Meet the Artist: Becca Hallstedt

When creating merchandise for a scientific organization, it is sometimes challenging to mesh accuracy and artistic creativity together. We want to create pieces for you that showcase raptors respectfully as well as capture their beauty. We think that Becca Hallstedt has done just that with our latest collaboration.

From the first draft we received of Becca’s work, you could tell that they have spent some serious time watching birds. From the postures to the personality of the species shining through, Becca excels at capturing the nature of birds. In our latest t-shirt, Becca chose to feature the Short-eared Owl—an understudied and mysterious owl near and dear to our hearts. Last spring, we lost our Short-eared Owl Raptor Ambassador, Galileo, and through this piece, we celebrate his life and contribution to conservation. Click here to grab your Shortie tee:

What is your “spark bird,” aka the species that sparked your interest in birds?

I saw an Eastern Towhee displaying bilateral scratching on a pile of leaves a few months after being diagnosed with early-onset arthritis in my spine and a slipped disc in my mid-20s. At the time, I was looking for a new way to get outdoors while working through the grief associated with having a permanent injury. Seeing the Towhee was the first time that I ever really stopped in my tracks to watch a bird, and doing so opened up a whole new world for me.

What inspires your work?

I grew up in the Midwest, romping around in the woods and spending most of our time outside. I am so lucky to live in Chicago—a unique city full of parks and forest preserves with stewarded natural areas where I can continue that tradition. I usually go out with a camera, so I reference my own photography almost exclusively for my bird art, just like I did with these Short-eared Owls!

What do you do outside of your art?

I am a community organizer, Cook County Master Naturalist, gardener, and life-long hobby addict. I get the most fulfillment in life by trying new things as much as possible, and birding is so great at teaching us to be more aware and appreciative of what’s around us. Nothing makes me happier than just being outdoors, especially with my favorite people.

Where can people find and support you?

Follow me at or check out my shop at!

This blog was written by Sammy Riccio, HWI’s Communications ManagerYou can learn more about Sammy here.

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