Quill Festival: A celebration of birds, tattoos, art, science, nature, leadership, and community. Mike Fernandez/Audubon

Sacrificing Some Skin to Save Some Birds

At the Quill Festival hosted by Richardson Bay Audubon Center, people enjoyed a day filled with important conservation discussions and killer ink.

Young families, neighbors, artists, and lifelong birders flocked to Richardson Bay Audubon Center and Sanctuary this past October for Audubon California’s inaugural Quill Festival, a celebration of tattoos, birds, and climate activism. More than 200 people attended the festival, which included music, talks covering climate change and the Arctic, local beer and food trucks, interactions with wildlife, nature walks, and bird tattoos from renowned artists Stephanie Brown, Brücius, and Bryan Proteau.

The effects of climate change were readily apparent during the festival, as it unfortunately coincided with the Kincade Fire, the largest wildfire of the 2019 California fire season, burning across Sonoma County. And while the Quill Festival wasn’t disrupted, Richardson Bay Audubon Center lost power not long after it concluded. For Molly Tsongas, digital campaigns manager and organizer of the event, given the backdrop of the fires, it felt appropriate and timely to talk climate and use the occasion to pledge to help climate-threatened birds.

Video: Mike Fernandez/Audubon

“Tattoos are a symbol of how we express commitment,” Tsongas said. “I hope that the people who got bird tattoos today see it as an invitation to take action for these birds, take a deeper level of engagement, and take a step forward in these times.”

Scroll down to see photos from the Quill Festival!

Participant Amy Wilder looks out over Richardson Bay, showing off a temporary tattoo of a California Quail on her neck. Mike Fernandez/Audubon
Young participant sporting a Red-Tailed Hawk temporary tattoo. Mike Fernandez/Audubon
Enjoying beers from the Tap Truck. Mike Fernandez/Audubon
Meet Sequoia, an Endangered Spotted Owl ambassador from WildCare Mike Fernandez/Audubon
Xerónimo Castañeda, Conservation Project Manager at Audubon California, receiving a Yellow-Billed Magpie tattoo by Brücius Von Xylander of Black Serum Tattoo. Mike Fernandez/Audubon
Event attendees showed off a variety of bird tattoos. Mike Fernandez/Audubon
6-year old Kestrel with a Red-Tailed Hawk temporary tattoo. Mike Fernandez/Audubon
Bryan Proteau from Old Crow Tattoo gives original bird tattoos to event attendees. Mike Fernandez/Audubon
Richardson Bay Audubon Center is a sanctuary for bird lovers and 20,000 waterbirds each year. Mike Fernandez/Audubon
Families enjoy the Quill Festival together. Mike Fernandez/Audubon
The art show featured original art by tattoo artists. This event poster was designed by Stephanie Brown of FeralCatBox. Mike Fernandez/Audubon
Temporary tattoos featuring Red-Tailed Hawks, California Quail, and Anna’s Hummingbirds, were created by Coyote Brush Studios. Mike Fernandez/Audubon
Flash tattoo designs by Bryan Proteau of Old Crow Tattoo. Mike Fernandez/Audubon
For many participants, this event brought together many of their favorite things – birds, tattoos, art, science, beer, and inspirational talks. Mike Fernandez/Audubon
Looking at waterbirds on Richardson Bay, a critical migratory stopover for 20,000 birds each year. Mike Fernandez/Audubon
Bird’s eye view of Richardson Bay Audubon Center and Sanctuary. Mike Fernandez/Audubon
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