Art Bird Watching: Fun For the Whole Flock in Any Weather!
December 23, 2014
Sara Snyder manages the Media & Technology Office at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. She helped organize the #ArtBirds Social Media Scavenger hunt to encourage awareness of how artists use bird imagery as part of our exhibition The Singing and the Silence: Birds in Contemporary Art. She fills us in on the bird watching activities, both outdoors and in, as part of our show. The Singing and the Silence is on view now through February 22, 2015.
Fall is one of the best seasons for bird watching, and this year has been no exception. In fact, it has been an extraordinary bird watching season at the Smithsonian American Art Museum—we have been spotting fine-feathered friends indoors, as well as out!
Back in September, we began encouraging "art bird watchers" from around the world to join us for the #ArtBirds Social Media Scavenger Hunt. For eight weeks, fans of birds and art alike discovered and discussed depictions of birds in works of art according to a weekly theme. They shared their findings on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #ArtBirds. At the end of each week, museum staff posted a roundup of favorite "sightings" on American Art's Tumblr. The game was inspired by the exhibition The Singing and the Silence: Birds in Contemporary Art. Even though the #ArtBirds challenge is finished now, you can still browse a round-up of many of the submissions on Storify.
So now that winter is upon us, does it mean that the bird watching fun has to stop? No! When it comes to outdoor birding, the coldest months are enjoyable in a whole different way than those of autumn, as anyone with a backyard birdfeeder can attest. In fact, one of the most famous citizen science surveys around, the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count, takes advantage of the season's bare trees, which enable volunteers to more easily spot local species.
However, if the thought of shivering in the snow with your binoculars is just too much, we recommend checking out the carefully climate-controlled environment of The Singing and the Silence: Birds in Contemporary Art. If you live near Washington, D.C., you are invited to join a series of free public programs related to the exhibition happening throughout January and February, including a gallery talk with curator Joanna Marsh and Pete Marra, head of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, on January 15. If you cannot visit in person, we hope you'll explore the exhibition artworks online. Exotic bird sightings guaranteed!
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