Math Bird Series

This is where birding meets math.

Raven Paradox

Raven’s were a fun one to research. I had a hard time selecting the math for these intriguing birds. From vocalizations to intelligence to barrel rolls – it was a tough pick. I ended up going with the Raven Paradox. I couldn’t resist including a leucistic feather (not all ravens are black).

Valley Quail’s Airfoil

I had the delightful experience of seeing a beautiful quail family in Santa Cruz while traveling for work. The daddy quail sat atop a bush while mommy and chicks foraged below. Finding the right curve for the top knot was a challenge – Mathstodon suggestions led me down a few paths and ended at a…

An Improbability of Crested Puffins

A collective noun for puffins is an improbability! I live in Oregon with these beautiful Tufted Puffins (also known as crested). It’s pretty probable that improbable things will happen – just look at the perfection of these little birds.

White-Breasted Nuthatch

These birds are often called “upside-down birds,” but maybe they just have no regard for orientation. I enjoyed playing with Boy’s surfaces, Möbius strips, cross-caps, and various Klein bottles for this piece (thanks math Twitter for responding to non-orientable surface requests). I decided on a figure-eight immersion of a Klein bottle.

Indigo Bunting

Indigo buntings are majestically beautiful birds. I had a hard time deciding the direction to go in doodling this one, so I dug up a lot of fun facts: A group of indigo buntings is called a sacrifice, mural, or decoration. Their indigo color comes from the structure within their feathers rather than pigment. These…

World Penguin Day

I found out that it is World Penguin Day, so I did a quick sketch – enjoy! If you are a maker and want to make a penguin game – try Hex-a-Huddle

Microcosm Oystercatchers

Here is another bird in the series – Microcosm Oystercatchers. These are one of my favorite birds. I often see them in the black basalt cobbles on the coast with their fluorescent beaks. I had a hard time with where I wanted to go with this piece initially and went back to gaskets (something I…

Pacific Lune

Another bird in the series! This one is a little luney. The lunes of Alhazen have the same area as the triangle. Note: Image was updated from the original post to fix an error

Great Horned Owl

All of the great horned owls that have sat with me for hours of my life came to mind. I really struggled with what math peice I wanted to do here. I went with lift. I used multiple images, including my own in composing this. The vortices off the back of the owl are inspired…

American Peli-cantor

These birds utterly amaze me with their gigantic wings, synchronous motion, and high-up flight. They really are a joy to watch in flight, feeding, and landings.

Evening Grosbeak

When contemplating a spirally constellation of twin primes, you may ask, “Just how many are there? – Infinite?” The Twin Prime Conjecture would say so.

Chestnut-backed Chicka-dy/dx

Another Math bird in the series! These little chickadees make the cutest noise. They have had a brood every year in the neighbors gum tree. When I see their rollercoaster flight, I think of slope fields.

Western Sand Parallelepiper

Another Math bird in the series! This one was inspired by my 17yr old discussing her math homework of deriving the volume for a parallelepiped. So of course It spawned the thought of parallelepiped sand castles.

Spiraling Vaux’s Swifts

Just like solar eclipses, Vaux’s swifts really are a life experience. Watching them funnel into a chimney in a vortex of flitting feathers is just amazing. I had the wonderful experience of watching them funnel into the chimney at dusk in Salem, Oregon (my home). So here is the next math bird in the series…

Packing Violet Green Swallows

I enjoyed watching the swallows this summer. I couldn’t help but imagine that they were packing circles in their little birdhouse portal. Life is full of such precious moments.

Western Tanager

Another math bird in the series. I associate these tanagers with oranges, summer, and warmth. This year I enjoyed seeing them in our woods as I sat on a fallen white oak in the middle of a forest.

Cardinality Cardinal

Another math bird in the series. This one I struggled with what to do and include, feel free to send any comments my way. I am still contemplating if it is really done. I miss hearing cardinal calls from when I lived in the east and watching them out on my grandpa’s farm with their…

Spotted Tau-hee

Happy Tau Day! I have created another math bird piece for today with the inspiration of Spotted Towhees on my morning walk.

Space-Pigeonholes Imagined

The Pigeonhole Principle merged with the contemplation of black holes today. I envisioned Fractal Kitty at the whiteboard with this one, but went without the kitty today – enjoy.


i-bis (white faced ibis) on the complex plane.

Probability in the Leaves

I run and see the crows daily. They splash, play, talk, and announce the sunset. I see them in yards flipping leaves together and can’t help but feel that they are calculating probabilities. Of what, I am not sure – maybe the probability of finding a nut, bug, or piece of pizza. No matter what,…


This was inspired by my backyard Gold-phi-nches (goldfinches) that cluster on my sunflowers, brighten my days, and provide hours of entertainment. As someone who has been isolated pre-covid, I am so grateful for the joy that birds bring me. I imagine the flocks propagating sunflowers far and wide to spread the Phi-lowers’ beauty everywhere. Side-note:…

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