Last week I discovered the beautiful bird paintings by ATM on the Internet and got excited and inspired by the fact that some graffiti artist in Londonactually knows what a snipe is. I mean, I think graffiti artists are cool, but one who paints birds which are on the Threatened Species list in order to spread the message of their decline is really, really cool.
I caught up with ATM over Facebook to ask him more about his motive to paint suffering species in built up areas.
“I paint birds in urban locations because this is where many of our once-common species used to live. The loss of birds in towns and the countryside is often the most visible sign that something is seriously wrong with the way we treat our environment.
If we use toxic slug-killers, aphid sprays and weed-killers in our gardens the birds that eat them will also die. We might not realise that house sparrows and song thrushes are disappearing for these reasons.
Perhaps we don’t care about the loss of small insects or seeding weeds, but when the birds that depend on them are no longer there, we notice. They are the proverbial canary in the mine.
I hope to make more people realise that we have to change the way we behave, for our own sakes too, because the health of ourselves and the environment are one and the same; ultimately we are as dependent on toxin-free air, soil and food as any other living thing.
This fact is easy to forget as we live our urban lives with all our other preoccupations.
We can bring some of these birds back by restoring their habitats. Instead of a concrete forecourt to park a car, plant a hedge where sparrows can feel safe; plant a wild flower garden to attract insects to feed the birds.”
These are a few of his masterpieces painted on the streets of London.
The bittern is one of the rarest breeding birds in the UK and is known for its ‘booming’ call that be heard from many miles away. The bittern has suffered a dramatic decline due to the loss of their reed bed habitat over several decades and is on the Red List making it an endangered species.
The great bustard is the heaviest flying bird with males weighing in up to 16kg. In 1832 the last great bustard in the UKwasshot dead and the bird was extinct until it was reintroduced in 2004 on the Salisbury Plains. Thanks to a major reintroduction plan and conservation efforts by the Great Bustard Group and the RSPB, this huge bird has started to successfully breed and numbers are increasing.
This bird has a loud voice and can sing for several minutes non stop while on the wing. During the 1990s the UK population of the Skylark halved. The main causes of decline are the use of insecticide and weed killers that have reduced their food source and also the widespread switch from spring to autumn sown cereals in field where they nest and feed. The taller and denser autumn sown crops makes it harder for them to nest.
The much-loved barn owl has experienced a major population decline due to several severe winters in recent years and a wet summer in 2012 that killed many nesting owls. Even more worrying is that 91% of dead barn owls found contained rat poison proving the serious effect rodenticides have on these majestic birds.
This long-beaked wading bird has declined in the UKover the last 25 years and is on the Amber List of Threatened Species
You can follow ATM on Facebook
and find these beauties in the Big Smoke. I recommend downloading the Street Art London app when heading out to find his pieces. I wrote about my experience using the app while on a London street art tour
last year. It’s a great tool to help navigate your way from piece to piece using GPS.
ATM is an artist after my own heart. Getting his message across using street art, on such a large scale and in an environment that is not normally associated with wildlife is inspiring and pretty darn cool if you ask me.