Black Oystercatchers painting chosen for 2019 Puget Sound Bird Fest poster

Sarah Crumb has been named the winner of the 2019 Puget Sound Bird Fest Poster Art Contest with her entry Black Oystercatchers. The piece was selected by a jury from among 12 entries, and will be featured on the promotional poster for the 2019 event, which will be held Sept.13-15 in Edmonds.

The Puget Sound Bird Fest Poster Art Contest is held each spring to select a piece of original art to be used for the festival’s promotional poster. Sponsored by the Edmonds Arts Festival Foundation, the winning artist is awarded a $200 prize.

Black Oystercatchers depicts two black oystercatchers, large shorebirds that can sometimes be seen on the rocky jetties in Edmonds. The painting was a jury favorite because it captured the motion and spirit of the habitat that the oystercatchers live in; life on the edge in the dynamic rocky intertidal zone. It was colorful and eye catching, and a very powerful image all around.

Crumb says that the painting was inspired by a childhood experience she had while kayaking with her dad off the west coast of San Juan Island. As they approached a small outcropping of rocks hoping to spot friendly seals, they were instead bombarded by screeching black oystercatchers. “This memory has stuck with me for years”, Sarah said, “and when I saw that the theme for the Puget Sound Bird Fest was shorebirds, I instantly knew I had to paint these funny-looking creatures…I knew I wanted a bright background, but not one that would distract from the birds. I chose a particularly interesting rock I found on the beach, one covered with algae and barnacles. It made a pretty amazing backdrop for the oystercatchers.”

Crumb was born and raised in Seattle, and holds degrees in both the arts and natural sciences. She has worked for the Burke Museum and the Seattle Art Museum, and has been a long-time art docent in the Northshore School District and an informal educator at Woodland Park Zoo. She currently teaches art at Cloud 9 Art School in Bothell, and several of her pieces are held by private collections. You can learn more at

The theme of each year’s Bird Fest is determined based on the theme of the Friday night keynote presentation. This year, renowned shorebird expert and photographer Tim Boyer will be presenting his program Understanding Shorebirds, the Miracle of Migration. Note that due to limitations in seating capacity, advanced registration is now required for the keynote presentation. Details can be found on the Puget Sound Bird Fest website at



  1. The watercolor is quite nice, but its selection for a poster representing a bird festival in Edmonds is puzzling. One would think that the purpose of the poster is two-fold: (1) a festival marketing device, and (2) an illustration of a species that can be seen locally on a regular basis. Of breeding shorebirds in Washington, the Black Oystercatcher is one of the most difficult to see in Snohomish County, including Edmonds. It is listed in Edmonds as a code 4 species. Codes reflect abundance and code 4 simply means that there have been more than five reported sightings. It is not seen here every year. I have never seen this species in Edmonds and I bird here more than any other location. The reason I don’t see it here is because it is rarely here. So why was it chosen to represent an Edmonds birding festival? A strange choice when there are so many shorebird species that can be seen here regularly, including Killdeers, Least Sandpipers, Western Sandpipers, and Sanderlings. Shorebirds that can usually be seen here at least once a year include Surfbirds, Black Turnstones, Greater Yellowlegs, Spotted Sandpipers, Pectoral Sandpipers, Baird’s Sandpipers, and Long-billed Dowitchers. Unfortunately, Black Oystercatchers don’t make the list.

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