Saturday, March 22, 2014 turned into a perfect evening for Audubon fans and newcomers visiting the center in Greenwich. Not only did famed bird guide creator, David Allen Sibley visit, so too did a handful of American Woodcock who agreed to perform their fantastic annual courtship displays above Audubon’s meadows, just to the north of the main building.

American Woodcock Photo 

Their aerial displays, accompanied by the sound created when wind rushes past its wings, continued for nearly half an hour when it was declared complete by one courting male woodcock that whisked over the heads more than one hundred people. This unique performance is one of the earliest signs of spring for our region and will continue into April at Audubon and in meadows and wetland areas near you. 

After the avian excitement ended, David Sibley, surrounded by the Oppenheimer prints of J.J. Audubon’s raptors in watercolor, began his presentation in Kiernan Hall.

Guests were delighted by Sibley’s quiet and insightful stories about his approach to drawing and how he creates the final illustrations that many millions of birders have come to depend on. Through extensive bird study and an endless series practice sketches to train his hand and mind, he prepares for when he begins the delicate process of outlining each bird and then layering opaque watercolors on to paper.  

After his short but stunning presentation, Sibley engaged many questions from the audience and expanded on what he has learned about passerine plumage patterns and how his view of Audubon drawings has evolved throughout the years and his career. For more about the event and Sibley the artist, visit the event page: http://greenwich.audubon.org/events/david-sibley-event-woodcock-walk

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To learn all the distinct field marks and how it differs from its sandpiper relatives, pick-up the new SIBLEY GUIDE TO BIRDS: Second Edition at the Audubon Greenwich Nature Store. Contact Gigi at 203-869-5272 x221 or stop in the anytime from 10am-5pm on Tuesday through Sunday. Remember, current Audubon members get 10% off in the store. 

 

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