Judging A Birding Tattoo Contest

It has been a crazy two weeks. An example: punk rock big year

My new book was a prize in a tattoo contest at a bird festival...said no person ever until Biggest Week in Birding 2013. Above is Paul Riss from Punk Rock Big Year and Rue Mapp from Outdoor Afro who were among the five judges. When Kim Kaufman asked if I would be part of the tattoo contest, I wasn't sure if she meant as a participant since I have a couple of tattoos, but she meant as a judge.

I happily agreed and then I wondered how many entries there would be...we had 11 which is 10 more than I expected.

black swamp bird observatory tattoo


This one surprised me--the logo for Black Swamp Bird Observatory. That's one heck of an organization that can inspire such loyalty from it's employees.

peacock tattoo

There were the expected tattoo birds, like a peacock tattoo so large that we could not see the whole thing without the contest suddenly being rated R. But still quality bird work.

tanager tattoo


There were charming ones like a  scarlet tanager with the song title, "Don't Stop Believing."

cape may tattoo


There were really beautiful and artistic ones like this Cape May warbler which had been a nemesis bird and she had it applied to her side after finally getting one at Biggest Week in 2012.

peterson tattoo

There was a Roger Tory Peterson art tattoo. This kestrel and peregrine falcon are from his cover of the Peterson Guide to Hawks.

kenn kaufman


One contestant went the extra mile and hand a tattoo of crossbill feet designed by field guide author Kenn Kaufman who was even on hand to explain how accurate the bird feet were...lol, she brought in a ringer!

runner up


Then the tattoos got serious. There are multiple birds on here like a drongo and above that you can see a black vulture and turkey vulture head. I thought that we had our overall grand prize winner here...

tattoo winner

Until this guy took off his shirt. He had bird tattoos all over (even a raven that was about to chomp his nipple which I can't believe I didn't get a shot of. But look at the flying pileated woodpecker/ivory-billed woodpecker tattoos.  Wow. On his left shoulder, you can see a double-crested cormorant--who gets a cormorant as a tattoo? This guy, because it was his spark bird. He had more like herons and a few storks flying on his back but he wowed us the most and won the overall contest and a pair of Eagle Optics binoculars.

Bird Tattoo Contest Winners



This was posted on the Biggest Week Facebook page, the judges and that winners.  I think the contest was a bigger hit than any of us anticipated and word on the street is that there will be another one next year. Get your ink on now. I've already had two people tell me what they are going to get tattooed on for next year. As they say when you get inked: go big or go home...or maybe just go birding.