Monday, March 2, 2009

California Quails in Connecticut?

As someone who loves birds, I naturally take notice of how images of birds are used in advertisements and other corporate communications. Sometimes the effect is stunning and effective, such as NBC’s introduction of a stylized peacock in 1956, used at first to promote its color broadcasting, and later to represent the variety of its programming. That made sense.
The other day as I was running an errand, I passed a service van for a local posh hotel/resort, the Avon Old Farms Hotel located in Avon, Connecticut. The hotel logo painted on the van caught my eye; it was an attractive, stylized illustration of a California Quail. Here’s a link to the company website, where you can see the logo at top left. Isn’t that nice?
http://www.avonoldfarmshotel.com/index.html
Lovely, I thought; a quail is a nice logo for a country hotel/resort. Nicely done drawing too, with the jaunty top-knot. Real panache. (You can search “california quail” Google images to see photos of living California Quails. Pretty, eh?)
Wait a minute — a California Quail?
Why did the hotel and its designer choose the California Quail, a bird that lives only on the West Coast, to represent an upscale hotel in the wooded hills and rolling farm fields of north central Connecticut??
Why not choose the equally lovely BobWhite Quail, the only quail native to Connecticut? It’s just as beautiful and has been a favorite with New Englanders for centuries, with its stunning coloration and inquiring “Bob - - WHITE?!” whistle. (Search "bobwhite" in Google images to see photos of this endearing bird.)
I wonder if a local graphic designer chose the California bird? It probably wouldn't matter if the designer were local or from Mars. I can picture a design team sitting around a conference table, reviewing stock photos of birds and choosing the one with nice visual appeal regardless of its relevance to a Connecticut-based business. Of course, most people don’t know a quail from a quark, and even if the designers were aware of their error, they probably assumed that most people wouldn’t know or care. However, just five minutes of online research, or a call to the Connecticut Audubon Society, library, or nature center, would have caught the error before it became formalized.
Whenever I think of this hotel now, I will think of their silliness and ignorance.
The Bob White’s numbers are declining as more farmland is eaten up by development. It would have been nice if the hotel had adopted the local bird for its logo, then contributed to conservation programs that would ensure the quail’s survival.

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