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Newsletter June 2011

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Newsletter June 2011


Greetings from the mountains of western Maine!

Warblers as a family of birds have always baffled me. Most of them are tiny, secretive, and spend their time flitting either in the very tops of the trees or in dense underbrush. The fact that they change their plumage before the fall migration only adds to the confusion. I have two coats to remember for every bird, as well as differences between male and female.

But this summer I am finding that watching for them and learning to identify them is very rewarding. They are among the most beautiful and colorful birds in my yard here, and their songs fill the air every June day. I have been patiently stalking each of these little songsters until I could catch a glimpse of them, and then running for the bird books to identify them. They are my friends, too, because they consume great quantities of the insects that would trouble my garden.

Sadly, I found a dead male parula warbler on my doorstep in early June. I do not know what happened to him; I am guessing that he must have tried to fly through the window beside the door. I took photos of him from all angles before giving him a decent burial, so I have been able to immortalize him in drawings.

The warblers that have been around the house this summer include the redstart, the yellowthroat, the yellow warbler, the parula warbler, and the chestnut-sided warbler. I have also seen a myrtle (yellow-rumped) warbler and a blackburnian warbler, but they were apparently just passing through.

Their larger relative, the ovenbird, is a frequent nester here as well, and his loud “te-CHER te-CHER te-CHER” call is a familiar sound out by our treeline. I have never heard one say “TEA-cher TEA-cher” like the books describe. Ours always says, “te-CHER.” I have always wanted to find an ovenbird’s nest, which is a tiny dome-shaped nest with a roof and door, hidden in the leaf litter on the ground, but I haven’t yet.

One of the most familiar of the warblers is the little masked bandit, the yellowthroat. His “witchety witchety witchety” song is the easiest to recognize. We had a yellowthroat with a speech impediment nesting in our front yard for a couple of years that sang “witchitchitchittittittitty” over and over, but he is not back again this year. The variation in songs from bird to bird sure keeps us bird-watchers on our toes.

All of the warblers I know sing a simple phrase that they repeat over and over. Putting their songs into the traditional words helps me to recognize and remember them. The chestnut-sided warbler is a handsome fellow. He is always in the treetops declaring, “Pleased, pleased, pleased to MEET you!” (I can hear him singing outside the window as I write this.) And the yellow warbler, who looks like a tiny bright yellow canary, says, “Sweet, sweet, I’m so sweet!” The parula warbler sings a less musical but still distinctive “zzzzzzzzeeeeee-UP!”

I have added some more mugs and shirts to my store this month. The new designs include a single tiger swallowtail, a cluster of ripe blueberries, and a botanical drawing study of the white pine. So far, the reviews from people who have bought products have been great.

And just at the right time, Printfection has a holiday sale in process! Here are the coupon codes and the instructions, good for any item in my store:
Coupon Code: StarSavings
Discount: $5 off any order!
Coupon Code: BrightSavings
Discount: $10 off subtotal of $50+
Coupon Code: SpangledSavings
Discount: $30 off subtotal of $100+
Please enter coupon code StarSavings, BrightSavings, or SpangledSavings before completing checkout. Discount is applied to the base price and does not include shipping, taxes, or additional charges. Email us if you have questions. This offer may not be combined with other offers. Coupons valid from 6/29/2011 to 7/5/201111:59 pm Mountain Time.

My gift to you this month is to extend my offer to do a custom item at no extra charge above the stock items. All you have to do is to go to my art website:, pick an image, and tell me what you want it printed on (if it's a shirt, what color you want it, too). I will do the formatting of the image and upload the product to the store just for you, at no extra charge above the regular retail price. I have attached to this newsletter a full list of the merchandise from which you can choose.

For more information on “Swift River Treasures,” my artmaking process, or recent work, or to check out my blog, see my website at Here you can order prints of my work, and have them matted and framed if you choose, courtesy of Fine Art America’s great print-on-demand service. They also offer greeting cards, either single or in packages.

If you want to look at the Moments of Transcendence book, here is the link to it on the booksite: .

Thanks for joining me in the journey. I hope that you enjoy looking at the art as much as I have enjoyed making it! I would love to hear from you, too, so please do reply with comments.