Number of birds met: 826
Newest bird: Prairie Falcon
January 3, 2018; Interstate 40, New Mexico
Number of birds drawn: 240
Christina Baal is an artist, birder, and naturalist who earned a BA in Studio Art from Bard College in 2014. After graduation, she set off to fulfill her dream of seeing and drawing each of the 10,000 species of birds in the world. Her adventures have taken her across the country, from the rocky crags of Maine to the steamy swamps of Florida; to the deserts of New Mexico and the Pacific Ocean along Pacific Highway 1. Along the way, she has met hundreds of birds and countless people who share a fascination with the winged creatures that can defy geographic as well as cultural boundaries.
Christina decided to pursue a career in environmental education to explore the relationship between art, science, people, and birds. She founded an online community gallery, "Drawing 10,000 Birds," as a common space for people to share their emotional experiences with birds. She was an artist-in-residence at Ucross, Wyoming, in 2015, and returned in 2016 to develop work for an exhibition, "The Universal Language of Birds," that opened in June of 2017.
She hopes that one day, people all over the world will share their relationships with birds through art in an effort to protect these winged creatures and the entire natural world. Her home base is currently Mamaroneck, New York.
10,000 Birds: My Mission
I have loved drawing animals ever since I could hold a pencil. When I was younger, I would copy pictures from animal books, living vicariously through the experiences of others. But now, by looking for birds, I am the person having adventures and getting to see the most incredible wildlife and landscapes. More than that, though, by being able to see these things and meet each bird firsthand, I have discovered that each kind of bird has its own quirky personality and lifestyle. It is in these moments when the threads of our lives intertwine- those wondrous moments when my heart quickens as we coexist in this world together- I learn to see each bird for more than just my own prejudices would have me see. And it is in these moments that I also learn something about myself.
My ultimate goal is to see and draw all 10,000 species of birds in the world. Such a quest will bring me to places I could never even imagine and let me see things that will take my breath away. By the time I have seen them all, I will have visited every continent, traveled thousands of miles, encountered all sorts of wildlife, seen unspeakable beauty and met all sorts of people from all different walks of life.
One of the most remarkable things that I have discovered through birding is that birds are a universal language. No matter where I go, when people see me with my binoculars they want to talk to me about the birds they have seen or hear about my adventures. I have met so many people through birding. Countless people come up to me to ask if we can take a walk together to look for birds. These winged creatures allow me to have conversations with people I have never met before because they are something the whole world can share. Therefore, I truly hope that my journey to find all of the birds of the world and the art that comes out of it will be the way in which I can connect with people to show them the awesomeness of the natural world, that we are irrevocably a part of it, and, ultimately, that we must work together with each other and the living creatures we live alongside to protect it.