The latest Toronto NatureSketch Club adventure took place behind the scenes at the Royal Ontario Museum! The children are following in the footsteps of Robert Bateman who began taking classes at the ROM in 1942 (at the age of 12) to learn how to carve birds out of wood.
Our morning began with Naturalist and avian expert, Mark Peck, giving us a private tour of the museum’s vast collection of more than 140,000 birds - many of which are over a century old. The kids got to touch a variety of wings and marvel at numerous birds; some barely larger than a Tic-Tac! Equally impressive was the collection of eggs, particularly, the watermelon sized egg of the now extinct Elephant bird.
The children also learned about the demise of the Passenger Pigeon and how bird populations are threatened by human activities in the present day.
Mark also shared a few bird calls including his spot on “Who Cooks for You? Who cooks for you all” impression of a Barred Owl.
After being overwhelmed with inspiration, the kids got busy sketching mounted birds in the classroom. Working directly from taxidermy that’s been prepared by an expert is a great way to become familiar with avian features before attempting to sketch birds in the wild.
It’s interesting to consider, that within this group of curious, young artists, we could be very well be seeing the first drawings of the next Bateman.
A big thanks to Mark Peck for sharing your passion & knowledge about birds with the NatureSketch Club! I’m sure the children won’t soon forget this memorable day at the ROM.
Up next week, the kids get a close (but not too close) encounter with Cactus!
Happy Nature Sketching!