A Bit of Bird Artist Heaven

When bird artists get together, they mix business with pleasure. In fact, there isn’t much of a dividing line to begin with. Last weekend I had the pleasure of joining the annual Artist’s Gathering at Indigo Hill, home of the lovely and talented Julie Zickefoose, artist, author, and birder, and her genial and entertaining husband, Bill Thompson, Editor of Bird Watcher’s Digest, host, chef, music director, birding guide and all-around swell guy. It was a ravishingly beautiful fall weekend in Ohio and according a radio report, “peak weekend for leaf peeping”; a term not heard in Oklahoma, unfortunately.

Julie’s pourable art: Zickefoose Winery’s handsome new label.

Participants were Larry Barth, Barry Van Dusen, Cindy House, Jim Coe, Brenda Carter, Mike DiGiorgio, Julie and me. Besides eating and drinking very well and often (thanks, Bill!!)the Artist’s Gathering talked and laughed non-stop, shared work and techniques with awesome generosity, discussed the Big Ideas, birded, sketched, and walked in the technicolor forest under the bluest sky in the world setting off the reddest and yellowest leaves, small retinal explosions and lots of oohs and ahhs.

Not only did I have the time of my life and got to come home with a bagful of ideas and inspiration, but I got my lifer woodcock- being a Westerner keeps certain birds off your lifelist. I knew there were woodcocks at Indigo Hill and when I arrived I waved around a dollar bill, offering it to anyone who could find one for me. It turned out that the winner of the reward was Chet Baker, the charming Boston Terrier and court jester of Indigo Hill.

On our walk in the woods he flushed one out of the long grass just ahead of me. The whir of wings as it passed over my head, showing me the chunky body and long bill, was a good first look for an Okie birder, and I owe Chet a buck. I hope he will take it out in dog biscuits.

Ivorybill discussions: Mike DiGiorgio with his Ivorybilled Woodpecker print alongside Julie’s Ivorybill plate. Barry Van Dusen(center) keeps things civilized.

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