From the common loon to the misunderstood blue jay, it’s no secret that Audubon and its readers welcome the sight of birds (whether they’re in our backyards or on textiles). But we can’t help but notice that our winged friends are popular with the non-birding crowd: Walk into any Urban Outfitters or Anthropologie and you’re sure to find a dozen products adorned with birds. With this trend in mind, Portlandia, a comedy on the Independent Film Channel, gave us “Put A Bird On It”, a hilarious sketch about Bryce Shivers and Lisa Eversman, who put birds on things to “make it pretty.”
In the sketch—which aired a year ago—Bryce and Lisa visit a boutique to put generic bird silhouettes on everything. “Their refrain,” explains Erin Keane on Salon.com, “‘Put a bird on it!’ pointed out just how painfully ubiquitous the bird motif had become.” Keane herself admits to being embarrassed by owning things with birds on them:
“In a post-‘Portlandia’ world, I couldn’t show up to a party of design-savvy women with a gift upon which someone had put a bird. What would that say about my taste?”
Despite Keane’s belief that the sketch irrevocably damaged our buying and selling habits, especially on sites like Esty, most artists and designers we spoke with on the e-commerce site say that their items with birds are their most popular.
“I think pretty much everybody loves birds,” says Brooke Albanese, who adds birds generally help increase her sales. “I thought my little black owl pill box would only sell around Halloween time," Albanese says. "But I had a few inquiries after the holiday so he is selling right through to spring.”
Of all the nature-themed purses she sells on Etsy, Lynda Bayless also says birds are her biggest sellers. As a result of their appeal to potential customers, Bayless uses bird designs the most. “This has encouraged me to produce many more purses with a bird theme than any other nature theme,” she says.
Some sellers on Etsy even attribute their overall sucess to birds.
“The majority of our items have birds on them and I believe that has been a significant factor in the popularity of our shop,” explains Amy Hudspeth of Next Door To Heaven.
Rusty Richards says that his and his wife’s shop on Etsy includes 30 different bird designs. “Birds ALWAYS sell,” he says, adding the bird purse is the shop’s number two seller.
Though Laura Sue explains that her bird art is popular, she explains she doesn’t just use the design to increase sales.
“It’s purposeful,” she says. “I don’t just stick birds on everything just to have birds on things.”