I think that for me birding is like the way i connect with a lot of things in my life. Being from an outdoors family, being an OCD organizer with lists and stuff, and being an artist, all have connected through birding for me- it's how I connect with the outdoors.
Can you talk a little about your artwork?
I care a lot about my art being accurate and authentic, but sometimes the details can get tedious. I need to be immersed in birds to keep it fresh. Drawing is what inspires me to go outside.
Is there anything unique to your experience as a birder?
I think it's interesting growing up as a birder in a small town in Montana. I never met another person my age who was into birds until I was 17. I think that's something that's kind of cool that's shifting. There's less and less birders that grow up being the "wierdo" because they know other people [who like birds] and that legitimizes what they do. [Birding] is something that people actually do.
What advice would you share with young birders?
Value every bird you see. Aesthetically, birds are amazing. Ecologically, birds are amazing. If you'e not paying attention to the birds and just counting them, you're missing out on a lot that you'll be thankful for later.
Hands-down Andrew is an amazing artist. He expertly blends beautiful colors, portrays his avian subjects in striking biological accuracy (a big one for me) and is talented in gouache, pen and ink, watercolor, and various other mediums. You can check out Andrew's art on Facebook and contact him for prints or commissions.
Andrew and I met 8 years ago when I accompanied Dan Casey, a local Montana Audubon member into Glacier National Park. He was taking Josh and Andrew (and a third kid) around the park to find some "lifers" or new birds they had never seen before. Little did I know that later Andrew and I would become Facebook friends, collaborate on a project, and then clean up some boreal birds together in Glacier National Park, 8 years later to the day! I had a blast with Andrew and Josh these last few days in Glacier. We did some serious birding, adding a handful of birds I'd "saved" for later in the year, and had a great time camping at Bowman Lake. I'll save that for another post.