Book Release: Mecklenburg Breeding Bird Atlas

Excerpt from article by Amber Veverka, The Charlotte Observer, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013

The golden-crowned kinglet leans over a sketched-twig perch, his bright eye peering out from the page at his creator, Leigh Anne Carter.

Carter, 27, is a scientific illustrator, a member of a storied profession whose practitioners from famous naturalists such as John James Audubon to modern-day illustrators at the National Geographic Society convey scientific data through the grace and power of art.

The project is the Mecklenburg Breeding Bird Atlas, and it will tell researchers, for the first time, precisely which species of birds still make their homes in the county and how Mecklenburg's rampant development may be affecting their populations. Some 125 species breed in the county, while others make it their temporary home. The collecting of data about the birds is being done in a scientifically repeatable way so that it will serve as a baseline for the future, to help birders and scientists document changes in a region where the human population is projected to jump by nearly 300,000 by 2030.

These animals represent the health of (the) overall habitat, said Donald Seriff, Breeding Bird Atlas coordinator and conservation biologist for Mecklenburg Park & Recreation. If you lose the bird, you lose hundreds of other species.

An original illustration of any kind of plant or animal species that is done well adds a tremendous amount to any publication on plants or animals, said Seriff. The atlas also will include photographs, but unlike photos, illustrations can emphasize information with close-ups and detail, Carter said, and provide a lively portrait showing the most typical examples of a species markings or form.

Golden Crowned Kinglet - Leigh Ann Carter > Illustrations by GNSI member Leigh Anne Carter

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