Taking the Long View: An inside look at the goings-on at the longest running avian ecology field station west of the Mississippi.

If You Can’t Choose One, Draw Them All!

This is a story of an artist inspired by science. Or… it’s a story of a scientist inspired by art. Hmmm, actually, it’s both! This is a story of how beautifully art and science can merge to support a person’s path through life and inspire others along the way.

Birds of Palomarin by Larissa Babicz

After about five months of work, Larissa Babicz, former Point Blue Apprentice, completed Birds of Palomarin, a drawing showing all 78 bird species that were caught, documented, and released back into the wild last year during her 2022 spring/summer field research season at the Palomarin Field Station. It spans February through October, so includes some of spring migration, some of fall migration, and the full nesting season.

“There were several reasons I decided to embark on this intensive project,” she shared. “The main one simply being that it’s fun!” She is often inspired by the things she sees in nature, and during her field seasons she sees a lot! Normally, she would make some sketches or do one or two drawings that you might see on her social media pages (@larissababiczart). When she thought of her experience at Point Blue’s Palomarin Field Station, she couldn’t really choose between all the cool birds she worked with! This, at least, was what first sparked the idea for the project. If she couldn’t choose, why not draw them all?

“I decided to take a break from fieldwork over the winter to think about whether I wanted to continue doing fieldwork or commit to being a full-time bird artist,” she said. She thought this project would give her the opportunity to try the art route for a little while.

The plant species in the drawing are also part of the study she contributed to at Palomarin. They are plants she monitored throughout the season with her fellow apprentices for when changes like budding and blossoming happened throughout the season: the timing of things, otherwise known as phenology. Most plant phases are included in the drawing, although a few were omitted (mostly because they couldn’t fit or she couldn’t get a color match, but a couple of them she simply forgot about; I believe they call that an artist’s license!). The birds are pictured in various feather phases or plumages – some are juveniles, some are adults, and she intentionally balanced males and females. “Some even show plumage characteristics that allow you to micro-age them! Do you have your Pyle guide handy?” she quizzes! The “Pyle Guide” (Identification Guide to North American Birds, by Peter Pyle) is a reference book on how to determine age, sex, and species of birds when you have them in hand as a biologist. The long-term study at Point Blue’s Palomarin Field Station contributed significantly to this book, which is used throughout the country and the Americas in bird monitoring studies.

As she worked on the drawing in pastel, the piece slowly came to life and embodied a summary of her experiences at Palomarin. “With every bird I drew, I remembered all the wonderful times there, the birds, the amazing scenery of Point Reyes, and the people I got to work with – some of the best people I’ve ever known,” she shared.

Meet the Artist/Scientist

We interviewed artist and scientist Larissa Babicz on October 11th, 2023 via Zoom webinar to learn more about this piece and her journey.
Watch it here.

Buy Prints and the Original Artwork

Prints are available for purchase on Larissa’s website as well as the full species list. The original artwork, a 27.5×39.5 inch soft pastel on pastel mat board piece, is for sale with 40% of proceeds being donated to Point Blue to support our science and training programs. Please contact Larissa directly via her website here or purchase via Etsy here if you’re interested in purchasing the original to support her and Point Blue. Follow her on Instagram via @larissababiczart.

Art & Science at Point Blue

At Point Blue we proactively and reactively engage with artists in projects/pieces/events that promote, communicate, and involve communities in conservation work in ever-evolving, impactful ways. Want to collaborate or fund a collaboration? Please reach out to Lishka Arata, Communications Manager, at