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the dodo

The Fabulous Birds From Classic Children’s Literature

"You could not see a cloud, because no cloud was in the sky. No birds were flying overhead, there were no birds to fly!"

As your gardens succumb to the enchanting ethereal beauty of winter; as ponds and puddles ice over and lawns glisten under the blankets of morning frost, spare a thought for our feathered friends doing their best to keep spirits high in the most challenging of seasons.

Whether it’s the red-breasted robins, merrily skipping along the hard ground, searching for a worm or a fallen berry—or the majestic owl nesting in a nearby barn, waiting for the cold snap to pass—there are plenty of birds going about their business in the great outdoors this winter. 

In today’s blog, paying homage to our mostly airborne familiars, we take a look at some of the fabulous bird varieties to be found in the Robert James Workshop collection; bronze sculptures, water features, and miniatures that will surely add a sense of magic and natural wonder to your garden spaces by the time spring rolls around again.

Fly true, friends, adventure awaits!

jemima puddle duck

From Keehar to Jemima

While a seagull isn’t always the most welcome garden guest at this time of year, or any time of year if the truth be told, Kehaar is the memorable ally of the warren rabbits in Richard Adams’ classic 1972 tale, Watership Down. After a fearsome encounter with the Nuthanger Farm cat, Hazel and the rest of the colony nurse their new feathered companion back to full health with the help of some wholesome worms! 

Meanwhile, dear Jemima Puddle-Duck, inspired by a real duck who lived at Beatrix Potter’s famous Hill Top farm, is one of the English author’s most beloved creations. Amiable yet tragically silly—Jemima is never spotted without her blue bonnet and pink shawl, particularly fitting for this time of year. If only she could find a place to lay her eggs in peace.

From the pages of history and legend

Flightless, slow and disastrously dim, the now-extinct Dodo has captured the imagination of naturalists and authors for centuries. Indeed, since its untimely demise, the Dodo has gained notoriety and a permanent place in popular culture as a curious natural relic from the ancient world. 

In the famous Wonderland series, the prehistoric bird is thought to have been a satirical portrait of Lewis Carroll himself. The legend goes that Carroll, whose real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, saw an infinity with the Dodo due to his alleged stutter, often introducing himself as Do-do-dodgson!

With the head, talons and wings of an eagle and the agile body of a lion—the sleepy mythical Gryphon is another memorable winged creation that features heavily in Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland books. We first encounter the legendary beast when he’s ordered by the Queen to introduce Alice to the Mock Turtle. While the chances of a Gryphon making a home in your garden this winter are remote, a stunning handcrafted bronze sculpture might just be the next best thing.

the sleeping gryphon

The birds from Aesop's Fables

Anthropomorphic birds play a significant role in many of Aesop’s Fables, and there are no more enduring stories than that of The Goose That Laid The Golden Eggs. A classic cautionary tale of a countryman and his wife and their foolish, short-sighted, and ultimately cruel treatment of their magical bird.

The Crow and the Pitcher is another timeless Aesop tale with an industrious bird at its heart. When chancing across a pitcher of water out in the wilderness, a parched Crow must use his ingenuity and cunning to reach the precious liquid within. With a beak too short, the Crow drops stones in the vessel to raise the water level and quench his thirst.

the crow an the pitcher

Posted on December 16th 2022

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