For the first time in months, it feels good to be outside. It’s 60 degrees and rising, and New York is in joyous, energetic, unusually celebratory spirits. We’re on a city wide, sun-induced high. This weather-induced flight calls to mind an upward journey of a different variety – that of birds.
These aerial creatures are some of our most cherished symbols. For many, birds mean freedom. For others, they represent home. They symbolize the future. They embody escape. All attractive qualities.
Sailors tattoo sparrows on their chests when they go out to sea. And when they see a sparrow, they know home is near. A blackbird can mean a good omen. It can imply supernatural prowess. A bluebird symbolizes springtime and spiritual awakening. Change. Innocence. Falcon’s bring protection. Hummingbird’s suggest permanence. It is said that when a bird flies in your house, fickle luck is not far behind. And when we travel, we see a plethora of exotic birds; these may symbolize something else entirely.
From Alfred Hitchcock to Ernesto Caivano, artists have looked to birds for inspiration. Wes Lang draws meticulous pencil renderings of birds alongside images of pin-ups and whiskey bottles. In Kiki Smith’s work, birds appear time and again – as twenty-foot prints (“The Destruction of Birds”) and in quasi-mythological, half-human sculptures. Edgar Allen Poe gave the raven unforgettable chill. Maya Angelou equated a bird with a resilient, anguish-filled escape.
As we move from winter into spring - when we start to hear dawn, when the birds start singing - we've had birds on our brains. They’re a signal of spring. And we’re looking forward to more 70 degree days, to hearing the birds singing again in the morning.