Birds of Missouri

Birds of Missouri by Gail Sirna

Our new daughter-in-law is Jewish, and she really enjoys celebrating Christmas with us. She needed a Christmas stocking, and yet the traditional Christian themes were probably not appropriate. She lives in the country, in northeast Missouri, and has lately become an avid birder. This is such a change for the New Yorker who has become a country girl and birds fill a special need for beauty.

Rachel suggested this theme herself, as her interest in avian life continues to grow, and she gave me a list of her favorite birds–the ones that visit their homestead most often. I originally planned 5 birds, but couldn’t choose because they were all so beautiful, so I finally narrowed it down to eight. In two cases I also included the female as her plumage was so dramatically different from that of the male. All in all, I stitched ten birds.

The birds are worked on 24/inch congress cloth which has then been appliquéd onto #18 canvas. Each bird is worked as realistically as possible and all are stitched in Soie d’Alger. In most cases there are 4-6 colors in each solid area of the bird; this does not include the wings or tails or heads which are usually different.

Rachel and my son Tony wanted to keep everything on the stocking indigenous to their area of Missouri–indeed this is the way they choose to lead their lives. The only evergreen which is native to the area is the Eastern Red Cedar so that is the foliage I have chosen to compliment the birds. It is a bushy tree with short needles; birds treat it as their refuge and hide among its branches. In some ways the birds were less prominent once I added the greenery, but then I realized that is the purpose of their plumage and this is what protects them from predators.

It is my hope that we will fill this stocking for many years to come.