Birds of Palomarin
Dimensions: 27.5 x 39.5"
Materials: Soft Pastel on Pastelmat Board
Custom framed by Dan's Camera City
Prints available here
Original available here
"Palomarin is a transformative experience," I was told when I first started my bird banding apprenticeship with Point Blue Conservation Science. They were jokingly referring to poison oak exposure - there is so much of it growing around the field station that most people end up being allergic to it by the end of the season. However, for me the apprenticeship was "transformative" in many other ways.
I came to the Palomarin Field Station in the spring of 2022, expecting to learn how to run a field station, be a bird bander, and see some cool birds - then move on. I was in a bad place, mentally. I had just spent several months at home in a very stressful environment, and I really just wanted to get away. This would at least be fun, I thought. What I wasn't prepared for in the slightest was the overwhelming kindness and patience of the people at the station. I slowly learned to relax, gained some confidence, and for the first time felt like I had a purpose. I completely fell in love with the place - the station, the birds, the amazing scenery of Point Reyes, and the ocean!
Towards the end of my nearly eight-month-long stay at Palomarin, I started to think about art, and how I could possibly create a piece that might summarize our season. Sure, I had a few species in mind that I wanted to draw. But somehow, each one seemed like a betrayal to all the other birds I worked with. The idea of drawing all 78 species seemed ridiculous at first - it would take months! But I was already taking the winter off to do some thinking, and I always found that the best way to do that was by drawing at the same time.
The drawing you see here took a total of about 200-250 hours to complete, stretched out over about five months. I truly enjoyed every moment I spent working on it, as each bird brought back so, so many memories - the fidgety Song Sparrows that I struggled to hold onto, the sweet Wilson's Warblers that were always so cooperative, the flock of Oregon Juncos (or "junkies" as we so lovingly referred to them) that lived around the station, and of course my capstone project that involved illustrating woodpecker molt limits (yes, that flying Downy Woodpecker can be micro-aged as a SY/TY bird!). Included are all 78 bird species that we caught, banded, and released from February 14 until October 5, 2022. I also added our phenology plants - plants that we monitored over the course of the season to record changes such as timing of breaking leaf buds, flowers, and fruits.
Species included in this drawing:
Black-throated Gray Warbler
Pacific Poison Oak