Introducing her new book on Jemima, the Blue Jay
Julie Zickefoose started off as an illustrator of natural history subjects as a college freshman in 1976. A six-year stint as a field biologist with The Nature Conservancy’s Connecticut Chapter proved a strong motivator both to learn more about ecosystems and to go back to drawing. Along the way, she began to write her own essays, studded with observations of birds and animals, and writing slowly crept into the forefront of her interests. Bird Watcher’s Digest has been the major print venue for her writing since 1986, and she’s painted 27 covers for the magazine.
Julie’s first book of illustrated essays, Letters from Eden, was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2006. The Bluebird Effect: Uncommon Bonds With Common Birds was Oprah’s Book of the Week in April 2012. It’s an amalgam of memoir, natural history, watercolor paintings and life sketches. Her newest book is Baby Birds: An Artist Looks Into the Nest. It’s a groundbreaking work, depicting nestling development day by day, from hatch to fledging and beyond, in more than 500 life-sized watercolor studies. As fascinating as nestling growth is, no one had ever done it.
Julie had a five-year run contributing commentaries to National Public Radio’s All Things Considered from 2005-2010, telling stories of bird-eating bullfrogs and orphaned hummingbirds. Julie Zickefoose on Blogspot, her natural history blog sustained thrice weekly since 2005, entertains around 30,000 visits per month.
Julie and her family live in a ranch house topped by a 42 foot tall birdwatching tower. 190 species of birds and 78 butterfly species have graced the 80-acre sanctuary to date. With a dozen species of breeding warblers and more gardens than any one person should probably try to take care of, Indigo Hill has everything Julie needs to keep writing and drawing for a very long time.