"Birds Know No Borders"
My vision with this illustration was to incorporate many spectacular migratory birds into one, reasonably accurate looking bird, to represent the reality that birds know no borders.
First I will talk about the birds represented in this illustration.
The head is that of the Canada warbler. This wood warbler is smaller than a sparrow and migrates from Canada’s northern forests to Columbia and northern South America.
The bill is that of the tiny Rufous Hummingbird that can be found breeding as far north as Alaska and migrate to winter in Mexico. Compared to the distance undertaken by other birds on this list, this migration is relatively “short”, but it is important to remember that this bird has a wingspan of 4.5 inches, is 3.7
inches long, and weighs .12 ounces!
The breast is that of a Northern Wheatear. These birds breed in both the Siberian and Canadian tundra. Both populations migrate to sub-Saharan Africa for the winter. The Canadian population migrates across the northern Atlantic ocean to Africa, waiting for exact right weather before making a very dangerous flight over the North Atlantic.
The belly, slightly darker brown than the Wheatear, and feet are those of the Barn Swallow. There are three 3 subspecies of this bird. This is the representation of the North American population that breed in North America, migrating to South America for the winter. The birds in the European population breed in Europe and migrate to sub-Saharan Africa. The birds in the Asian population breed across the continent north of India, migrating to India, Indonesia, and the other islands in Oceania. I say the Asian, European, and North American populations, simply because that is where they breed. In fact, these birds spend more time in their wintering grounds than in their breeding grounds, so they could also be called the African population, but that’s a discussion for another day.
The wings are that of the Red Knot. These small shorebirds, the size of a robin, migrate from the Arctic tundra to the southern tip of Argentina and back every year. An individual that has been banded, B95, with its age taken into account, is thought to have flown the equivalent of a trip to the moon and halfway back in its lifetime, earning its name “Moonbird”. There is an excellent book about this bird that I strongly recommend called “Moonbird; A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95”.
And finally, the tail is that of the Arctic Tern, that like the Red Knot, breeds on the arctic tundra. However, the Arctic Tern doesn’t stay put in one area for the winter, instead it will travel great distances to feed over the southern ocean. The sheer distance of the migration and the dispersal within its wintering grounds put it near the top of the list for the largest animal migrations.
Each of these birds have amazing stories and undertake amazing migrations annually. Unlike humans, birds know no borders. A bird that may be protected in Canada where it breeds may be at threat of habitat loss in its wintering grounds. It is not the fault of the coffee farmers in Columbia, who are payed low wages and lack proper working conditions, that patches of forest that provide food and shelter for wintering songbirds are cleared. This represents a bigger problem, a global problem we must address. We must all be part of the solution. We have to ensure that every single human being across the planet is able to live peacefully, have a safe workspace and sustainable income, and have the fundamental human rights we all have and often take for granted. If we, as consumers, at home make responsible choices we can promote the well-being of those producing goods, that are too often treated poorly. If we all work together to fight inequality, we can in turn help protect the birds we love. We are all connected.
I'm using my power as a photographer to highlight nature's beauty and the reasons worth protecting our incredible planet