A! Magazine for the Arts

Julie Zickefoose and Jemima

Julie Zickefoose and Jemima

Talk about grace and redemption is at library

February 21, 2022

Julie Zickefoose, a nationally acclaimed naturalist, artist and writer, is the featured speaker at the Sunday with Friends event March 13, at 3 p.m. at the Washington County Public Library, Abingdon, Virginia. She presents an illustrated lecture on her new book, “Saving Jemima: Life and Love with a Hard-luck Jay.”

Zickefoose says that she thinks of herself as “an unsung, minor, rather dirty superhero.” Her superpower: “saving small, economically worthless wildlife that would otherwise die.” An orphaned blue jay named Jemima was one such foundling. Spending nearly a year healing, studying and raising the young blue jay for release opened the door to their world for Zickefoose.

She began writing and illustrating “Saving Jemima: Life and Love with a Hard-luck Jay” immediately upon becoming Jemima’s foster mother. More than a wildlife rehab story, it’s the story of life, love and dealing with great loss as well as finding grace and redemption in bonding with a wild bird.

Zickefoose lives and works on an 80-acre wildlife sanctuary in Whipple, Ohio. She is a prolific writer and painter and contributing editor to Bird Watcher’s Digest. Her books include “Natural Gardening for Birds,” “Letters from Eden, The Bluebird Effect” and “Baby Birds: An Artist Looks into the Nest.”

Born in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Zickefoose has been drawing birds since childhood. The bird artist Robert Verity Clem encouraged her to draw living birds in nature. After studying art, anthropology and biology from 1976, she obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University in 1981.

From 1981 to 1986 she worked as a field biologist for the Nature Conservancy in Connecticut, then for the American Ornithologists’ Union and the Academy of Natural Sciences, where she was part of the illustrator team for the 18-volume work “Birds of North America” from 1991 to 2002. She has also illustrated educational material for the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center.

“Sunday with Friends” is sponsored by the Friends of the Washington County Public Library in Abingdon. There will be book sales and signing as well as a reception after Zickefoose’s presentation. It is free and open to the public.