I t is a great honor to present Christina Baal’s The Universal Language of Birds at the Ucross Foundation Art Gallery. When I first met the artist and learned that she plans to paint or draw all 10,000 bird species on our planet, I marveled at her energy and ambition. Baal’s art reflects that same drive. All of us at Ucross look forward to following this young artist’s work as it progresses over the years. It is fitting to exhibit Baal’s paintings in our gallery at the heart of the 20,000-acre Ucross Ranch, now designated an Important Bird Area by Audubon. Artists, writers and composers come from far and wide for residency time at Ucross – and as it turns out, so does our bird community. The Swainson’s Hawks and Wilson’s Phalaropes travel from Argentina, the Sandhill Cranes spend their winters in New Mexico, and the Eastern Kingbirds winter in the Amazon. All of us thrive in the beauty of the surrounding landscape – its meadows, creeks, flowers, shrubs and trees. The healthy ecosystem of Ucross is a haven for the human creative spirit and for its wildlife popula- tion, too. Through her work, Baal has discovered that birds are a form of “universal language.” She notes, “No matter where I go, when people see me with my binoculars they want to talk to me about birds they’ve seen, or hear about my adventures.” We are grateful to Dr. Jackie Canterbury, President of Bighorn Audubon, for collaborating with us on exhibition plans, and for her guidance and efforts on behalf of the birds at Ucross, throughout Wyoming and beyond. Thanks also to Alison Holloran of Audubon Rockies for facilitating the IBA designation. We extend our gratitude to Susan Fox Rogers for writing the exhibition essay, to BNSF Railways Foundation and the Wyoming Arts Council for their support, and to our Board of Trustees for their continued dedication to Ucross. Finally, we thank the many artists who have con- tributed additional works to join with Christina Baal’s art. This is a true community celebration. Sharon Dynak President, Ucross Foundation 3