Prehistoric Birds

June 09, 2011, 16:19 pm  Posted by needlearts

In honor of put a bird on it month, I thought I’d dig a bit into the Lark archives to see if I could find out when people, um, started putting birds on it. And maybe, just maybe, I’d find the evolutionary mama of the put-a-bird-on-it craze.

I dug through a myriad of crochet and knit books from before the turn of the century (the early to mid nineties). These early bird projects were mostly confined to representations of ducks and chicks—tho I did find one dinosaur, which, while technically the mother of all birds, is probably not the mother of all bird motifs.
ducks and chicks
the dinosaur

Continuing my excavation, I found an early fiber project, Lithuanian Songbird,  from “The Book of Wheat Weaving and Straw Craft.” Though it’s a bird itself, and not technically something with a bird on it, it may well have been an important precursor to the put a bird on it craze.  (Lark’s very own “Lucy!”) I found another rare early bird appearance on a Walker Carryall  from“Terrific Totes and Carryalls.” Perhaps the first instance of truely putting a bird on it.

walkerwalker bird
But what I consider to be the most interesting finding was a turn of the century put-a-bird-on-it population explosion. I found at least 10 T-shirts with bird motifs in just one book. Of course, it was “The Ultimate T Shirt Book,” but still… bird motifs aplenty: wrens, cardinals, flickers, parrots.  And then a crash.  A classic case for students of population dynamics.

a few examples

parrotbird t shirt

bird T

last bird t shirt

and for the scientists out there…origin of birds graph


16 Responses

    Catherine says:

    Speaking of prehistoric birds, “putting a bird on it” dates all the way back to cave paintings depicting “birdmen” with birds on sticks.  The Lascaux caves, for example, depict such, as well as other sites.

    In Australia, Arnhem Land plateau megafauna cave painting is believed to depict a species of prehistoric bird that has been extinct for 40,000 years.

    It seems our fascination with birds goes back quite a long time!

    Kathy Sheldon says:

    Megan, you are hilarious. Great post. 

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