Bird Glamour: Scicomm and Cosmetics!

Welcome to Bird Glamour!


I am not shy about professing my bird-nerdiness. Birds, being our only living dinosaurs, have fascinated me for as long as I can remember.

Friends and family often ask me "What's this bird?" The most recent one was a picture posted by a friend on Instagram asking about the identity of an owl (he was having a sick run of awesome owl sightings.) I identified it as a Short-eared Owl, and described it as having a "dramatic smoky eye."

Over the next few days, I started thinking "what if  I showcased different species of birds using their diverse eye patterns and colors as a template for eye makeup?" I mused the question out loud to my husband on a drive, and his response was "That's awesome! Do it! You have to do it!"

And thus #BirdGlamour was born!

Bird Glamour is where I, inexperienced with eye makeup, ask our friends the birds what they would recommend wearing for different occasions. I'll post a new bird eye look each Friday afternoon. If you have a favorite bird you would like to see done, feel free to comment! Comparison images are from (unless otherwise indicated) the Sibley eGuide to Birds of North America Android app.

Newest Bird Glamour looks will be at the top! Also, check out @Lisavipes on Twitter and Instagram for the latest Bird Glamour!

May 11, 2018 - Ruddy Duck

Ruddy Duck uses black and white Bird Glamour to court females during mating season! A bright blue bill is used in the Bubbling Display: males fluff up two feathery horns while they beat their large bills against their chests, making the water bubble. Males finish off their display with a loud burping noise!

May 4, 2018 - Northern Flicker

Northern Flickers team up to give me and my friend Nadine some Bird Glamour tips for home carpentry! There are two types of Northern Flicker: eastern Yellow-shafted Flicker has a black mustache and yellow feather shafts while the western Red-shafted Flicker has a red mustache and red-shafted feathers! There are also hybrids of the two subspecies!

Northern Flickers are no strangers to do-it-yourself! Flickers recommend coppery brown and soft grey for putting holes in wood structures. Northern Flickers are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, so no harming flickers or their nests, even if they seem pesky!

April 27, 2018 - King Eider

King Eider has royal Bird Glamour tips for tundra nesting! Sensitive to climate change, King Eider pairs pastel green and grey with a vibrant yellow-orange bill while diving down to 25 m for marine invertebrates. A bold black and white eyeliner helps to identify the male King Eider from other species of eider.

April 20, 2018 - Pacific Wren

Pacific Wren has Bird Glamour tips for your next musical number! Pacific Wren wants to sing about how it's not a subspecies of the similar-looking Winter Wren! In 2008, genetic & song differences showed that Pacific Wren is indeed a separate species! Check out this paper that separates the two species

To hear a Pacific Wren song, click here.
To hear a Winter Wren song, click here.
April 13, 2018 - Osprey

Osprey is here to offer Bird Glamour tips for an almost exclusively fish diet! Osprey are as particular about their habitat as they are about their black & white fashion: osprey need elevated nesting areas within 20 km of shallow, fish-filled waters!

April 6, 2018 - Herring Gull

Herring Gull gives Bird Glamour tips for looking good while looking for food! A species of Low Concern (populations decreased 3.5% per year from 1966-2015) Herring Gull uses no-nonsense white and grey, with a dab of red on the bill, for feasting on invertebrates and taking opportunities to scavenge!

March 23, 2018 - Harlequin Duck

Harlequin Ducks (aka Squeakers!) give Bird Glamour tips for wintering on rocky sea coasts and breeding along chilly fast-moving streams in northern US, Canada, and the Arctic! Keeping warm and afloat is hard work, so add colorful whimsy to warm air-trapping feathers!

March 16, 2018 - The Urban Interface's Swainson's Hawk "Pandora"

Meet our Bird Glamour model Pandora, Swainson's Hawk Ambassador for The Urban Interface @TUIWildlife! Swainson's Hawks do long-distance migrations from summer breeding grounds in North America to winter homes in Argentina! Learn more about (and support!) the Ambassadors here:

March 9, 2018 - Costa's Hummingbird

Costa's Hummingbird is giving us a splash of summer Bird Glamour! Costa's Hummingbird recommends putting your face out there! Even if shy (they like a separate feeder), flair out your iridescent purple face feathers for displays on the southwest coast of North America!

Here is a video showing the mating display of the male Costa's Hummingbird!

March 2, 2018 - Willow Ptarmigan

In honor of the fresh snow, Willow Ptarmigan will give us this week's Bird Glamour tips! Roaming tundras since the Ice Age, it is Willow Ptarmigan fashion to keep your red plumage all year - especially if you're a British Willow Ptarmigan - while molting to your white winter plumage elsewhere else around the world!

February 23, 2018 - Snow Bunting

Snow Bunting has Bird Glamour tips for high Arctic breeding! A tundra nesting bird in steep decline, male Snow Buntings don't molt into breeding plumage: males rub their brown feather tips on snow until they are worn away, revealing white and black feathers underneath! Don't try that type of makeup remover or exfoliator at home!

February 16, 2018 - Horned Lark

Horned Lark has Bird Glamour tips for visiting open fields and high elevations! An Arctic breeding bird in decline, Horned Larks vary the amount of yellow around a bold black under-eye mask. Little black "horns" can be tricky to see! Horned Larks pave the area around their nests with pebbles!

February 9, 2018 - Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker has Bird Glamour tips for visiting feeders in eastern North America: be fierce with red and white, and keep 'em guessing with your name since your red is on your head, not your belly! Look for Red-bellied Woodpecker during the Great Backyard Bird Count on February 16-19!

January 26, 2018 - Evening Grosbeak

Evening Grosbeak has Bird Glamour tips for visiting winter feeders! Use that heavy bill to crush and crunch larger feeder while rocking a heavy yellow eyebrow! Evening Grosbeak are irruptive so you might not see these large finches every year!

January 19, 2018 - Snowy Owl

This week's Bird Glamour is the Snowy Owl! Snowy Owl recommends black eyeliner surrounded by snowy white for daytime hunting (yup, a diurnal owl!) Some years Snowy Owls stay in summer Arctic and northern breeding grounds, but other years travels south, like this year!

December 29, 2017 - Common Redpoll

Here is the last Bird Glamour of 2017! Common Redpoll is a stylish and cold-hardy winter bird. Use red accents with a brown and cream base for looking fab while surviving -50 C temperatures in nighttime snow tunnels and breeding in lands around the Arctic Ocean!

December 25, 2017 - Northern Cardinal

A Bird Glamour Happy Holiday Special! Northern Cardinal recommends a vibrant red with black eyeliner for singing in backyards and quiet neighborhoods. Both males and females sing complex songs!

December 22, 2017 - Boreal Chickadee

Boreal Chickadee has important Bird Glamour tips for visiting my feeders! This mostly Canadian chickadee uses browns and greys, instead of the classic Black-capped Chickadee black and white, for the perfect seed-caching look in boreal forests.

December 15, 2017 - Pine Grosbeak

Here are some Bird Glamour tips from Pine Grosbeak! "Layering pinks (for males) and oranges (females and young) over grey is the perfect look for finches nipping off conifer buds and eating seeds at feeders!"

December 8, 2017 - Great Blue Heron

I asked Great Blue Heron for Bird Glamour tips! North America's largest heron with great night vision (high percentage of rod-like photoreceptors) recommends shades of blue-grey for wading for fish in both fresh & saltwater environments.

December 1, 2017 - Varied Thrush

I asked Varied Thrush for Bird Glamour tips while foraging for insects in forests. "It can't be any forest: old growth/mature forests larger than ~40 acres in Pacific Northwest are our scene. Orange w black stripes never go out of style!"

November 24, 2017 - Wild Turkey

Gobble gobble! Since our US friends have turkey on their minds, Bird Glamour celebrates Wild Turkey! Our largest North American game bird, turkeys have a fossil record in the US back to the Pliocene!

November 10, 2017 - Lark Sparrow

Lark Sparrow has Bird Glamour tips for walking - not hopping - in fields: be bold! Now wintering in Mexico, Lark Sparrows have an elaborate courtship display and will reuse thrasher & mockingbird nests! Request by @kuchtam

November 3, 2017 - Ae'o (Hawaiian Black-necked Stilt)

Ae'o (endangered subspecies of Black-necked Stilt endemic to Hawaii) likes a contrasting black & white pattern for wading in shallow water! Go see @Hawaiianimages for more pics of ae'o!

October 31, 2017 - Halloween Special: Harpy Eagle and Bearded Vulture

The Harpy Eagle is a neotropical raptor known for eating sloths and monkeys! Harpy Eagles are a lovely smoky grey color and also come with a resplendent crest of feathers. For Halloween, I decided to take the Bird Glamour up a notch and add a feathered crest. Rich joined in on the Halloween fun and went as the Bearded Vulture, a bird of prey (not really a true vulture!) from Asia and Africa that is so hardcore it breaks and eats bones.
The Harpy Eagle.
The Lammergeier, or Bearded Vulture, getting ready to crack open some tasty bones!

October 22, 2017 - The Cockatiel and the Barred Owl

My friend Nadine got in on some Bird Glamour action to stage a play for you called "The Cockatiel and the Barred Owl," a tale that reminds us our exotic feathery friends, such as cockatiels, are really better off indoors or in nice aviaries.

October 27, 2017 - Bohemian Waxwing Video Tutorial with Audubon Society

I worked with Audubon Society to develop my first-ever Bird Glamour video tutorial! You may see more of these in the future!

October 6, 2017 - Bohemian Waxwing

Bohemian Waxwings, and the closely related species Cedar Waxwings start flocking up in the fall and visiting berry bushes! You'll hear their high-pitched trilling in the tops of fruit trees. Unfortunately, fruit that has been hit with frost can ferment, creating alcohol that the waxwings consume. This can lead to their deaths, either through intoxication-related accidents or alcohol poisoning. Be sure to clean frost-hit fall fruit off of your trees!

September 29, 2017 - Secretary Bird

Stomp! Stomp! Secretary birds are a long-legged bird of prey native to sub-Saharan Africa. They spend a lot of time hunting on foot...and using their feet to capture their prey with a viciously quick and powerful stomp! Read more about the snake-stomping Secretary bird here.

September 16, 2017 - South Korea: Black-faced Spoonbill and Long-eared Owl

My friend Suijin (ichnology graduate student) joined me in some Bird Glamour! She is a Long-eared Owl. I went as the Black-faced Spoonbill. Spoonbills have a specialized bill that sweeps the sediment of a shallow lake or river to stir up fish and other tasty treats, leaving crescent-shaped marks. In South Korea, there is an Early Cretaceous bird track type called Ignotornis gajinensis that preserves spoonbill-like crescent scour marks! It is likely that this bird trackmaker had a bill like that of a modern-day spoonbill!

September 8, 2017 - Black-browed Albatross

A fitting Bird Glamour before our flight to South Korea! Albatross are a fascinating, but endangered, group of birds known for their amazing long-distance flight. Learn more about albatross here:

September 2, 2017 - Vulture Awareness Day: Hooded Vulture and Lammergeier

Vultures do not get the love they deserve. Important scavengers, vultures are threatened by poisoning (unintentional and deliberate) as well as ignorance.

The Hooded Vulture is a Red-List species. Learn more here.
Hooded Vulture (Necrosyrtes monachus).
The Lammergeier, or Bearded Vulture, is actually not in the vulture group: it's a fancy-pants bird of prey that has adapted to the high-altitude mountains of Asia and Africa. It is famous for not only decorating its white plumage with red and orange mud but also for breaking and eating bone!

September 1, 2017 - Western Tanager

A common sight during the summer, the insect-hunting Western Tanager is a little different from other birds that have bright red in their plumage. Western Tanagers use rhodoxanthin, rather than carotenoids, to produce their bright orange-red colors.

August 25, 2017 - Society of Vertebrate Paleontology Annual Auction: Anchiornis

In honor of the SVP conference, I had to do a fossil-themed Bird Glamour. I put it to a vote, and Anchiornis huxleyi won by a fair margin. You can see why: this feathered dinosaur made a big splash in the news when paleontologists figured out the original feather colors from preserved melanosomes! Here's a write-up on the study, showing how we know the feathers were black, rusty-red, and white.

August 18, 2017 - Yellow Warbler

"Sweet, sweet, I'm so sweet!" Yellow Warblers are a common sight among the tops of deciduous trees and tips of branches during the summer, foraging tiny insects. While mostly yellow, the males have rusty red stripes on their breast.

August 11, 2017 - Blue-cheeked Bee-eater

During our trip to Turkmenistan to help assess an application for a UNESCO World Heritage Site, I saw so many birds that left an impression on me. One of my favorites was the Blue-cheeked Bee-eater. My photography skills were just passable enough to take a picture of a Blue-cheeked Bee-eater catching a flying insect on the wing.
It's grainy and taken from a moving train, but I love this picture.

August 4, 2017 - Great Grey Owl for International Owl Awareness Day

In honor of #internationalowlawarenessday, the Great Grey Owl suggests greys and silver around bright yellow eyes when hunting for prey mammals from trees! #BirdGlamour

July 28, 2017 - Barn Swallow

This week's #BirdGlamour tips come from the busy Barn Swallow! These frequent barn inhabitants hunt insects on the wing and recommend a simple yet striking dark blue and rusty orange for hunting out high-protein nibbles. #sciart #scicomm

July 21, 2017 - Sora

This week's #BirdGlamour tips come from a shy, secretive bird with a big song, the Sora. This little rail recommends smoky blues and browns for singing stealthily in the marshes. #sciart

July 18, 2017 - American Kestrel

Recent #BirdGlamour tips come from our friend American Kestrel! This itty-bitty falcon isn't afraid to frame their eyes with bold geometric black patterns when hovering over their prey...and neither should you!

July 7, 2017 - Killdeer

Ow, ow, I hurt my wing...or did I? Surprise! I picked up some acting lessons while getting #BirdGlamour tips from our friend Killdeer! This plover is famous for its broken wing display, which they use to lure predators away from babies! Killdeer recommends lining red eyes with black, white, and buff. Perfect for attending and performing in Shakespeare In The Park.

July 3, 2017 - Atlantic Puffin for World Seabird Day

The Atlantic Puffin is one of many seabirds that, on #WorldSeabirdDay, wish we humans would stop throwing so much plastic waste into the oceans.

June 30, 2017 - Anna's Hummingbird

Anna's Hummingbird, the city of Vancouver's Official Bird, is known for striking deep pink hues contrasting with vibrant greens. Anna's Hummingbird recommends this look for a day of sipping sugary drinks at your local flowers and feeders. Be sure to keep your hummingbird feeders clean: dirty hummingbird feeders are dangerous to our flying jewels!

June 23, 2017 - Blue Jay

A familiar guest at our feeders, Blue Jays are a bright and cheeky member of the corvid family (crows, ravens, magpies, and jays.) Blue Jay recommends various shades of blue for visiting your local seed and nut feeders!

June 17 - Western Meadowlark

Western Meadowlarks have been present during every one of our field expeditions into the prairie provinces, waking us at the crack of dawn with their boisterous, melodious voices. Western Meadowlarks recommend balancing neutral browns with a vibrant yellow for early morning choir performances.

June 16 - Gray Jay

While hoped to be Canada's National Bird - but now it seems like that won't happen - the Grey Jay is an important part of First Nations traditional stories and artwork (read more here,) and a beloved visitor to campgrounds and hiking trails...or anywhere where people are going to bring snacks into the woods! Grey Jay recommends smoky grey with a dark grey eyeliner, partnered with white highlights. I wore this Bird Glamour look to the welcome reception for the British Columbia Field Ornithologists' meeting in Tumbler Ridge.

June 9, 2017 - Short-eared Owl

My first Bird Glamour! Short-eared Owls recommend a dramatic smoky eye (it helps if you have yellow eyes, but that's something owls do best) with pale beige highlights.


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