Piano Jazz, composed a jazz symphony honoring Rachel Carson that begins with birdsong. You can hear it here. Even Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart kept a pet starling and incorporated parts of its singing into the finale of his Piano Concerto K. 453.

Today, birds delight people from all walks of life. Whether amateurs or professionals, they seek to capture and share their love of birds through paintings and drawings, carvings and sculpture, photographs and films, music and performance. The art of birds stirs our imagination, awe, and wonder; it touches the spiritual and the sacred within us. It is why we wish to preserve and protect these marvelous beings who miraculously appear to us along a sandy beach, in a scarlet sunset, or at our windowsill.

Ross Feldner birding at Chincoteague, VA

Rachel Carson and friends on a bird walk in Glover Archibald Park, Washington, DC.

The Rachel Carson Council seeks to instill and inspire a love of birds through art. You will find here selected images and works gathered from many sources to stir your soul and move you to action. You will also find here a place to send and share your own work and that of others. Many of the photographs that grace our web site are by RCC’s Ross Feldner, a leading nature photographer and avid birder. He and fellow birder, RCC President & CEO, Bob Musil, haunt many of the places where Rachel Carson spotted and wrote about birds from the Patuxent Wildlife Refuge Center in Maryland to Washington DC’s Rock Creek Park, Glover Archibald Park, the C&O Canal, Chincoteague Island, VA and more.

RCC contributors, like birds, are found everywhere so we receive paintings, artwork, and photos from across the nation, like this painting of a cardinal in North Carolina by RCC Fellow Kendall Jefferys. Send us and let us share your perceptions, perspectives, and images of birds, in whatever medium, whether you are a beginner, an amateur, or a polished professional.

We will look out for them at [email protected] and share them as widely as possible. Let art take flight.

The Latest on The Art of Birds

How To Become a Better Bird Photographer: Advice From Audubon Photo Award Winners
Go from beginner to award winner by following these strategies from alumni of our annual bird photography contest. While lucky timing never hurts, it takes practice and patience to create images like those featured in this year’s 2021 Audubon Photography Awards. That’s abundantly clear, at least, when reading the stories behind each shot. How do you get there? A few months ago, we decided to ask former winners and honorable mention awardees of past contests. We sent out a survey to more than 70 photographers, alumni of Audubon photo contests held since 2009. Below you can find a sampling of some of the sage advice that flooded into our inboxes. Read more


7 Baby Waterbirds to Make You Squeal
Photographer William Burt zooms in on chicks, and they stare right back.

William Burt wasn’t a typical teen: He spent a lot of his time tailing after super-secretive marsh birds. He wanted to understand them and photograph them—and the waterbirds were just the start of an obsession with elusive species, such as rails, bitterns, nightjars, and Henslow’s Sparrows. Read more 


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