Birders Show Off Their Sweet Ink At Annual Tattoo Contest

Emily Francis of Cleveland did not expect to grow fond of a bird strongly enough to end up tattooing it on her arm.

But it happened. 

“A female red-bellied woodpecker once flew into my window and I ended up saving her life,” Ms. Francis, 22, said, adding that it took her five tattoo sessions about a year ago to have the bird featured front and center on her “bird sleeve tattoo” among six other birds of the kind that used to frequent her father’s feeders.

On Thursday, she won the sixth annual Bird Tattoo Contest at the Biggest Week in American Birding, presented at Maumee Bay State Park by the Black Swamp Bird Observatory. The observatory is located at the entrance to Magee Marsh in Oak Harbor.

“I am so excited. I’ve been wanting to come here for several years, but I always had exams,” said Ms. Francis, adding that she is graduating Saturday from Cleveland State University with a bachelor’s degree in education.

She was one of seven participants who signed up — all of them female — and who came to the contest from as far as New York City.