Sierra has submitted artwork to Stone Soup a grand total of 11 times, and nearly all the paintings, drawings, and photographs she has sent in share a single subject: birds. Birds flying, birds swimming, birds eating fish, birds protecting their chicks, even birds attacking other birds.
I have to admit that, before seeing Sierra’s artwork, I had not given birds much thought. Sure, I admired hummingbirds enough to set a feeder outside my desk window, and, if I saw a hawk, I would follow it with my eyes until it drifted out of sight. But I was also somewhat afraid of birds—even of the hummingbirds, who dart out, as if it to attack me, whenever I take the feeder down for a refill. And I certainly didn’t think of birds as having distinct personalities. To me, they seemed expressionless and inscrutable.
But seeing Sierra’s photographs made me realize that I was wrong, that birds didn’t lack personality—I simply hadn’t looked at them long enough to see it. In her photographs, Sierra captures this personality. Her burrowing owl is endearingly goofy; her blue heron, pensive; her Anna’s hummingbird has its tail saucily fanned out; and her silver-beaked tanager seems to stare “petulantly” at the camera, as she observes in her accompanying text.
In her cover letter to this submission, Sierra wrote, “I have loved animals for as long as I can remember. Birds fascinate me. Their evolution and behavior—how they fly and how they sing has captured my imagination. I hope to continue to help educate people about birds and make new discoveries about these awe-in- spiring animals in the future.”
I know she has already educated at least one person about birds (me!), and I hope that you will also learn from this portfolio—in addition to simply enjoying Sierra’s beautiful, perceptive, funny photographs.
This charismatic burrowing owl winks for the camera. I noticed these owls seem to only blink one eye at a time!
Birds are descended from reptiles and, like them, use the sun to raise their body heat. This great blue heron heats up by facing the sun with wings outspread.
Hummingbirds are feisty creatures with racing metabolisms. This female Anna’s hummingbird has just spotted an intruder on her territory. She prepares to take flight.
This crimson-headed silver-beaked tanager stares at me straight on and petulantly as I, the photographer, have disturbed its feeding. This swift moment passes by as the bird flutters up to the safety of the trees.