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Feather Bird Pictures

Updated on July 17, 2019
Virginia Allain profile image

Collecting has been a lifelong passion for Virginia and her collections range from ephemera to tins and Hall china.

Part of my mother's collection.
Part of my mother's collection. | Source

Mexican Folk Art - Feather Bird Pictures

Why do we collect feather bird pictures? We are a family of collectors. Somehow just having one of something doesn't feel right to us. We aren't happy until we have another item to keep it company, then another and before we even know what is happening, we have a collection.

In the case of the Mexican feather birds, it all started back in the 1940s. My grandparents took a trip to Mexico and returned with a souvenir of two feather bird pictures. My grandfather framed them in Kansas cedar frames and hung them on the wall. When my grandparents died, the pair of feather bird pictures came to my mother.

She hung them on the wall and people admired them. She found a few more at yard sales and made a grouping on the wall. Soon everyone in the family was keeping an eye out for Mexican feather bird pictures. They made great birthday and Christmas gifts for our mother. As you can see from the photo further down on the page, her collection expanded to fill a whole wall in the dining room.

Postcard Sized Feather Bird Picture


Basics of Feather Bird Pictures

The pictures come from Mexico where they are handmade. The feathers are glued onto the background to form a bird figure.

Painted brushstrokes add details like a branch and leaves around the bird. Paint is also used to add the bird's legs, feet, and beak.

On the back of some pictures is a printed history of the craft.

"Even before the Spaniards conquered Mexico in 1521, feather craft was already an ancient art. The Tarascan Indians of Michoacan made hummingbird capes for their kings.” To this day, their old capital city is named Tzintzuntzan or the hummingbird.
Birds are prominent in Aztec mythology and Mexican history. An eagle perched on a cactus, devouring a snake- the motive of the present official Mexican seal - was the fulfillment of the Aztec prophecy for the establishment of their capital on the present site of Mexico City."

Feathers Featured in a Traditional Aztec Dance - Watch this video to see the dance.

Gail Martin with her Mexican feather bird pictures

Gail Martin with her Mexican feather bird pictures
Gail Martin with her Mexican feather bird pictures

What Inspires Feather Bird Pictures?

One wonders if the birds in Mexico are as colorful as the artist's work? Take a look at this selection of birds of Mexico and you will see that they are quite showy.

This Video Shows Some of the Inspiration for the Colorful Feather Art

Learn More about Mexican Feather Work

  • Wikipedia has an article on Mexican featherwork which shows it being used in headdresses, costumes, on wood panels, and in religious art.
  • My mother's story about her collection: Birds of a Feather Flock Together

    by Gail Lee Martin. Gail tells about her feather bird pictures and why she collects them.

    How to Set the Price and to Sell a Collection of Feather Bird Pictures

More of My Mother's Collection - Photos from the Martin Family Album

Unusual feather bird picture showing fighting cocks.
Unusual feather bird picture showing fighting cocks.

Caution: Insects Can Attack the Pictures

Check now and then to be sure that tiny insects don't get inside the picture frame. This is more likely to happen if the pictures are stored in boxes or in a closet.

Note the Carved Frame - on This Feather Bird Picture


The Hand-Carved Frames

The frames can be quite ornate with carved designs. The designs were also sold without frames. My grandfather made the frames for the two pictures that started my mother's collection.

The Back of the Picture


What is your feather bird picture worth? Check the eBay auctions to see the going price for these. Size and condition and the frame are all factors in setting the price.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2010 Virginia Allain

What Do You Collect?

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    • Virginia Allain profile imageAUTHOR

      Virginia Allain 

      6 years ago from Central Florida

      @MiaMusement: It's best to display them. My mom stored hers for awhile in a closet and a couple of the feather bird pictures were ruined by tiny insects.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I have some of these that I picked up on ebay for a price I couldn't refuse. I always wondered about their origin, and now I know. Thank you!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      To Whom it may concern. I have a piece of art. It is a piece of canvas, 900mm x600mm, On it there is a picture of a white tiger, in the jungle. It is all made of birds feathers. It is framed and behind glass. I have tried a few art dealers but nobody has seen anything like it. I got it from Bali, Indonisia. It was given to me bye a man I have befriended while visiting Bali. Can anybody establish and estimated price. I was offered 2500 english pounds about 6 years ago, but i lost comunication with the person.

    • Virginia Allain profile imageAUTHOR

      Virginia Allain 

      7 years ago from Central Florida

      @anonymous: Sherry - look at the ones that are for sale on eBay, trying to find ones that look similar to yours. Watch the auction to see what the final sale price is, so you'll have an idea. Places online where you can sell vintage, unique items include eBay, Yardsellr, and Etsy.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      i have 2 pictures of birds made with feathers in them, they look like they are old and has the paper on one of them in the back, with real wood frames , and this is my ?. how can i see how much i can get for them

    • ellagis profile image


      8 years ago

      I collect everything that comes from animals! Well, I know that it sounds a little strange, so let me explain. I collect feathers, first of all, but also - if I find them while walking along a natural path - skulls and bones of small animals. I like them as naturalist, and it was very useful to have them for my job of environmental educator. Children loved that stuff!!!!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Just spotted a feather picture of Hummingbird hovering over flowers, a genuine Victorian one, so have snapped it up. Never seen such before, only want the one as it seems to mean more just being on its own.

    • LizMac60 profile image

      Liz Mackay 

      8 years ago from United Kingdom

      I try not to collect. but these feather pictures might tempt me.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Feather pictures are such a lovely art form, one bird picture just wouldn't be enough ~ a flock of the is needed! I had a horse and a beaded bag collection years ago that i had to sell to put food on the table.

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 

      8 years ago from USA

      What a beautiful thing to collect! I collect vintage postcards, and picture discs, and cute salt and pepper shakers, and... :)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Such a lovely and light type of art!

    • piedromolinero profile image


      8 years ago

      Really beautiful, I haven't seen such pictures before.

    • LizMac60 profile image

      Liz Mackay 

      8 years ago from United Kingdom

      Fascinating and beautiful.

    • delia-delia profile image


      9 years ago

      great subject and lens...5*.. I have some old feather art, even one of a horse...enjoyed this lens, thanks for sharing!

    • justholidays profile image


      9 years ago

      Hi :)

      Like this lens and it's subject. I love arts... and would definitely like to see more feather bird pictures:)

      But in summary, I like it.



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