Trogon Triptych – one of the best birthday presents ever

Bird Art is Good Art

I was inspired by a recent amazingly awesome birthday present from my son to do a quick post on the various bird art that has found a home in our house. We haven’t gone full “Put a Bird On It“, but it is a growing collection. There are some pieces that I really enjoy, especially the artwork by my kids. The latest acquisition is the Trogon Triptych at the top of the post. They were drawn by my oldest son in colored pencils (that I got him for Christmas). And they invoke some great birding memories. The whole family got up at dawn to find a Resplendent Quetzal in the Savegre Valley of Costa Rica, and we were treated to an awesome show. On the trails above the Savegre Lodge, it took 3 of us triangulating along the trail 15 minutes before we finally spotted an incessantly calling Collared Trogon. My Dad and I had a point-blank, and long lasting, encounter with an Elegant Trogon in Madera Canyon, Arizona. And while I haven’t ever seen a Black-throated trogon (the yellow-bellied bird on the left), it’s my favorite of all the sketches.


This piece is a much earlier work from my oldest son. It’s a watercolor that has always captivated me. I don’t know if it was meant to depict any particular species, but the piercing stare, the undertail detail, and the moody red background make this a painting that will always be up somewhere in our house.

This sketch is by my youngest son, who spends much less time drawing than his older brother. What species it depicts may never be known. I can see some warbler in the white wing bars, some woodpecker in the red cap, and some Rose-breasted Grosbeak in that red chest. But the bi-colored bill, the white back and belly, and those chicken legs have made a confident identification elusive. But it’s a piece of art that just screams that it was drawn by my youngest son. And it’s the love that motivated the drawing that makes it so dear to my heart.

In addition to drawing, my oldest son is a master of pipe-cleaner art. He’s made everything from Santa Claus ornaments to narwhals. And, of course, he’s made some awesome birds. What’s amazing is that he just sits down at the table, and 15 or 20 minutes later, he’s made a stunning figure that doesn’t betray any of the frustration I feel when trying to get pipe-cleaners to connect and make the shape I want them to make. This one here is in my office at work, and is inspired by the Scarlet Macaws we saw in Costa Rica.

Lego butterfly

No art collection is complete without some legos. And we’ve got bins and bins of legos. We prefer to free build in our house, and often work in small scale. This Mexican Violetear was part of an official set (you can find the set here). In addition to the hummingbird, it also has a Blue Jay and European Robin. A different set, with smaller models (but again a European Robin) was given out to Lego employees a few years ago. If you want it, will cost you a pretty penny. With some free time this summer, I’d like to create a series of super small, but identifiable, lego birds. If I’m successful, I’ll post them here.

This large poster looks great on a dark blue wall. It purports to be the complete collection of the Birds of North America. But it’s not true. For starters, it depicts only about 750 bird species, and big year birders have recorded over 800 since Hawai’i was added to the ABA area (and the poster includes a bunch of Hawai’ian birds). While it includes long-gone species like Passenger Pigeon, Eskimo Curlew, Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Oaho Oo, and Great Auk, it’s missing a few regulars in the United States (much less the birds of Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies, which are part of North America). Just from a quick look, I don’t see Red-throated Pipit, or Eared Quetzal,  or Pacific Wren, or Blue-footed Booby, for starters. And there’s nearly a dozen parrots and parakeets you can see in Los Angeles that aren’t depicted. But quibbling over counting aside, it’s a beautiful poster.

We’ve got some other cool bird-art around the house, too. One of my favorites is a big chunk of tree bark full of sapsucker holes that I found in a park one day. We’ve also got a delicate bird nest sitting atop a shelf (I found it askew on the ground, empty of eggs and presumably abandoned). And I’ve printed out a few of my favorite bird photographs, though I haven’t put any of them in frames or up on the wall yet.