Captivating views of birdlife

The Art of Birds matches deeply evocative photographs to the best observations of Florida birdlife from past centuries. The book left me with a fresh desire to explore our parks and public lands anew, to feel how wild birds make the place.”—Eric Draper, director, Florida State Parks

“Stunning; brilliant! The Art of Birds is truly a visionary work from the heart and eyes of a gifted photographer and will serve as a reminder to us all of the elegance and grace that defines our natural world.”—Joe Hutto, author of Illumination in the Flatwoods: A Season Living Among the Wild Turkey

“Miller shows us the aerodynamic perfection of the wings of the black skimmer, and the plunge of a pelican like a javelin into the waters of the Gulf. We see the spiraling feathers surrounding the piercing eye of the great blue heron, the singular linear patterns formed by the legs of wading birds, and the delicacy of the snowy plumage of egrets. Miller shows us why artists and scientists have been held in fascination of Florida birds for hundreds of years.”—Ron Yrabedra, artist and professor emeritus, Florida A&M University

“In photographing Florida’s abundant array of exotic birds, Miller has captured their dazzling combination of form, color, and motion.”—Janine Farver, former executive director, Florida Humanities Council  

In photographs that surprise with their eye-catching composition and amaze with their detail, The Art of Birds: Grace and Motion in The Wild captures the beauty of birds as most people never see them. Jim Miller focuses his camera lens on distinctive and spectacular species found in the wetlands and along the shorelines of Florida and the southeast, portraying their behaviors in their natural habitats.        

Ranging from striking portraits to high speed stop-action shots, the images showcase the splendor of large birds such as the anhinga, great blue heron, sandhill crane, snowy egret, osprey, and flamingo. They also depict the charm of smaller species including the ruddy turnstone, boat-tailed grackle, and the least bittern. Many of the photographs display brilliant plumage up close. Others show aspects of bird life related to courting, feeding, and flying.           

Accompanying the images are descriptions of the species by early naturalists and ornithologists, from William Bartram to John James Audubon to Arthur Cleveland Bent. The excerpts from their narratives and journals reveal bird populations and environments that we can only imagine today, providing an homage to Old Florida through the perspectives of some of its most astute and eloquent chroniclers.           

Miller’s captivating photography encourages viewers to marvel at the elegant combination of form and function in bird species, perfected by processes of adaptation and selection over millions of years. The Art of Birds celebrates the creativity of nature, the joy of observation, and the richness of birdlife.

Glossy Ibis

“The upper part and sides of the head are dark glossy, with purplish reflections. The neck, a portion of the back anteriorly, the breast, abdomen, and legs, are of a deep rich brownish-red or dark chestnut; part of the breast shaded with green, the sides dusky, tinged with green, as are the lower wing-coverts, and lower tail-coverts. Excepting the anterior edge of the wing, and the anterior scapulars, which are deep glossy brownish-red, the upper parts are splendent dark green, glossed with purple; the primaries black, shaded with green; the tail glossy with purple reflections.”—John James AudubonThe Birds of America: from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories

Black-bellied Plover

“The black-bellied plover is an aristocrat among shore birds, the largest and strongest of the plovers, a leader of its tribe. It is a distinguished-looking bird in its handsome spring livery of black and white; and its attitude, as it stands like a sentinel on the crest of a sand dune or on some distant mud flat, is always dignified and imposing.”—Arthur Cleveland BentLife Histories of North American Shore Birds


“Winging its way slowly over the water, it keeps a keen watch for fish which may appear near the surface. When one is observed it pauses, hovers a moment, and then closing its wings descends with a speed and directness of aim that generally insure success. It strikes the water with great force, making a loud splash, and frequently disappears for a moment before rising with its prey grasped in its powerful talons. As a rule, it carries its food to some favorite perch, there to devour it.”—Frank M. ChapmanHandbook of Birds of Eastern North America

Snowy Egret

“This beautiful little heron, one of nature’s daintiest and most exquisite creatures, is the most charming of all our marsh birds. The spotless purity of its snowy plumage, adorned with airy, waving plumes, and its gentle, graceful manners, make it the center of attraction wherever it is seen. While darting about in the shallow water in pursuit of its lively prey, its light curving plumes fluttering in the breeze, it is a pretty picture of lovely animation.”—Arthur Cleveland BentLife Histories of North American Marsh Birds

Jim Miller has exhibited his photography at galleries and museums across the southeast. The former state archaeologist for the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research, he has explored the state’s natural lands and waters for decades, and he has combined his lifelong interests in art and natural history in his bird photography.

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