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JTMB
01-26-2016, 03:03 PM
Hi folks,

I haven't been on the site (or done hardly any art) for a couple years due mostly to a couple surgeries - the first one being rotator cuff repair on my dominant arm, which really prevented art during the long rehab/recovery process. But I'm back at sketching and hoping to do some plein air landscape painting as the weather warms up.

This year I'm planning on sketching each bird species I see during the course of the year. We did an annual bird count on January 1st for a local Audubon society, which started my 'year list' for species. We saw 43 species that day, so I haven't caught up with all them yet. The total is up to 68 species now, but of course the addition of new species slows down dramatically as the year goes on - by year's end I should have around 150 species or so, depending on how dedicated I am to get out and 'chase' birds.

The journal I'm starting with is a Stillman & Birn Alpha Series 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches. Because I have such a backlog of species already, I'm doing pretty quick sketches now starting with pencil, adding ink sometimes, then coloring with Pitt brush pens. A couple of the images here are done with Copic markers, then cut and pasted into the S&B journal since the Copics show through to the other side of the paper in the journal.

I won't post all the sketches (some are pretty bad being out of practice...!) until I get current with new species. I will do some watercolor and gouache when things slow down because the Pitt pens, which I really love, don't have a wide enough color selection to accurately show the bird's plumage so some of the odd coloration you see here is just based on available choices.

So here are a few of the first 38 that I've sketched so far.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/26-Jan-2016/165640-2510-SX50-AMRO_Sketch_from_GT_Photo_-_Jan,_16.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/26-Jan-2016/165640-2521-OCWA_Sketch_from_GT_Ref_-_Jan,_16.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/26-Jan-2016/165640-2524-SX50-American_Tree_Sparrow_Sketch_-_Web_ref_photo_-_Jan,_16.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/26-Jan-2016/165640-2516-SX50-Canada_Geese_Sketch_from_Web_ref_-_Jan,_16.jpg

It's great to see a lot of folks I remember from when I was last active! I'm looking forward to going through your journals to see what you all are doing.

C&C welcome as always.

DrDebby
01-26-2016, 03:10 PM
John, so good to have you and your birds back here again! :) Lovely sketches. You'll get your mojo back in no time. Glad you are recovered from the surgery.

KiwiKate
01-26-2016, 07:52 PM
Lovely sketches; I look forward to more. Glad you're back in the saddle again!

Blooming
01-26-2016, 08:05 PM
These sketches are so cheerful!

BeeG
01-27-2016, 07:36 AM
Hi again, John,

I hadn't looked at these yet when I wrote back in my Bird-a-Day post. I like these, and they ARE looser than your regular work! The robin and orange-crowned are especially nice.

Have you played with Stabilo 88s? I found them a great way to mediate between watercolors and pencil, and sometimes when pens are just too stark/rigid, they fit the bill (bad unintentional pun). Because they are watersoluble, you can ease edges and soften lines.

I've moved away from Pitts except when I travel. At home I prefer fountain pens with their lovely nibs and greater ink color choices.

Please keep sharing these. I want to see how these affect your overall style over time. Should be interesting!

Nick7
01-27-2016, 08:31 AM
Beautiful! I hope you are going to post often :)

Get well soon.

JTMB
01-27-2016, 07:58 PM
Thanks for the comments Debby, Kate, Blooming, BeeG and Nick!

Following are two more sketches. The first, in the Stillman and Birn sketchbook is a Bewick's Wren - from a Tringa.com reference photo. Pencil sketch, then watercolor and a few Pigma Micron sepia pen marks.

The other sketch - a White-throated Sparrow (fairly rare bird in our area) from a reference photo by Dave Slaughter in the Pen & Ink January challenge. This was done in a 12 x 9 inch Copic sketchbook - pencil sketch, inked with Pigma Micron sepia in a few areas, and then finished with Copic markers. This sketch was done for a talk on bird art I'm giving at our local art club meeting in February.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/27-Jan-2016/165640-2529-SX50-BEWR_ref_photo_from_Tringa_-_Jan,_2016.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/27-Jan-2016/165640-2508-SX50-WTSP_from_WC_-_Dave_Slaughter_Photo_-_Jan,_2016.jpg

vhere
01-28-2016, 07:07 AM
Some lovely ones there. Glad to see you back :)

DrDebby
01-28-2016, 03:57 PM
Sweet birds. Love their lively poses.

Joan T
01-28-2016, 10:04 PM
Great to see you back!! Nice sketches of these birds!

Blooming
01-29-2016, 08:03 AM
Aren't markers fun? Sweet birds! Makes me anxious for spring!

hobbyartist87
01-29-2016, 06:00 PM
John, these are good bird sketches. Good job on these, getting them to be so accurate.

JTMB
02-07-2016, 03:15 PM
Thanks Vivien, Debby, Joan and Sandra!

Blooming - yes I'm enjoying the markers, which I haven't used much before except for a selection of grays for doing notans. I love the Copics. They do tend to produce graphic or illustration type sketches, which of course is logical since that's what they're designed for. I'm definitely going to keep doing various subjects with them.

Here is the next batch of birds. In order to catch up to my species-seen list for the year, these were done quite quickly and that didn't result in great sketches in some of the occasions. But since it is a sketchbook and all the instruction books say that a sketch ain't supposed to be a finished product, here is everything since the last post - the good, the bad and the ugly.

My favorites in this batch are the White-crowned Sparrow and the Bushtit. The others are, well...recognizable at least. :lol:

White-crowned Sparrow

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/07-Feb-2016/165640-2538-SX50-WCSP_for_WC_-_Feb,_2016.jpg

Killdeer

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/07-Feb-2016/165640-2541-SX-Killdeer_for_WC_-_Feb,_2016.jpg

Pileated Woodpecker

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/07-Feb-2016/165640-2543-SX50-PIWO_for_WC_-_Feb,_2016.jpg

Bushtit

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/07-Feb-2016/165640-2545-SX50-Bushtit_for_WC_-_Feb,_2016.jpg

Glaucous-winged Gull

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/07-Feb-2016/165640-2547-SX50-GWGU_for_WC_-_Feb,_2016.jpg

Red-winged Blackbird

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/07-Feb-2016/165640-2548-SX50-RWBL_for_WC_-_Feb,_2016.jpg

Bufflehead - The purple and green on this (male) bird's head is actually iridescent in the sunlight. Under dim light condition, it just looks black.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/07-Feb-2016/165640-2551-SZ50-Bufflehead_for_WC_-_Feb,_2016.jpg

DrDebby
02-07-2016, 03:29 PM
Great group of birds. Love the little bushtit.

hobbyartist87
02-08-2016, 12:00 AM
John, these are really good bird sketches. I can tell you've had a lot of time to observe them and sketch them as you've gotten the details and the shapes right. Keep going with these.

JTMB
02-08-2016, 02:11 AM
Thanks Debby and Sandra! I have a master birder certification through Audubon and do survey work and lead field trips, so I know the (US) species generally quite well. Drawing them accurately is, of course, another challenge entirely...! :)

Joan T
02-08-2016, 10:00 PM
Impressive bird sketches, John!

laudesan
02-09-2016, 01:30 AM
Great to see you back John!

Your birds are gorgeous..

Vivien Maloney
02-25-2016, 08:46 PM
Hi John :wave: Great to see you back here again. I've had a big break from Journaling too, but looking forward to getting into it again.
Love your bird sketches. :clap:

JTMB
02-26-2016, 12:22 AM
Thanks Joan, JJ and Vivien!

Here is the next batch - these are waterfowl or waders since they were all seen on a visit to a complex of ponds that is one of my favorite birding areas near my house. All were started as pencil sketches, then finished either with watercolor or watercolor pencils with a watercolor brush.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/26-Feb-2016/165640-2555-SX50-American_Wigeon_Flying_-_WC_Sketch_-_Feb,_2016.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/26-Feb-2016/165640-2558-SX50-Gadwall_for_WC_-_Feb,_2016.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/26-Feb-2016/165640-2561-SX50-Lesser_Scaup_for_WC_-_Feb,_2016.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/26-Feb-2016/165640-2563-SX50-Common_Goldeneye_for_WC_-_Feb,_2016.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/26-Feb-2016/165640-2564-SX50-Virginia_Rail_for_WC_-_Feb,_2016.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/26-Feb-2016/165640-2567-SX50-Northern_Pintail_for_WC_-_Feb,_2016.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/26-Feb-2016/165640-2569-SX50-American_Coot_for_WC_-_Feb,_2016.jpg

Gloppus
02-26-2016, 12:37 AM
Hi John,

Wonderful paintings. I think I have seen all these birds except the Virginia Rail. We kept hearing one once on Bainbridge Island, but after traipsing about the marshes for what seemed like hours, we couldn't even get a glimpse.

I'll keep trying. Please keep painting.

vhere
02-26-2016, 03:40 AM
lovely loose marks in the pintail

DrDebby
02-26-2016, 03:38 PM
Delightful collection of water birds.

JTMB
02-26-2016, 06:21 PM
Thanks Debby, Vivien and Philip!

Philip - Virginia Rails are notoriously difficult to get good looks at, or to see at all even for a brief glimpse. They generally stay buried in reeds or cattails and wade around in that edge vegetation by bodies of water. So it's a special occasion every time I get the rare look at one. 95% of the time, my ID's are made by hearing their vocalizations. One interesting aspect of that species is that the youngsters start out as black fluff balls. To me, they look like fuzzy charcoal briquettes! I've seen the young maybe three or four times in the last ten years, even though Virginia Rails are a common species in the right type of habitat. Go online and search on the species and find vocalizations. The most common one is a loud, metallic GID-ICK, GID-ICK, GID-ICK repeated numerous times. One method of finding them when you are in likely habitat is to clap your hands loudly four or five times in quick succession which for some reason will often trigger a vocal response.

JTMB
03-01-2016, 07:55 PM
Here is the next batch. These were all done quickly with watercolor pencils and a water brush. The Northern Shoveler and Green-winged Teal have poorly-sketched bills. The Shoveler in fact has an extra big bill, but in the sketch here it's too thick relative to the length. Then the Green-winged Teal's bill has some of the same issue and my hand wasn't very steady when I did it. Better sketches next time...! :crossfingers:

The Hooded Merganser I saw was actually a female, but I painted a male here, with his crest fanned out in a breeding display.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/01-Mar-2016/165640-2571-SX50-Hooded_Merganser_for_WC_-_Mar,_2016.jpg

Yellow-rumped Warblers are probably our most common warbler species, and some hang around over the winter. There has been a group of them flycatching from the shoreline vegetation of a couple of settling ponds near our house.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/01-Mar-2016/165640-2573-SX50-Yellow-rumped_Warbler_for_WC_-_Mar,_2016.jpg

The Northern Shoveler species has a big bill due to their unique feeding habits. They use their large bills to filter small plant and animal matter out of the water and subsist on that. They will feed in small groups and stir up the water then circle around sifting food material out of the water. This is a drake (male) - the females are much more drab but do share the same large bill.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/01-Mar-2016/165640-2577-SX50-Northern_Shoveler_for_Wet_Canvas_-_Mar,_2016.jpg

Green-winged Teal are small and very fast flying ducks, some of which winter over in our area, though most migrate further south.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/01-Mar-2016/165640-2578-SX50-Green-winged_Teal_for_WC_-_Mar,_2016.jpg

Western Meadowlark - This species is relatively uncommon on the west side of the Cascades in Washington state. We found several of them at Nisqually NWR, near our house, courtesy of several other birders who had seen them and told us where they were. They have a beautiful song.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/01-Mar-2016/165640-2580-SX50-Western_Meadowlark_for_WC_-_Mar,_2016.jpg

Cackling Goose - This one is out of order from the year list of birds; I missed it when uploading initially. These birds, with multiple sub-species, are smaller versions of Canada Geese. They used to be a subspecies of Canada Goose, but were made their own species. The name comes from their flight calls, which sound significantly different from the larger Canada Goose.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/01-Mar-2016/165640-2574-SX50-Cackling_Goose_for_WC_-_Mar,_2016.jpg

DrDebby
03-02-2016, 04:39 PM
Wonderful bird sketches. I imagine bills are hard to get right. Having avoided drawing birds, I don't have actual experience. :clear:

Deborah Susan Hill
03-02-2016, 05:41 PM
I like your sketches! Your bird info is great as well.
how nice to be located in an area that has a wide variety of water fowl! Keep up the good work. When I first started painting again after a long hiatus working and raising a family, the subject of choice for me was birds. I painted a bird a day to get my chops up in terms of the skills I had mislaid since I graduated from art school back in the '80s. After I became totally disabled I decided that I should take up painting again because I was driving my husband nuts hanging around while he was telecommuting in the living room.
so I took over a room and set up a computer, desk and workstation area and got out the paints and brushes and went to work. I painted small at first, using
strathmore 140lb 300gsm 5x7 inch watercolor cards for my daily bird paintings. Eventually I branched out and started working a bit larger doing 9x12 and 12x14 paintings. I sold off a bunch of them and gave some to friends and relatives as gifts. it took me awhile to get back up to speed as I was pretty rusty at first. But now I am trying to do at least a sketch a day while working some larger pieces . In addition I do work for the monthly feathers fur and scales wildlife challenges, and have a great deal of fun with them. Here's an African King Vulture that I painted in June of last year. He's 11x14 on Arches 140lb cold pressed paper. painted with Winsor Newton and Daniel Smith Watercolor paint. :cat:

JTMB
03-02-2016, 07:18 PM
Wonderful painting, Deborah! I love how you handled the bright backlighting from the right. Gives a very realistic feel for an African species taking cover from a hot sun. I need to get back to doing some more serious bird pieces as well. Here are a couple of my bird paintings that were done as a final product rather than a sketch.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/02-Mar-2016/165640-2025-S70-HAWOinNestHole-Nov11,10-WS.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/02-Mar-2016/165640-103-0477-PAN-WFIbisFromKlamath-Jan11,11-WS.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/02-Mar-2016/165640-102-0173-PAN-RWBLFromPhotoCP-Jun,10-WS.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/02-Mar-2016/165640-2033-G15-NorthernPygmy-Owl-10-20-40-MapleValley-May,14.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/02-Mar-2016/165640-101-0449-PAN-AmericanKestrelFromPhoto-Jan,10-WS_copy.jpg

Deborah Susan Hill
03-02-2016, 09:15 PM
I think the White throated sparrow and the bushtit are the best of the sketches! they are top drawer as far as I can see. Your more serious, finished pieces are excellent! You really know your birds! Great work!

BeeG
03-03-2016, 08:07 AM
John, the woodpecker finished piece is lovely. I do like your painted work (and studies) a lot...it seems clear that the colored pencils are not as 'native' for you as the paints.

Perhaps we need to establish a separate sub-category for those of us who paint birds. We are clearly a secret cult!

JTMB
03-03-2016, 03:07 PM
Thanks Deborah and BeeG!

BeeG - you are correct. I'm primarily using colored pencils now for convenience and speed in getting 'caught up' with my bird sketches for the year. The number of species seen of course is much higher early in the year when starting with a blank slate and then slows down as the year progresses. In 2012, a year where I did a fair amount of 'chasing' of uncommon species, I had over 250 species seen. I doubt this year will be that high because of my schedule, but as of this morning I have 76 species and my last completed sketch was #60, so I'm getting closer to catching up but still have 16 to go to get current with my sightings. I don't want to take too much time only on the birds and forgo other sketches and paintings, thus the 'easy way out' with the pencils. It takes longer to get set up with watercolor where I like to work in the house but it does give better results, as I have a lot more experience with it. Color mixing is better with watercolors since with colored pencils I tend to just pick the closest color and go with it rather than try to mix, which saves time but doesn't give the best results. Also with the sketches so far this year, I haven't been doing a lot of modeling for a 3D feel - mostly just doing a quick and dirty illustration approach.

KiwiKate
03-03-2016, 03:23 PM
Love them all! Both flying geese sketches are particularly appealing, perhaps because you captured their movement so well.

DrDebby
03-03-2016, 07:25 PM
Wonderful paintings.

BeeG
03-04-2016, 07:00 AM
Oh you listers! You are a crazy man -- combining listing and painting. I'll stick to my relaxed approach!

Which pencils are you using? I like Derwent Inktense and Graphitint well as their regular watercolor pencils.

JTMB
03-09-2016, 12:04 PM
Thanks Kate, Debby and BeeG!

BeeG - Here I've used Faber Castell Durer watercolor pencils, plus some Sigma white pen for eye highlights and Pigma Micron for some inking and regular woodless graphite for the initial sketches. And yes, listers are a bit 'out there' sometimes. I'm not quite on the lunatic fringe, but I do like to keep a few county, yard and neighborhood lists. So I clearly qualify as a bird nerd, but not quite a maniacal birder, like a couple folks up here I know who make every year a state 'big year' or spend a month in Peru to add 200 new species to their life list. :)

JTMB
03-27-2016, 01:27 AM
Well, here are the next ten species I've sketched for this year's birds. These are all pencil sketches followed by watercolor and in a few cases with some added ink.

Ring-necked Duck

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/27-Mar-2016/165640-2632-SX50-Ring-necked_Duck_Sketch.jpg

Double-crested Cormorant
This species is a fish eating species and was used in the traditional Japanese fishing method where a leashed bird had a ring around its neck that precluded it from swallowing a fish above a certain size. The fisherman would then retrieve the bird and the fish it was trying to swallow and the whole cycle repeated itself again.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/27-Mar-2016/165640-2633-SX-50-DCCO_Sketch.jpg

Belted Kingfisher
One of my favorite species. This is a female, which has the rusty belly band. Males do not have the belly band.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/27-Mar-2016/165640-2636-SX50-BEKI_Sketch.jpg

Peregrine Falcon
Holder of the fastest speed of any animal on the planet. When in a dive (or 'stoop' in falconer terms) the Peregrine has been clocked at over 200 miles per hour. They actually put themselves in the optimal aerodynamic position so they maximize their speed. Amazing birds!

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/27-Mar-2016/165640-2638-SX50-PEFA_Sketch.jpg

Common Merganser
Another fish-eating species - the long, thin bill with serrated edges to hold slippery fish is a giveaway.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/27-Mar-2016/165640-2640-SX50-Common_Merganser_Sketch.jpg

Great Horned Owl
Every year for the last several, a pair of Great Horned Owls have successfully nested at a nearby national wildlife refuge. This year, unfortunately, the nesting attempt(s) failed. The female was observed sitting on the nest for about three months, way over the normal egg incubation period. Presumably there were eggs (probably a second clutch when the first one failed) but they were non-viable. Could be weather, age of the female or some other issue. Everyone eager to see the owlets appears to be out of luck this year.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/27-Mar-2016/165640-2642-SX50-Great_Horned_Owl_Sketch.jpg

Pacific Wren
This feisty little bird is found in our northwest woods, and when singing he just goes on and on and on - in a very loud voice for such a tiny bundle of feathers.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/27-Mar-2016/165640-2644-SX50-Pacific_Wren_Sketch.jpg

Hutton's Vireo
This bird is very similar to another small bird called a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. To a beginner, they're indistinguishable. A beefier bill, and the lack of a dark/blackish wing bar on the Hutton's Vireo differentiate the two species. This one is harder to find than the Kinglets so I was happy to have one fly into our back yard recirculating little stream to take a bath!

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/27-Mar-2016/165640-2646-SX50-Huttons_Vireo_Sketch.jpg


Townsend's Warbler
This is one warbler species that sometimes stays in our area over the winter. In one of my favorite local birding patches, I found a beautifully colored male.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/27-Mar-2016/165640-2648-SX50-Townsends_Warbler_Sketch.jpg

Ring-billed Gull
One of our more common gull species. This is a breeding plumage adult. Gulls are tough to ID because they take 3 to 4 years to reach adult plumage and each year's plumage is different from the others. Then on top of that, there is a difference between winter and summer plumage in many species.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/27-Mar-2016/165640-2650-SX50-RBGU_Sketch.jpg

DrDebby
03-27-2016, 05:32 PM
Wonderful collection of bird sketches.

Deborah Susan Hill
03-27-2016, 06:27 PM
Great work John. A week ago we had a trio of common Mergansers on the horseshoe lake just down the hill from my place. While common mergansers may be common some places they certainly aren't by me. Neither are the flock of white pelicans we photographed on the ponds adjacent to the river a couple of years back. We also saw a snowy egret and a great blue heron as well the usual little mud hens that dive for minnows on the lake most of the spring, summer and fall. The owls had been making a lot of racket in the woods a few weeks ago, I suspect that they have youngsters by now. My sister who lives down in the everglades has been posting video of two Owlettes and their parent birds who hatched out in an osprey nest that was built in a dangerous place on the cross bars of an electric substation.. I worry about those youngsters when they start to fledge. I hope they can avoid getting electrocuted..

Deborah Susan Hill
03-27-2016, 06:29 PM
Here's another one of the Pelicans that were fishing in the pond last year.

Joan T
03-27-2016, 08:38 PM
Super job on these birds!!! I don't find birds easy to do, but you definitely have a knack with them.

hobbyartist87
03-27-2016, 09:56 PM
John, I love the new sketches. Your sketches with watercolor and colored pencils are really good. If you're working with watercolor pencils, maybe trying mixing the colors dry on a different piece of paper ahead of time so that when you start sketching you only need to wet the mixing area and transfer color to your sketch?

BeeG
03-28-2016, 09:31 AM
Hi John,

I don't know that Vireo. Interesting that you say it is indistinguishable from a Kinglet. Very different looking than the kinglets I see...and certainly the body shape is not quite as rounded. (Not to mention the coloring!) Maybe your kinglets are different...?

Two observations, both on elongation. The wings of the cormorant look too short to me -- I would make them about 25-30% longer. The same on the Great Horned Owl -- though I know that the ear tufts often tuck in, these just look stubby to me. But I guess that is how they appeared then!

Some of your other sketches are lovely -- particularly like the Kingfisher (who doesn't love a kingfisher??) and the warbler pose is charming.

Nice work!

Gloppus
04-01-2016, 04:46 PM
Nice sketches, John.

I see that the violet-green swallows have been back for a few days. I think they are usually the first of the swallows to arrive. A good sign that summer is approaching at last. I'm looking forward to seeing some of your swallow and summer bird sketches.

Take care,
Philip

JTMB
04-02-2016, 02:12 AM
Thanks Deborah, Joan, Sandra, BeeG and Philip!

Deborah - Nice to have a pond that attracts pelicans! We don't get them in our immediate area - we have Brown Pelicans on the coast and American White Pelicans are mostly on the east side of the mountains. Either species showing up in Puget Sound is cause for excitement among the birders.

Sandra - I tend to use colored pencils only periodically and for quick sketches and haven't really worked on detailed techniques with them. Other approaches I feel more comfortable with.

BeeG - Proportions are something I always have to really concentrate on, particularly with quick sketches. I assume with the cormorant you mean the depth of the wings, rather than the length, and they may not be wide enough.

Actually with experience you can distinguish between a Ruby-crowned Kinglet (RCKI) and a Hutton's Vireo (HUVI). They are both an overall olive-ish color - more neutral than the color I have here. On a cursory look, they look identical, but there are several distinguishing field marks. First, with male birds, it is sometimes (not often) possible to see the 'ruby' patch on the crown of the male RCKI. More often, in order of the most easily observed field mark differences. The HUVI does not have a dark wing bar which the RCKI does have. Second, the RCKI has yellow 'boots' on its feet, whereas the HUVI's feet are all the same dark tone. Third, the HUVI has a 'vireo bill' which is bulkier than the small, very sharp pointed bill of the RCKI. Finally, there is a behavior difference, with the RCKI being hyperactive, hardly ever staying in the same place more than a second or two and is tough to photograph as a result. The HUVI generally has a much more methodical and less frenetic feeding behavior.

Because both birds are small, it's often hard to see the details of the 'boot' color or the details of the bills so the first field mark experienced birders look for is the difference in wing bars.

Philip - I usually see Tree Swallows first, with Violet-greens showing up shortly thereafter, though there is some overlap. Then Northern Rough-winged and Purple Martins, with Cliff and Barn Swallows the latest to arrive. Somewhere in there are Bank Swallows but of course they are quite rare on the west side of the mountains. The Tree Swallows at Nisqually are already starting to nest. Purple Martins showed up about a week ago at the Luhr Beach pier where there are nesting boxes, but they haven't started nesting activities yet - just checking things out.

MeEmilee
04-02-2016, 01:01 PM
I love birds so It's great to be able to look at all of these species and your notes on them! Great drawings so far :) Are these done in the field?

vhere
04-02-2016, 05:16 PM
The vireo and warbler are lovely :)

I'm afraid I only recognise the most common species and of course they are different here. I just get sparrows, wrens, blackbirds, magpies and pigeons being in the city and occasional flocks of starlings.

JTMB
04-03-2016, 12:36 PM
Thanks MeEmilee and Vivien!

MeEmilee - I do some bird sketching from life, but these sketches are based on photographs - some I took, some a friend of mine who is an excellent photographer took, and some (most of this batch) are from online references. Birds are really difficult subjects to do from life for obvious reasons - first, of course, you have to find them :clear: and then you have to hope you have more than a few seconds to get a good look and sketch them. I aspire to become good at drawing them from life, but I don't know if I have enough years left. :lol: There are several UK artists who are/were outstanding bird artists - Tim Wootton (a contemporary artist who lives in the Orkneys, I believe), C. F. Tunicliffe, Eric Ennion, and Keith Brockie. Then Lars Jonsson from Sweden as well. All of them do fabulous studio work as well of course.

Vivien - I'm very fortunate to live outside the city, and have documented 65 species in our yard (includes flyovers, seen-from and heard-from, not just birds that are physically in the yard). We live only a couple miles as the crow flies from a national wildlife refuge which is fabulous for us birders. That refuge has a 'life list' of 251 bird species. My personal life list there is only 121 because we just moved nearby two years ago, and of course a number of the 251 species at the refuge are 'one day wonders' that may not be seen again for many years if ever. But there's plenty of opportunity if I put in the time to get to perhaps 200 species at that location.

Deborah Susan Hill
04-04-2016, 12:36 AM
The White Pelicans are rare in my area as well John. It was odd to see them and when I spotted them as we drove toward home I yelled at my husband to stop the car. The road doesn't get much traffic, but as it happened, a neighbor from a mile or so away from us pulled up behind us, stopped and got out of his car. Then gazed out over the pond and exclaimed, Those are rare birds for this area, while we shot,pics of them and smiled. They usually land on the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers near Wyalusing state park and then head on over to Horicon Marsh in eastern Wisconsin.. So we caught them migrating. We get Trumpeter swans on the lake down the hill sometimes too, and if I hadn't yelled at Bear to stop I likely would have misidentified them as such. Birds bring a smile to my face. Especially big pretty birds :heart: :cat:

MeEmilee
04-04-2016, 05:18 AM
Thanks for the recommendations, John - they've got some beautiful work! I'm finding new ways to procrastinate :lol:

JTMB
04-26-2016, 11:43 PM
Here is the next batch of bird sketches as I try finding time to catch up to what I've seen so far this year. I'm up to 125 species seen, with number 77 being the last one sketched, so I've still got lots of work to do.

WESTERN SCRUB-JAY
This bird used to be quite rare in the immediate area where I live, but it has steadily been expanding its range northward over the last 10 or so years. Now they are common in some areas, and not considered particularly rare anywhere.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/26-Apr-2016/165640-2995-SX50-WESJ_Sketch_-_Apr,_26,_16.jpg

EYEBROWED THRUSH
This sighting created quite a stir among the serious birders here. It is an extremely rare bird on the west coast (possibly only one previously accepted sighting in CA some years ago) and unfortunately was not found by anyone else (and as the day I saw it was raining fairly hard, I did not bring my camera). So due to its extreme rarity, and the lack of other confirmation, I didn't submit the sighting for inclusion in the official state records, but I am 99% certain I saw that species. It is similar to the American Robin, which is also in the thrush family, but has clear field mark differences. It is normally a Siberian bird that usually only appears in Alaska in the US.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/26-Apr-2016/165640-2998-SX50-Eyebrowed_Thrush_-_Apr,_16.jpg

VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW
In bright sunlight, this bird simply sparkles with iridescent green and purple on its back. Very tough to duplicate in a quick sketch (or even a studio piece).

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/26-Apr-2016/165640-2999-SX50-VGSW_-_Apr,_16.jpg

TREE SWALLOW
Another very pretty swallow, with bright metallic blue on its back and with bright white undersides.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/26-Apr-2016/165640-3001-SX50-Tree_Swallow_-_Apr,_16.jpg

GREATER YELLOWLEGS
The reason for this species' name is obvious when you see one wading with the sunlight reflecting off its long, bright yellow legs. There is also a (much less common here) Lesser Yellowlegs, which is smaller and has a shorter bill relative to the size of the head. They are also distinguishable by their different flight calls.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/26-Apr-2016/165640-3003-SX50-GRYE_-_Apr,_16.jpg

MARSH WREN
I love hearing these birds in the spring. In the right habitat, they are everywhere, but are hard to find because they're usually buried down in cattails or other vegetation. They have a buzzy, metallic, raspy chatter that is unmistakable.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/26-Apr-2016/165640-3006-SX50-Marsh_Wren_-_Apr,_16.jpg

BLACK PHOEBE
This bird is expanding its range north, but is still quite rare in our area. However, one of these birds has been staying at a series of reclamation ponds near my house for the last couple years and has been easy enough to find that a lot of folks have been able to add it to their life list for the state. It is a 'flycatcher' species, perching and hawking various insects. It is not colorful, but the combination of dark gray/black and white is still striking.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/26-Apr-2016/165640-3008-SX50-Black_Phoebe_-_Apr,_16.jpg

The sketches here were done with quick graphite sketches, then adding watercolor and in some cases some white gouache for highlights and/or Pigma Micron pen for some definition.

MeEmilee
04-27-2016, 08:59 AM
Great sketches! I especially like the march wren :)

DrDebby
04-27-2016, 03:34 PM
Wonderful that you are seeing all these rare species in your area. Too bad about not having a camera to record the one. Beautiful sketches.

hobbyartist87
04-29-2016, 12:38 AM
Great bird sketches, John. I love the detail that you put into each of these sketches even though you're using media not normally associated with detailed sketches.

Cyntada
05-07-2016, 01:12 AM
Just discovered this and I have so enjoyed all your birds! Black Phoebes are a great favorite of mine. Never saw one until my early 20s, I *know* they were not around here before that, at least not commonly. Now they are everywhere. Love them to bits, the sassy things.

I would love to see some of the more colorful swallows perching. I only ever see them on the wing.

reiver
05-07-2016, 03:25 AM
What a fabulous set of bird paintings John,. Like yourself im a birder,and so glad you like the work of Eric Ennion who did lots of his fieldwork just up the road from where i live.

I find your work refreshing and lively capturing the essence of the bird itself, ive even seen a few of these species over here.

Deborah Susan Hill
05-13-2016, 11:36 PM
The hummingbirds have made their way back north to my yard as of the past weekend. We only get Ruby throated hummingbirds here in Wisconsin. The West coast has a lot more species of hummers than we do and for that reason I am jealous of those who can see more than one variety of hummingbird at their sugar water feeders. I hang one out and clean it once a week to make sure they don't get sick. Don't want them drunk on sugar wine or worse yet puking up vinegar! As always, Deb Hill

JTMB
09-07-2016, 09:09 PM
Hi again folks,

Wow, I can't believe it's been so long since I posted. I'm playing in a very active band, which takes a lot of time, but have been continuing to do a fair amount of sketching and birding. I'm up to 175 species seen this year so far, and just finished sketching number 120, so I still have some work to do. Here are some of my more recent sketches.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/07-Sep-2016/165640-3404-SX50-Osprey_Sketch_-_Aug,_16.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/07-Sep-2016/165640-3406-SX50-BTYW_-_Aug,_16.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/07-Sep-2016/165640-3408-SX50-Chipping_Sparrow_-_Aug,_16.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/07-Sep-2016/165640-3410-SX50-PSFL-Sep,_16.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/07-Sep-2016/165640-3412-SX50-Nashville_Warbler_-_Sep,_16.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/07-Sep-2016/165640-3416-SX50-Pygmy_Nuthatch_-_Sep,_16.jpg

vhere
09-08-2016, 08:27 AM
lovely series :)

Munin Raven
09-08-2016, 01:29 PM
So many cool bird names I've never heard of. I particularly love the Pacific-Slope Flycatcher. Great colour combination. :thumbsup:

DrDebby
09-08-2016, 02:36 PM
Delightful sketches of birds you've seen.

bgviper
09-09-2016, 01:44 AM
from your last batch i like the chipping sparrow, great stuff!

MeEmilee
09-10-2016, 09:23 AM
I just love seeing your bird paintings! Ospreys are a favourite of mine :)

JTMB
09-12-2016, 01:32 AM
Thanks for looking and commenting Vivien, Munin and Debby!

MeEmilee - Thanks! I love raptors, and I've taken a four to five day float trip down a river in central Oregon every year for 31 years in a row, and there are MANY Osprey feeding on the plentiful trout in the river. They are amazing birds.

MeEmilee
09-12-2016, 03:43 AM
Thanks for looking and commenting Vivien, Munin and Debby!

MeEmilee - Thanks! I love raptors, and I've taken a four to five day float trip down a river in central Oregon every year for 31 years in a row, and there are MANY Osprey feeding on the plentiful trout in the river. They are amazing birds.

Sounds like a great trip! I see lots of common buzzards and some kestrels by me, but never an osprey. They're so rare here it seems like an event when a birder spots one!

Joan T
09-18-2016, 03:49 PM
John, great to see you and your birds back again...well done!

Aiylah
10-02-2016, 06:26 AM
Great idea to log all the birds you spot - reminds us there are so many different species which is great! Lovely sketches and drawings :)

laudesan
10-02-2016, 08:32 AM
Loving your bird sketches :)

eyepaint
10-02-2016, 09:38 PM
Woo hoo! So many great bird studies~

KreativeK
11-03-2016, 10:00 AM
Love all your sketches, John, so amazing! Keep up the good work.