Birds of a Feather

An ornithological mural takes flight

Muralist Jean Kim at work (Shailee Shah; courtesy Inkdwell)
Muralist Jean Kim at work (Shailee Shah; courtesy Inkdwell)


It all started with an empty map of the world projected onto a wall 70 feet long and 40 feet tall, in the visitors center of Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology. Over the course of two and a half years, muralist Jane Kim and seven assistants filled the space with birds—members of all 243 avian families, painted to scale, plus prehistoric predecessors of the modern bird. The recently finished mural, From So Simple a Beginning: Celebrating the Evolution and Diversity of Birds, commemorates the centennial of the Ithaca lab, its ornithologists having lent their expertise to the project. A website will be launched later this year offering viewers a chance to study in detail all the birds portrayed in the mural.

Permission required for reprinting, reproducing, or other uses.

Our Editors include Sudip Bose, Bruce Falconer, Stephanie Bastek, Jayne Ross, and Ellie Eberlee.


Please enter a valid email address
That address is already in use
The security code entered was incorrect
Thanks for signing up