birds

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Art Illustration

Vintage Illustrations of Flora and Fauna Are Superimposed into Surreal Portraits by MUMI

October 19, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © MUMI, shared with permission

Feathers, flowers, leaves, and the human muscular system are spliced into an eclectic camouflage in MUMI’s surreal portraits. From vintage encyclopedias, magazines, and art historical paintings, the Argentinian artist cuts and layers images into compositions that vacillate between the whimsical and the bizarre. Led by a larger narrative, the collages commingle styles, eras, colors, and textures into disorienting portraits, all spurred by the artist’s desire to experiment. “I truly enjoy the organic process in which I let myself go freely,” MUMI shares. “There are endless possibilities when I cut an image. I take it out of its context, its direct meaning, or its origin, and I give it a new surreal environment.”

Prints are available from Society6, and you can find an archive of her fantastic works on Instagram.

 

 

 

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Design Science

Fly with More Than 450 Bird Species on Their Annual Migrations with Audubon’s New Interactive Maps

October 13, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images courtesy of Bird Migration Explorer

What route does the whooping crane follow as it travels south each year? What about the long-winged turkey vulture? A new interactive guide from Audubon tracks the journeys of more than 450 species as they travel around the hemisphere. Complete with the conservation organization’s signature illustrations, the Bird Migration Explorer features digital maps that offer detailed insight into such grand-scale avian movement and are searchable by different taxonomies. Follow a tundra swan’s annual flight path from the arctic, see where the organization spots tagged merlins, and explore the difficulties a horned lark faces as it encounters human activity and climate crisis-related changes on its treks. (via Alastair Humphreys)

 

 

 



Art Science

Energetic Avians Peer from Vintage Book Pages in Detailed Paintings by Craig Williams

October 4, 2022

Kate Mothes

“Green Rosella” (2022), acrylic on vintage page from ‘Atlas of Tasmania’ (1965). All images © Craig Williams, shared with permission

Peering out from the pages of vintage atlases, textbooks, and field guides, Launceston, Tasmania-based artist Craig Williams assembles a menagerie of vibrant avians inspired by Australia’s vastly diverse wildlife and ecosystems. Spurred by an interest in the natural world, his past work in a wildlife park and as an illustrator with a regional museum specializing in spiders and insects amplified his interest in drawing and painting the natural world. The accuracy of scientific illustrations translated into a flourishing interest in birds, which he began to pair with diagrams, text, and sheet music to draw connections between geography, wildlife, and science.

Williams carefully chooses the pages for their connection to each specimen, such as a map of Tasmania that provides the background for a green rosella, a species endemic to the island. “There will always be a relationship between the bird and the page,” Williams tells Colossal. “[It is] sometimes direct, like the use of the field guides, but even these pay homage to the work of the artists and researchers who create these guides both presently and in the past.” In another piece, a peregrine glides in the foreground of a dictionary’s architectural illustrations, recognizing how the falcon has adapted to urban environments by using tall buildings as nesting places instead of cliffs.

In addition to historical connotations, Williams explores the physics of sound and light. Music pages reference passerines, the order of perching birds to which songbirds belong, emphasizing “the use of song by the birds for breeding, socialisation, territory control, etc., but also bringing our relationship with music and song to these recognisable birds that frequent our gardens,” he says. “Other examples include using old physics textbook pages on light, relating to the color in birds as well as light wavelengths in terms of iridescence, or sound wavelengths in terms of song.”

In collaboration with the podcast “The Science of Birds,” Williams paints a species mentioned in each episode, which are available for sale on the podcast’s shop with half of the proceeds donated to BirdLife International’s conservation efforts. You can find more of the artist’s work on his website and on Instagram.

 

“Superb Fairy-Wren Pair” (2022), acrylic on vintage page from ‘The Popular Encyclopaedia or Conversations Lexicon’ (1851)

“Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo” (2022), acrylic on vintage page from ‘What Bird is That?’ by Neville W. Cayley (1956)

Left: “Superb Fairy-Wren” (2021), acrylic on vintage page from ‘A Handbook of Tasmanian Birds and it’s Dependencies’ (1910). Right: “Orange Chat” (2022), acrylic on vintage page from ‘What Bird is That?’ by Neville W. Cayley (1956)

“Peregrine Falcon” (2022), acrylic on vintage page from ‘Webster’s New International Dictionary of the English Language’ (1933)

“Scarlet Robin” (2022), acrylic on vintage page from ‘Leider Ohne Worte’ by Mendelssohn (1800)

Left: “Fairy Penguin” (2021), acrylic on vintage page from ‘A Handbook of Tasmanian Birds and it’s Dependencies’ (1910). Right: “Splendid Fairy-Wren and Banksia Flower” (2022), acrylic on vintage page from ‘What Bird is That?’ by Neville W. Cayley (1951)

“Kookaburra” (2021), acrylic on vintage page from ‘What Bird is That?’ by Neville W. Cayley (1953)

 

 



Photography Science

Sunlight Illuminates a Full Spectrum of Color As It Filters Through Hummingbird Wings in a New Photo Book

September 30, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Opal Wings.” All images © Christian Spencer, shared with permission

Poetry in the Sky is a fitting title for a book of the elegant images of Australian photographer Christian Spencer. Slated for release next month, the volume gathers approximately two decades’ worth of birds Spencer encountered during visits to the Atlantic Forest in Brazil and also in Australia, including macaws, emus, and the species he’s perhaps most notable for documenting: the hummingbird.

Taken when the creatures are mid-flight and beating their wings at incredible speeds, Spencer’s striking photos capture sunlight as it filters through their feathers, emitting a full spectrum of color. The opalescent phenomenon is caused by diffraction and transforms their limbs into tiny, ephemeral rainbows.

Poetry in the Sky contains several photos of the prismatic birds—many of which we’ve featured previously on Colossal—in addition to dozens of additional images of avian life. Pre-order a copy from Bookshop, pick up a print,  and find more of Spencer’s work on Instagram.

 

“Stardust”

“Sundance”

“Hummingbird Rain”

“Holy Water”

“3 Amigos”

 

 



Photography

An Arctic Ptarmigan Takes Flight in the 2022 Bird Photographer of the Year Competition’s Winning Capture

September 9, 2022

Kate Mothes

“Rock Ptarmigan Flight” by Erlend Haarberg, Norway. Gold Award Winner and Bird Photographer of the Year. All images © Bird Photographer of the Year, shared with permission

During the summer months, ptarmigans sport plumage of gray, brown, and black with white bellies and wings. Breeding in the high mountains where winter brings snow, the birds naturally camouflage by turning completely white. Norwegian photographer Erlend Haarberg’s capture of one of the upland game birds taking flight in the dramatic mountains of Tysfjorden won the grand prize in the 2022 Bird Photographer of the Year competition.

The world’s largest bird photography competition welcomed more than 22,000 submissions this year. Award-winning entries document the incredible diversity, habitats, and rituals of avian life around the world, from an elaborate mating displays to the range of landscapes they inhabit. This year’s contest raised more than £5,000 for Birds on the Brink, a charity that provides grants to smaller organizations working on conservation efforts. The top photos, which are now compiled in a book available in the competition’s shop, highlight a range of behavior and environments, from the first moments of flight to the keen wit and strength of urban dwellers.

The 2023 competition is now open and accepting entries from global bird photographers of all ages, and you can find more information on its website.

 

“The Doting Couple” by Richard Flack, South Africa. Bronze Award Winner, Bird Portrait.

“Strut Performer” by Ly Dang, United States of America. Gold Award Winner, Best Portrait.

“Pied Avocet Chick” by Tamás Koncz-Bisztricz, Hungary. Silver Award Winner, 14-17 years.

“Beads of Diamonds” by Sue Dougherty, United States of America. Bronze Award Winner, Attention to Detail.

“Sunset” by Thamboon Uyyanonvara, Thailand. Bronze Award Winner, 14-17 years.

“Puffin Love” by Brad James, Canada. Silver Award Winner, Best Portrait.

“Over the City” by Ammar Alsayed Ahmed, United Arab Emirates. Gold Award Winner, Urban Birds.

 

 



Art Design Illustration

Flora, Fowl, and Fruit Pop with Color in Diana Beltrán Herrera’s Ornate Paper Sculptures

September 7, 2022

Kate Mothes

All images © Diana Beltrán Herrera, shared with permission

A menagerie of beady-eyed birds and butterflies complement vibrant florals and fruity morsels in Bristol-based artist Diana Beltrán Herrera’s elaborate paper sculptures (previously). By utilizing subtle gradients to shape flower petals and making tiny cuts to detail individual feathers, the artist adds incredible dimension and density using the ubiquitous, 2-dimensional material. Ranging from shop window displays, to individual sculptures, to interior installations, she is often commissioned to make work featuring flowers or creatures specific to a location or region, and in a meticulous process of planning and sorting, she assembles different colors and sizes of paper into spritely flora and fauna.

Herrera has an exhibition planned for spring of next year at Children’s Museum Singapore, and you can find more of her work on Behance and Instagram.