I Call Fowl on Mocking Ghosts of Decorating Past

I was nodding along in agreement and chuckling here and there to the DIY channel’s “That’s So 80s” comedic quips about old decorating trends until we got to the swans. Ouch! They hit a nerve. What’s wrong with swans? I think swan bathtub fixtures say, “I’m fiery and fierce yet graceful and elegant!” I honestly don’t remember a swan phase in the 80s but I’ll take their word for it. My own childhood home was without avian representation and I don’t recall any friends’ houses displaying any such water bird accouterments, but I have no doubt that I would have enjoyed some swan swag very much.

“Remember that awful rooster phase?” scoffs comedians from the future.

Admittedly, our kitchen is a bit heavy on game birds, but I can’t help myself. I can’t go in to any local craft or home accessories store without spotting new, interesting and unique fowl. That gasp of joy that came from the traditional home decor section?  It was me spotting a new ceramic hen or a rooster-embellished serving tray. Some items are just for looks, others are practical, and there are always limitless styles to suit every taste. Presently, I have a penchant for capturing some facsimile of birds that I’ve seen in person.

If only the birds got a cut of the proceeds from sales on ALL bird-related items, they’d be perching pretty.

All those ancient Egyptians can’t be wrong.

While the “it” bird may change through the years, I think bird décor will continue to stand the test of time. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, now through July 28th, The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago will have a special exhibit: Between Heaven and Earth: Birds in Ancient Egypt. “The exhibit includes forty artifacts that emphasize how omnipresent birds were in ancient Egyptian culture.”

Perhaps the falcon reigned supreme in homes circa 300 B.C. (I’d be delighted to know if people back then also fussed over where to place a carving in the wall or where to set a statue.) It just so happened that the swan took the spotlight in the 80s. It seems to me that the rooster has run away with the past decade. I thought the owl craze was just a passing fancy for t-shirts and necklaces but I’m now seeing a lot more of these raptors gracing earthenware and other kitchen accessories, giving new charm to the barred owl’s question, “Who cooks for you?”

It’s a beautiful (birding) life.

When I first started thinking about creating this blog, I wondered if there might be people who like bird decor 3I didn’t think the odds were grand, but still, I knew I wasn’t the only person in the world who was interested in this. Simple searches on pinterest expose flocks of us who just want to “put a bird on it.”

Since I don’t sell or make any bird-related items, I hatched a wonderful concept of creating a book about bird décor instead of a blog. Like the dog suspenders idea, I soon discovered that such a book already exists, but I could not have imagined it would be so much more than I could have ever envisioned. The Birding Life: A Passion for Birds at Home and Afield to me is like fine dark chocolate, each chapter one piece to unwrap and slowly savor. There are interesting and clever stories about experts and general enthusiasts from diverse backgrounds, blended with art and history. Words and images unite to enlighten, entertain, delight and inspire the bird-loving reader. Not only is the book itself a lovely piece to display on the coffee table, I appreciate the opportunity to take a gander at others’ avis wares.

While it’s fun to joke about the past of why we did this or that, we did it because it was chic or fun at the time, and I honor that. There are some former trends I doubt I’d resurrect in this lifetime, but in all the ways that we celebrate birds, I have yet to see a thing worth mocking.

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