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  Bird-Flower/Fruit Associations Blog  

In Japanese art a bird is sometimes paired with a particular type of flower or fruit. The basis for this bird-flower/fruit association is either the bird's habitat preference or its food preference or its symbolic meaning. An example of each of these three types of bird-flower/fruit associations is presented below.

Habitat Preference

The preferred habitat of the white-fronted goose (Anser albifrons) is shoreline where common reed (Phragmites australis) is a dominant plant. Consequently, pictures of this bird typically include flowering stems of common reed as well. An example of this bird-flower pairing, chosen from the Reader Collection of Japanese Flower-and-Bird Art, is shown below.

  Habitat Preference eaxample  

Food Preference

Berries are the preferred food of the brown-eared bulbul (Ixos amaurotis). During winter months the red berries of heavenly-bamboo (Nandina domestica) are an important food source for this bulbul and it appears most often in Japanese art feeding on these fruits. One example is shown below.

  Food Preference example  

Symbolic Meaning

The Japanese bush-warbler (Cettia diphone) is symbolically associated with spring in Japan because that is when its distinctive song is first heard each year. To listen to its song, recorded by Pamela C. Rasmussen, click here.
Another symbol of spring in Japan is the opening of flowers on plum trees (Prunus mume). Because of their shared symbolic association with spring, plum flowers and the bush-warbler often appear together in Japanese art. However, in the real world, the Japanese bush-warbler would rarely be seen singing in the company of plum flowers, as in the picture below, because it prefers dense undergrowth. Consequently, it is more often heard than seen.

  Symbolic Meaning example  

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