By Linda Carloni
Western Bluebirds are favorites of many, with the male’s brilliant royal-blue colors and rusty breast.
The species has long been seen on Alameda Point perching near the soccer fields and using the nest boxes installed for them near Crab Cove. They’ve been expanding through Alameda neighborhoods, and a particularly large and colorful male just stopped by on my driveway.
Westy, as I’ve named him, is the chalk-art rendering I won at Golden Gate Audubon’s recent Online Bird Art Auction.
The auction had its start this spring, when the COVID-19 shelter-in-place caused GGAS to cancel all in-person events of Birdathon, GGAS’s principal annual fundraising event. A group of volunteers seized on the idea of transforming our regular auction of experiences and items into all-art auction, sharing the proceeds with the artists, who are all suffering from the pandemic shutdown as well. The auction was a big success, generating a lot of spirited bidding and about $20,000 in sales.
Westy is the work of Clayton Anderson, a talented artist, accomplished naturalist, and head of GGAS’ Youth Education Program. Nature study and art have always gone together for Anderson – his mother saved a piece of his art from kindergarten, a picture of many kinds of plants, and his childhood was filled with aquariums with fish, frogs, a turtle and other creatures.
Anderson’s degree is in art, but his career has focused on nature education.
At GGAS, he’s been able to blend the two at various chalk art events, including one that was part of the campaign to protect the Black-crowned Night-Herons in Oakland and one in Richmond, celebrating their selection of the Osprey as the City Bird.
I selected the Western Bluebird for my drawing because I love its rich colors, because it’s my “bluebird of happiness,” and because I saw the first Western Bluebirds in my immediate neighborhood early in the pandemic shutdown.
You’re welcome to come (masked) to visit him on the east side of Paru Street, between Lincoln and Santa Clara. Come soon before he fades!
Linda Carloni is a member of the Board of Golden Gate Audubon, and co-chair of its Friends of the Alameda Wildlife Reserve committee. To find out more about helping to protect birds in Alameda, email email@example.com. To learn about Clay Anderson’s art, email firstname.lastname@example.org.