Posted on: October 29, 2019 at 10:39 pm
Last updated: October 29, 2019 at 10:54 pm

If you were to sit outside on a clear day, you would undoubtedly see numerous birds flying about – some individually and some in flocks. To the untrained eye, it may seem as though the flight patterns of these birds is random and without meaning, but a closer look reveals that birds flying overhead are actually tracing exquisite lines through the sky.


For Xavi Bou, a geologist and photographer based in Barcelona, Spain [1], watching birds flitting about in the sky sparked in him a lifelong interest in birds.

Seeing the way the birds flew through the sky made him wonder: what would it look like if birds left behind trails in the sky as they flew? With this question in mind, Xavi embarked on a new project called Ornitographies [2]. Ornitographies would reveal to the world the patterns that birds draw in the sky.


“My intention is to capture the beauty of the bird’s flight in a single moment, making the invisible visible,” Xavi writes on his website. “Ornitographies moves away from the purely scientific practice of Chronophotography that 19th-century photographers Eadward Muybridge and Étienne Julies Marey developed.”

“It is the balance between art and science, a project of naturalist discovery, and, at the same time, an exercise of visual poetry.”

In Ornitographies, Xavi sought to capture the invisible movements of birds and the shapes they create when flying. These images miss no detail, picking up even the tracks left behind by the flapping of the birds’ wings. The shapes birds create are sometimes nearly straight lines, other times swirling, tornado-like funnels.

“Ornitographies is a balance between art and science; a nature-based dissemination project and a visual poetry exercise above all,” Xavi writes on his website. “An invitation to perceive the world with the same curious and innocent look of the child we once were.”


Xavi’s work appeared in the January 2018 issue of National Geographic magazine [3].

Thomas Nelson
Environmental Advocate
Thomas is an environmental advocate currently residing in the Pacific Northwest. In his spare time, he enjoys experiencing the outdoors, raising chickens and ducks, and reading about current environmental issues. Despite slight colorblindness, his favorite color is green.

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