In Upper Manhattan, Murals Depict Birds Threatened by Climate Change

Tundra Swan by Boy Kong//Camilla Cerea, National Audubon Society
Tundra Swan by Boy Kong//Camilla Cerea, National Audubon Society / Tundra Swan by Boy Kong//Camilla Cerea, National Audubon Society

If you’ve strolled through upper Manhattan lately, a series of bright, graffiti-inspired bird murals might have caught your eye. These paintings aren’t your average community beautification project—they depict avian species that are threatened or endangered by climate change.

The works dot the Hamilton Heights and Washington Heights neighborhoods, and cover gates, stoops, and walls. (Fittingly, famed bird artist and naturalist John James Audubon once lived not far away.) They’re the result of a collaboration between the National Audubon Society and a local art gallery, and are intended to raise awareness of the birds’ plight.

In late 2014, the Aubudon Society released its Birds and Climate Change Report. The findings were sobering: 314 birds might lose their habitats by 2080 due to global warming. In response, Washington Heights resident Avi Gitler, who owns the Hamilton Heights–based gallery Gitler &____, convinced his landlord to donate mural spaces across upper Manhattan to depict the at-risk birds. Gitler and Audubon teamed up to raise funds and commissioned artists to re-create the winged creatures.

So far, the Audubon Mural Project has completed 21 murals [map PDF] representing 30 climate-threatened birds. Eventually, they'll paint all 314 birds from the Birds Climate Change Report. Check out some pictures of the murals below, and see if you can identify any of the represented species. (If you get stuck, the birds are identified in the captions.)

Allen's Hummingbird by Sockychop // Mike Fernandez, National Audubon Society

American Red Start by James Alicea // Mike Fernandez, National Audubon Society

Bald Eagle by Peter Daverington // Camilla Cerea, National Audubon Society

House Finch by Mr. Mustart // Mike Fernandez, National Audubon Society

Swallow-tailed Kite (and others) by Lunar New Year // Mike Fernandez, National Audubon Society

Tundra Swan by Boy Kong // Camilla Cerea, National Audubon Society

Endangered Harlem by Gaia // Mike Fernandez, National Audubon Society

Tricolored Heron by Lena Cruz // Mila Tenaglia, National Audubon Society

[h/t Grist