Wednesday, February 18, 2009

For the Birds

Yesterday Miss Elaine took me to meet Mrs. Debby Kaspari, a natural history artist. She lives in the country near Norman. Mrs. Kaspari started drawing when she was very little and now she's really, really good. She says she always liked drawing birds and animals so now, besides doing beautiful paintings that people buy for their homes, she does detailed drawings and paintings of birds, animals and plants for magazines and books. Maybe you have a field guide at home. This is a book people use when they want to identify things in nature -- like for birding.

Mrs. Kaspari was working on a painting that will be on a poster and tee-shirts for a very special event called Lek Treks and More. You can see the painting in the picture. It is of some lesser prairie chickens. There used to be a lot of these birds but now there aren't very many and people who are concerned would like to save them. They are very shy and need lots of room and lots of quiet.
Every spring the male prairie chickens try to attract the females. They have sort of a prairie chicken pow-wow. They gather in an area where all the girl birds can see them and they dance around and puff out their chests and make gobbling noises. The dancing ground is called a "lek."

People who go to this festival (April 17 - 22, in Woodward) will get up before it is light and go near the lek. They will hide in little shelters, called blinds, and sit very quietly for three to four hours to watch the birds. After the birds leave, the visitors will quietly leave -- they will be very careful not to disturb the prairie chickens.

There's lots more to do at this festival -- special expeditions to see lots of different kinds of birds. I would like to go but Miss Elaine says we won't be able to go this year. She is starting work on a guidebook for Tulsa so I guess I'll be seeing a lot of Tulsa in the next couple of months!

Mrs. Kaspari also showed us paintings and drawings that she did in the jungle. She loves the hot, steamy rain forests. She and her husband recently went to the forests in Peru. Her husband is a professor at the University of Oklahoma. He's a myrmecologist! I'd never heard of that. It means he studies ants! Dr. and Mrs. Kaspari often go on excursions together to study nature. I wonder if Mrs. Kaspari's birds ever eat Dr. Kaspari's ants!

Mrs. Kaspari has done a lot of paintings for the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. Have you been there? If you haven't, you really need to go. Mrs. Kaspari will have a big display of her paintings from Peru starting in October. She also made recordings of the birds and other jungle sounds. The exhibition will be called "Drawing the Motmot." A motmot is a kind of bird.

That's also the name of her blog -- I like to look at it. She has neat things on it. One of my favorites is a video of her drawing -- and a bird lands right by her and tries to grab her pencil!
I had a good day. I hope you are all fine and taking good care of my friend Oso.



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