Diary: Why Do I Love Birds So Much

african grey parrot
So I’m doing this fundraiser for parrots. Over the past few months I’ve been thinking a lot about why I want my art to exist. What purpose I want it to serve.

Turns out I’ve always really loved birds. My first pet was a blue parakeet named Blueberry. When I was 7 I used to pour over a book about the animals of Australia and just stare at the birds in it every day. So exotic, so majestic.

Parrots especially need help because they are the most threatened of all the birds – habitat loss, being persecuted as pests, and they are very sought after for pet trade because of their beauty.

Lately I’ve been wondering why I like birds so much. Like – is there some genetic or some other reason? Why whenever I see a bird, even a tiny common sparrow, my eyes immediately go to them.

I even went so far to Google “why do i love birds so much” and yes it seems other people have put in the same terms so I know I’m not a nerd alone.

My goofy search did not come up with a scientific reason to explain my natural fascination (OK, I didn’t research that hard. One theory though – maybe deep in my genetic code my ancestors relied heavily on birds to survive. For hunting, for eating, for the warmth of their feathers.)

So I started coming up with a brief list of things I dig about birds. Here’s the top 7 things I like… out of many more.

1. Their colors and striking variety
I go crazy just thinking about all the birds I’ve encountered. Swallows, great blue heron, parakeets, blue jays, penguins, ostrich. Dang – they are all so different and AMAZING! And they all have their own “superpowers”. Some are really excellent fishers, some are fantastic swimmers, and others can zip around so fast in the sky in order to catch insects. So many colors – and indeed I love color.

2. The way they bring you into nature
Birds are an easy entry point into nature. They help you appreciate it every day in a very specific way. Could you imagine a world without them? No birds tweeting, no things zipping in the sky (besides insects), no feathers…

Earth is a really big place and we need to appreciate the things on it otherwise we lose them. I believe birds are one of those things that bridges the gap between us humans in our own little complicated worlds with the bigger picture of life on Earth.

3. They descended from dinosaurs
Yeah, that’s pretty cool. Being up close to any bird you can see it’s scaley feet and, in the case of a parrot, imposing beak. Their eyes look like lizard eyes. There is something ancient and mystical about them.

4. They can be wicked smart
Parrots especially are revered for their intelligence. They can talk and mimic.

5. A cohesive package of hard and soft
Most birds seem to be made to conquer a variety of circumstances – a juxtaposition of soft feathers, hard beak, scaley spongey feet, sharp talons, hollow bones. I imagine because many of them travel long distances, so they need to be ready to tackle anything.

6. They dance and sing
I can relate to just about anything or anyone that likes to entertain. Even if (and maybe especially if) it is for sex… hahaha.

7. They are great travelers
I admire anything that can travel great distances on it’s own. It’s the adventurous traveler in me. And I’m not even talking about flying. Even the flightless ones are amazing travelers – whether they can run like an ostrich or swim like a penguin.

I have yet to buy a pair of binoculars for birding (I am resisting it in part because I feel like it’s a touch too nerdy) but I know one day I will just give in. I think Mike is planning on buying me some whether I like it or not.

The “Painted Parrot” series will be available in my shop this Thursday, Feb 5 at 9am PST. They will be a collection of watercolors on paper and a portion of your purchase will be going to charity.

mitchell the cockatoo