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Archive for April, 2011

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Songbird populations have dropped drastically over the last few decades.  I can only imagine the number and variety of birds that would have been seen in may parents’ neighborhoods when they were children.

These declines are attributed to many factors: city lights, reflective windows, pesticide use in summer and winter ranges, changing farming practices and even wind turbines.

It seems that you may (or I) may be in control of a significant factor in songbird declines.

From the June 2011 BirdWatching Magazine:

Catbirds losing battle to cats: Study finds cats taking big toll on fledglings

Research conducted in the summer of 2004 in three suburban neighborhoods in the Washington, D.C., metro area and published in January 2011 confirms what many bird conservationists and birdwatchers have been saying for years: Free-roaming cats are major predators of songbirds.

Read the rest of the article here.  It’s near the bottom of the page.

I’ve been reading about this problem for some time.  I became acutely aware of this problem with my own cat, Robert.  I once stood at a window observing a large hawk that was observing our cooped flock of chickens.  Out of nowhere Robert pounced on the hawk.  They rolled once or twice and the hawk took off like a shot.  Another time I was building a small fire in a firepit.  A sparrow flew over the fire about a foot from my face.  Robert lept and nailed that bird right at my nose.  We ran him down and released the bird.  I can only imagine what hunting successes he had when we weren’t watching.

Robert passed away last year and is missed.  A new cat, Kevin (or Franklin) has come to visit.  He is a confirmed indoor cat, a designation that he rebels against.  The designation was a condition for living with us.  He seems satisfied watching the garden birds from the windows.

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I just finished a small commission of 6 cardinals-on-a-stick for the Indiana Governor’s Office to have on hand for official gifts.  It would be great to learn where they end up!

Birds-on-a-stick are flat cut birds that are slightly larger than my carving patterns.  They are finished and painted and distressed, on one side, in the same style as my carved birds.

They cost considerably less than birds carved in the round and are considered, by addicted collectors, to be a gateway bird.

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There it is!  Birdwatching Magazine, June 2011, Pg. 51!

In March the well established magazine formerly known as Birder’s World re-invented itself into Birdwatching Magazine.   The change brought a new format to the magazine.  Without watering  down content the publication, once known for being too serious, stuffy and intimidating, emerged as a colorful fun and engaging.

The most dramatic changes were the addition of short image-centric pieces helping to identify birds, purchase field guides and books, learn about unusual sightings and to find bird themed art.

I was excited about these format changes, especially the last.  I wondered how to get my work features.  It turned out to be much simplier than I thought.

I emailed the editor some images and a brief description about what I do and asked.  She wrote back with their photography specifications asking for photos of the “blue one”.

My friend Wilbur Montgomery shot a short series of the piece and I emailed them with specific details.  This all happened within three days.

I received my complimentary copy in yesterday’s mail and could not be more pleased.  Wilbur’s shot looks great, my bird looks great and it’s framed by interesting pieces.  It’s the equivalent of a four color 1/4 page ad.  Here’s the online version of the same page.

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You can read all 20 here but I’m focusing on No. 19.  The indigo bunting mentioned was made right here at 50 Little Birds!  I can’t wait to see this issue on the newstands.

Reason No. 19: The June issue also contains our second installment of “Birds Around Us,” our new one-page showcase of the birds we see when we look at jewelry, clothing, household furnishings — just about anything. In this issue, we show a very birdy clock, a hummingbird pendant, colorful earrings, quail-decorated note cards, and an Indigo Bunting that would look great here in my office. Yours too? Write to us if you know of a cool item we should feature in “Birds Around Us.”

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I Am Not Alone

I’ve been a bit obsessed with croquet balls lately.  I love their look.  I use them as mounts and bases for my birds.  They’ve become the #1 talking point at art shows when folks want to talk about my work.

Tongue in cheek, I’ve been claiming that we may be the largest recycler of croquet balls in central Indiana.  This may be still be true, but I’ve found another artist using croquet balls for the same purpose.  There may even be a bit of an ironic connection between his work and mine.  I need to do a bit of research before a make that claim.

Jim Mullan makes these birds in Florida.  It seems that they’ve been discontinued.  Perhaps his supply of croquet balls has dried up.

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I’ve little time to post a response to the Indiana Artisan Marketplace.  My non-arts-post-show to-do list is demanding my attention.  I expect to discuss elements of the this weekend over the next few days.

My immediate response WOW!  As an advocate for traditional arts and fine craft I was blown away by the quality and variety of the artisans, the quality of the show and the wonderful folks who made the effort to come and visit with us.

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Stephanie Hagerty is the winner of a pair of tickets to the Indiana Artisan Marketplace this weekend.  Congrats Stephanie!  I look forward to meeting you.

Today the Marketplace is open to the trades  — folks looking for items to feature in their shops and galleries.  We began setting up last night and will continue until the doors open at noon.

I saw some amazing things!  The show will live up to the hype.  In fact, with the present mindset about craft and fine craft I think most visitors will be blown away at the quality of this work.  An unexpected highlight is a large booth from Berea College.  Berea College has a tradition of training students in fine craft to preserve Appalachian craft traditions and to offset tuition costs.  It’s been a successful experiment since before the Civil War. (Read previous posts about my visit to Berea College here and here.)

There is something for everyone!  I saw cheeses, wine, beer, sculpture, fine painting, folk painting, guitars, harps, psaltry, pottery…the list continues.  Nothing I’ve seen is short of fantastic!

Phoebe (my youngest), Joe (a buddy and Blue Stone Folk School president), Emily (oldest) and Elliott (grandson) loaded in the booth and were able to get it set up, lit and dusted yesterday afternoon.  Because of their help and the fantastic planning by the Indiana Artisan folks we are a couple of hours ahead of schedule.  This has allowed me time to write this morning and take care of a few details.

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