The Wall of Birds Project

It takes a big painting to do justice to the phenomenal history and diversity of birds. The Cornell Lab and Ink Dwell studio have combined efforts on a mural more than 3,000 square feet in size, covering one whole wall of the Lab’s visitor center.

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One Planet, 243 Families, 375 Million Years

The Wall of Birds Project is a one-of-a-kind celebration of the world of birds. Envisioned by Cornell Lab ornithologists to showcase biodiversity and evolutionary change, the project features 270 species from all surviving bird families accompanied by a ghostly parade of extinct ancestors.

Artist Jane Kim and her colleagues from Ink Dwell studio brought the mural to life on the largest wall in the Cornell Lab’s visitor center—painting each life-sized bird in colorful detail. The mural and its online interactive (coming soon) comprehensively represent the spectacular variety in the bird world from past to present.

More Than a Mural

Full of gorgeous birds painted in exacting detail, the mural invites viewers first to marvel at the diversity of birds and then to contemplate the evolutionary forces that brought them into being, spread them across the globe, and led to their dazzling variety of forms and colors.

To carry the mural’s message beyond the people who come to the Cornell Lab visitor center, we are building an online interactive feature as part of Bird Academy. Viewers will be able to explore the mural through high-resolution images, learn the basics about each of the bird families of the world, and explore collections of some of the most impressive and outrageous birds on the planet.

 

There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning, endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”

Charles Darwin, Origin of Species, 1859

 

Painting a Bird a Day

The mural’s title From So Simple a Beginning reflects the evolutionary journey it paints—from dinosaurs to present day birds. Everything is painted life size, from dainty songbirds to all 10 feet of a Wandering Albatross in flight.

Painting began in 2014 and was completed in late 2015. To meet the goal, Jane needed to complete an average of one bird portrait per day. The accompanying online interactive will be ready in early 2016.

 

From Beautiful Sketches to Spectacular Paintings.

Below: Some of the mural’s sketches and finished birds. Follow the project’s National Geographic blog and Instagram feed for more.

bw-African_Jacana

African Jacana
Dromornis

Dromornis
Emperor Penquin

Emperor Penguin
Flame Robin

Flame Robin
Gouldian Finch

Gouldian Finch
Great Cormoran

Great Cormorant
Great Gray Owl

Great Gray Owl
Kakapo

Kakapo
Magpie Goose

Magpie Goose
New Zealand Rock Wren

South Island Wren
Regent Bowerbird

Regent Bowerbird
Secretary bird

Secretary-bird
Southern Cassowary

Southern Cassowary
Splendid Fairywren

Splendid Fairywren
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
Superb Lyrebird

Superb Lyrebird
Vulturine Guineafowl

Vulturine Guineafowl
Wood Warbler

Wood Warbler

About the Artist

Ink Dwell studio dedicated more than two years to the ambitious Wall of Birds mural. No strangers to large-scale projects, Ink Dwell recently completed the first Migrating Mural, a series of murals that highlight endangered animals along key migration corridors they share with humans. Founded by Jane Kim and Thayer Walker, Ink Dwell creates art installations and campaigns that showcase the beauty and complexity of natural world. Jane received her BFA at the Rhode Island School of Design and a master’s certificate in scientific illustration at California State University, Monterey Bay.

Jane Kim and team working on the wall

A Part of the Project

The Wall of Birds Project was made possible in part by the generous contributions of many bird lovers.

  • Joan LeBel – African Jacana
  • Imogene P. Johnson – American Golden-Plover
  • Judith Olson – American Oystercatcher
  • Elizabeth Mitchell – Andean Flamingo
  • Ted Weinreich – Archaeopteryx
  • Kathryn and Herman Kiplinger – Atlantic Puffin
  • Irwin and Melinda Simon – Barn Owl
  • John Alexander and Emily Fisher – Black-and-white Hawk-eagle
  • Philip J. Edmundson – Black-necked Crane
  • Deborah Aguirre – Black-necked Stilt and Long-tailed Jaeger
  • Wendy Paulson – Blue-and-yellow Macaw
  • Adadot Hayes – Blue-throated Barbet
  • Cornelia Daley – Bohemian Waxwing
  • Sandy Laughlin – Brown Creeper
  • Marion and David Davenport – Brown Thrasher and Caspian Tern
  • Louisa Copeland Duemling – Carolina Wren
  • Faith F. Hughes – Common Loon
  • Rusty and Deedie Rose – Common Ostrich
  • Patricia A. Rouzer – Common Potoo
  • Andre Dhondt – Cuban Tody
  • Jennifer P. Speers – Eurasian Hoopoe and Wilson’s Storm-Petrel
  • Caroline R. Arms – European Bee-eater
  • Sue Taggart – Eurasian Golden Oriole
  • Bonnie McGhee – Gouldian Finch
  • Julia M. Schnuck – Great Blue Heron
  • Candis Stern – Great Cormorant
  • J.D. Bergeron – Great Curassow and Harris’s Sparrow
  • Brian and Heidi Miller – Great Gray Owl
  • Diane Skolnique – Great Hornbill
  • Jim and Nancy Carpenter – Great Spotted Kiwi
  • CJ McAuliffe – Hairy-crested Antbird
  • Beth Glasser – Hoatzin
  • Pat M. Burke – Hudsonian Godwit
  • Kenneth Buchi – Iiwi and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  • Debra Thangarajah – Kakapo
  • Martha Bauer – King Vulture
  • Marguerite Hoffman – Lilac-breasted Roller
  • Robert Wessels – Limpkin
  • Andres Choussy – Long-tailed Manakin
  • William Michener and Barbara Kimbell – Magnificent Frigatebird
  • David and Star Wald – Magpie Goose
  • Janice E. Burke – Montezuma Oropendola
  • Larry and Nancy Fuller – Montezuma Quail and Blue-footed Booby
  • Marcia and Thomas Morton – Northern Cardinal
  • Matthew Heintzelman – Olive Warbler
  • John Novarr – Ornimegalonyx
  • Douglas Sheldon – Osprey
  • Stephen Wald – Pale-winged Trumpeter and Elephant Bird
  • Dale R. Paulshock – Paradise Tanager
  • Aja, Andrew, Elle, and Patti – Pelagornis sandersi
  • Robert B. Berry – Peregrine Falcon
  • Robert and Vanne Cowie – Phainopepla
  • Joanna Sturm – Prothonotary Warbler
  • Cheryl Lewis – Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • Catherine and Frederick Falck – Resplendent Quetzal
  • Dick and Nancy Eales – Saddle-billed Stork
  • Linnet Tse – Schlegel’s Asity
  • Katarina Chang – Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and Common Ostrich
  • Charlie and Nancy Trautmann – Secretary-bird
  • Einar Gall – Shoebill
  • John and Molly Fitzpatrick – Snowy Sheathbill, Lady Amherst’s Pheasant, Black Caiman, and Sunbittern
  • Olivia Kates – Southern Cassowary
  • Philip and Susan Bartels – Splendid Fairywren
  • Janet DiNunzio – Spotted Pardalote
  • Deborah M. Moretti – Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
  • Linda and Bill Macaulay – Superb Lyrebird and Emperor Penguin
  • James Cox – Superb Starling
  • Todd Fisher – Toco Toucan
  • Stephanie Woods – Turquoise-browed Motmot
  • Jihn and Yun Kim – Vulturine Guineafowl
  • Sally and Einar Gall – Wandering Albatross and Great Bustard
  • Sarah A. Lister – White-throated Kingfisher
  • Joan Schumaker – Wood Duck
  • Maria Schneider and Mark Righter – Wood Warbler
  • John Foote and Kristen Rupert – Wrenthrush
  • Eleanor Balaban – Yellow-billed Magpie

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