A Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher in New York

Last night my mind was blown when I got a RARE sighting of a bird normally found no farther than Texas in a cow pasture 30 minutes from my house in New York! And what a bird! The scissor-tailed flycatcher is probably as glorious a bird as there is. I only saw it fly a couple of times, but with that tail it was hard to miss! 

Flycatchers are my new favorite bird (don’t tell woodpeckers) and I had put the scissor-tail on a dream list. I never thought I’d see it so soon! It was surreal and oh so magical. Only the cows were not impressed!

Some Recent Thrilling Sightings

Here’s a sketchbook spread of some recent thrilling bird sightings. Actually, since drawing the list, my birding has gotten even MORE thrilling. It’s my first migration season and it’s absolutely incredible out there. Birds! The best anti-depressant I have found!

Favorite Birds of New York

The bird spreads just keep on coming! Here’s a selection of my favorite birds I’ve seen in New York. This doesn’t include a heap of others I’ve seen and love like the Red Wing Blackbirds, The American Bittern–or was it a Green Heron? (The jury is still out!).

The Great Blue Heron panel is maybe my favorite panel I’ve done in awhile. Secret back story: I suffered a running injury this winter and still have not recovered, so my morning exercise and nature observing habits have been completely sidelined–which has been a challenge to say the least. Last month I started driving out each morning to an estuary near by to do some birding and writing on the memoir I’m working on. It turned out to be the perfect anecdote for both my work and heart. I’ve had some amazing encounters with great blue herons there. One morning I drove in and there were three just standing along the road. As I slowly approached them, they each took off slowly one by one. It took my breath away to watch these loping and enormous creatures–looking part dinosaur, part old monk in sweeping gray robes– fly above the green reeds. In these times when so much is on the screen and self curated, nature feels like something open and refreshingly disarming. I need to get back to working on the memoir, but this playful “hobby” of drawing birding lists has been deeply nourishing!

Vacation Birding Spreads

We traveled to California to see family and I did some birding and drawing while there. The top spread was birds I actually saw, while the bottom spread was inspired by all the Acorn Woodpeckers that were teaming in the backyard of my in-laws’ house. Woodpeckers are among my favorite birds by far and it was astounding to sit on their back deck and see an entire community of these striking woodpeckers nesting, calling and flying from tree to tree. I lost count at 15 one evening!

The trip home was hellish with canceled flights and motel rooms and panic and stress galore. It was nice to half listen to a movie and finish the woodpecker spread on the final flight back to New York when I was too tired to read or do much else.

Lately, my diary comics have been filled with nature and bird sightings, which is making me wonder if a bird themed issue of Paper Pencil Life might be a good idea. As I write this down, I worry about how boring this sounds, but the great thing about having your own comic series is that you can do whatever the heck you want! As it is, this has been such a pleasure to do–a way to be and see as I make my way in this world.