I first met Mike DiGiorgio 15 years ago in Connecticut. He was the first of Julie's friends to whom I was introduced. But any nervousness that I felt as Julie's new boyfriend vanished when I met Mikey. I knew he and Zick had played in a band together (called The Cuckoos) so we started off talking music, then moved on (much later) to talking about birds and art. We've been pals ever since.
Mike is a top-notch bluegrass banjo player and has played in a number of professional, gig-playing bands over the years. It's no surprise that someone with the manual dexterity to play the banjo (vastly harder than playing guitar or piano) is also a talented artist.
He is currently painting plates for a series of regional field guides to Brazil, as well as an upcoming field guide to Central America with Robert Ridgely and Guy Tudor. He's recently completed a series of 20 bird portrait paintings for future publication in a coffee-table book entitled Beautiful Birds of the Americas that will be published in Brazil. The red-crowned parrots, ivory-billed woodpecker, and resplendent quetzal below are from that project.
Mike has created numerous cover paintings for Bird Watcher's Digest, including the upcoming Jan/Feb 2007 issue, featuring a yellow-bellied sapsucker. Among the other species he's painted for BWD are: tufted titmouse (with a hidden long-eared owl), Atlantic puffins (below), great horned owl, and Blackburnian warbler.
In October 2004, Mike won the first ever Eckelberry Endowment Award from the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia in recognition of his bird illustration work. This award is given in memory of the great American bird artist Don Eckelberry.
Of all the people I've met in this world, Mike DiGiorgio stands at the front of the line as one of the nicest, most genuine, and most interesting humans on the planet. Even better, he tells great (and sometimes saucy) jokes. Plus, he JAMS on the banjo. And just LOOK at these paintings.
For more information about Mike DiGiorgio, visit his website.