On 1-11-11, a Clay Homage to Small Brown Birds

Today is January 11,  2011 and I’ve reserved it for a humble subject, though one might wonder why I hadn’t focused on something more splashy. The last time these numbers rolled around, in 1911, it was the year of the Great Blue Norther. But I’m foregoing something more dramatic in lieu of spotlighting something closer to home. I love the fact that our land here, along the 49th parallel, is covered with understory and has a forest standing right behind: it affords us a variety of birds, summer and winter. Among the winter birds are small, brown birds that live in the brush and occupy the ground. They don’t use the elevated feeders and rely on pecking the ground to find food. They have become very dear to me. Chickadees might dramatically flit and fly around the tube feeder, but these humble little brown birds hop over the frozen ground and cock an eye, asking me to not forget them. While they have muted tones, nondescript markings or shape, they can be very sweet and personable. One, in particular, has shown itself to be no wallflower. If I haven’t put seed on the ground for it, it’ll stand  on the joists of the new porch and peer at me through the window. It’s so fluffed out, it’s almost round and is what my Mom calls an LBJ, little brown job…a generic little brown bird. I’ve tried keying out these tiny birds, with little success. I can’t see markings clear enough from the window and they dash off when I walk out with an eye toward watching them. Maybe their very homeliness is the reason I’ve noticed their personalities…I see the flashy chickadees all the time and can’t say I’ve been able to tell one from the other this year. Now the LBJs…

London Clay Birds remind me of my little birds and I think these are grand. These sweet renditions are of birds found in the area where the artisan who makes them lives, London, England. “As the clay is unpurified I get a variety of effects when they are fired,” explains DH Painter on her blog site.  She states that the birds are made of local clay, which “is a marine deposit from the Paleogene period – 60/50 million years ago. London was, back then, covered by a warm tropical sea.” Painter’s birds capture the charm of our LBJs.

This stoneware wren is wonderful. There’s an honesty and directness I find appealing and its quiet coloration, design and stylization make it very attractive. Made by Andersen Studio, in Boothbay, Maine, it is the epitome of the little brown bird. This sparrow is quite nice, too….

The Birds are made by California sculptor, Chris Stiles. I like the color and grouping of these pit-fired creations. Fluffed out, they remind me of our LBJs and I can imagine them racing around out front, even though the beak differs from any of those in my yard.

Winter here would be dull without our birds, as it’s generally quite rainy here …a temperate rain forest. I am so happy they grace our presence and always look forward to their return. Our little brown birds like us and I love them.

(Note: If you haven’t taken my Readers Interest Poll, please do…it’s open till Feb. 1st!)


About Jan

I have a background in ceramics, graphic design and journalism.
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