Twelve iconic birds of Newburyport

“Wild Turkey” by 2024 Artist-in-Residence Jane Niebling

This summer, the world premiere for theremin and string quartet by composer Patrick Castillo is inspired by iconic birds of Newburyport with poetry by Alfred Nicol and paintings by Jane Niebling. There will inevitably be some controversy over the selections but I can assure you this was decided upon in a completely methodical and scientific manner (by which I mean Mellissa Day Vokey, former operations manager at Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats, and I sat down and chatted about it for five minutes). Here is the list with links so you can listen to their calls. Take a look and let me know which favorite bird I left out…

American Robin
(wake up!)

Black-capped Chickadee
(The state bird of Massachusetts. Also: ”chicka-dee-dee-dee-dee”)

American Crow
(crows are very expressive) Red-winged Blackbird
(sign of spring)

Herring Gull
(I mean, we had to have a gull)

Saltmarsh Sparrow
(not a familiar sound, but an important one,
since they are endangered due to climate change)
Red-tailed Hawk
(the screaming call that’s always dubbed in for bald eagles)

(heard in open fields, sounds like R2D2)

Bald Eagle(old Baldy)

Great Blue Heron
(gorgeous and elegant)

Wild Turkey
(not gorgeous nor elegant, but ubiquitous,
and that’s something)

Snowy Owl

CALL FOR HOUSING: we could use some assistance with housing this summer. We’re looking for hosts for some of the festival artists between July 29th and August 11th. Requirements include a private bedroom and bathroom, and air conditioning. Proximity to downtown is preferred but not required. It is an opportunity to get to know one of the artists up close and support the festival's mission. If you are interested in sponsoring an artist in your home, please contact

David Yang, Artistic Director

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