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Sandhill Cranes (paintings by Kristi Koser, courtesy of NET)
Sandhill Cranes (paintings by Kristi Koser, courtesy of NET)

Birds capture the human imagination. Their beautiful appearances, graceful movements, and sweet melodies can move artists to recreate their images through various art forms, write about them, or even imitate their songs. Even today, birds are part of popular culture, used to attract as well as to inspire.

Birds in Visual Arts
Representations of birds can be found in early cave paintings. Later, birds were used as symbols in religious ceremonies or as representations of royalty.

In ancient India, Persia, Mexico, Babylon, and Egypt, the falcon was a symbol of the power which carried the soul of man from earth to heaven.

In the 19th century, John J. Audubon became one of the most famous bird artists in the world.

Today, bird paintings, sculptures, and artwork are as plentiful and popular as ever. Artists such as Neal Anderson specialize in bird images.

Birds in Writing
Countless poets and writers have included birds in their writing, sometimes as symbols and sometimes as characters (like the owl Hedwig in the Harry Potter books). Here are a few quotes from famous authors inspired by birds:

When thou seest an eagle, thou seest a portion of genius; lift up
thy head!

                                                                            -- William Blake

One swallow does not make a summer.
                                                                            -- Aristotle

If I had to choose, I would rather have birds than airplanes.
                                                                            -- Charles Lindbergh

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
                                                                            – Anonymous

I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment, while
I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more
distinguished by that circumstance that I should have been by any
epaulet I could have worn.

                                                                            -- Henry David Thoreau

Birds in the Modern World
In the 20th and 21st century, birds were popularized on television, in the movies, and as mascots of sporting teams.

Maybe you've seen these bird images used to market sports teams. There are countless other examples of bird images used to convey power and attract the eye.

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