A few years ago, on a lark, I entered -- and won! -- a local duct tape art contest. My entry was a barn owl, wings spread, clutching a mouse in its talons. The title: "Dinner's Ready!" It won first prize. I was, naturally, completely thrilled, since it was the first time I had entered and won anything in an art show, so it gave me a big confidence boost in the first years of developing my art career as close to a full-time pursuit.
My mother loved the picture I sent her so much, I made a copy for her for Christmas that year, and added a wire so she could hang it from a rafter in her kitchen. The next year, I made her a cardinal in flight, which is now hanging next to the owl. This year, I am continuing the tradition with this ivory-billed woodpecker. I personally believe that the ivory bill is still out there, hiding in the swamps of the South, and will rise again when its numbers have increased to safe levels. In my mind, at least, it is still alive and free.