The Magic of Birds, Celia Fisher, University of Chicago Press, 2014, 160 pages, heavily illustrated, index.

 

North America’s history of bird art began in 1585 with drawings by Englishman John White. He accompanied Richard Grenville on an expedition to what is now North Carolina. White painted a Bald Eagle, Sandhill Crane, Common Loon, Blue Jay, and a vivid Northern Cardinal. His work was followed by other Englishmen, and eventually by John James Audubon who set the standard for future bird art.

 

Amerindians used bird images as decoration or in pictograph stories found here and there, far predating European efforts.

 

But our continent has no history of birds as art objects that begins to match that of Europe, the Orient, India, and the near East. 

 

Author Celia Fisher recounts a wide history of birds in art in this beautiful book. She explores bird art as it was used to illustrate creation and diversity, as use of birds in hunting and as caged companions was captured in art, and as bird art more and more decorated even household items. 

 

Several books published in the last couple of years have explored the way bird representations have become part of our official and religious and everyday lives. This one adds more information and more beauty to that effort.

 

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Teddy Roosevelt's White House bird list

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Weasel clinging to flying woodpecker