Winter Birds

A solitary half-dead dogwood and a tangled hedgerow of vines and shrubs is all the landscaping that came with our house when we bought it last September. It’s not much, as they say, but it’s home. And, it turns out, it’s home to a surprising variety of birds as well. They are attracted mainly to the bird feeders we hung from the dogwood, though the shelter of the hedgerow and a neighboring elm provide good cover, too. For the price of sunflower seed and suet cakes, I’m enjoying the show from my kitchen window.

click to view larger

click to view larger

Though my backyard count is just an informal tally, it has been a longstanding tradition to count birds at Christmas time. The nascent Audubon Society began a winter bird census in 1900. Today, Audubon and other organizations use data collected in this long-running census to assess the status of bird populations, and to help guide conservation action. Find out more: www.audubon.org/join-christmas-bird-count

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18 thoughts on “Winter Birds

  1. Love everything about this spread! Thank you for sharing about the Christmas Bird count tradition. I didn’t know about that, but it sounds interesting and fun!

    • Thanks Pam– Hope you enjoy painting them as much as I did. I like the simplicity of the color scheme for them– I use mainly ultramarine and burnt sienna, which makes that lovely gray and black, and a lot of variation in between.

  2. Ah, this page makes my heart melt. I LOVE birds. I especially miss the titmouse and little wren that I enjoyed while I was staying in my parents’ home on Eagle Lake, on the Texas Gulf Coast, following their deaths in 1998 and 2000. Now, I live in West Texas, and the variety of songbirds in our yard is not as varied. I never see a titmouse or a wren…none of the birds in your watercolor. I love the interesting poses you captured and your use of a green wash for the background. I will try to remember your use of the wash rather than trying to put leaves in the background. Please tell me what pen or pen tip you use for your calligraphy lettering. Your lettering style is lovely.

    • Hi Liz- Thanks for your nice note. I do like to minimize detail in the background to keep the focus on the birds. I use Micron black pens, size 02 and 005 for drawing and text. I usually build up handwritten letters to create that calligraphic effect. I sometimes use calligraphy nibs, but I like the imperfect quality of the hand-drawn letters over calligraphy for my journal.

  3. Absolutely gorgeous, Jean. Thank you! I, too, LOVE birds. Finances have been tight this winter so I wasn’t buying any birdseed. But lo and behold, my son bought two huge bags of seed for me as one of my Christmas presents! Now I have birds…Simple pleasures…..

    • That flicker was good to pose for me! I especially liked your recent posts of carrots and gourd. I think they show a lot of improvement. Hope you are pleased with them! Happy New Year!

  4. Lovely watercolor painting of your backyard friends. Similar birds in our area: The nuthatch and flicker; I am unable to identify the small sweet white/gray bird on the branch. The gray/black/white bird heading down the trunk looks similar to a nuthatch? Enjoy your days observing and painting the birds around your yard. Thanks for sharing,

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