Birds, Birds, and More Birds

Blue Jays, Mourning Doves, Black-capped Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatches, Downy Woodpeckers, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Cardinals, Titmice, Robins, Song Sparrow, House Finches, Yellow-shafted Flicker… I’ve seen and heard all these outside my kitchen window in the past five minutes. A constant coming and going and flurry of activity, both at the feeder and on the lawn. It’s peaceful for me to sit and watch the birds, but there is no end of the activity for the birds.

About twenty or thirty young Robins with speckled breast have congregated in the yard, fluttering around and catching worms in the rain-softened earth. I haven’t seen many Robins for a while, so I’m wondering why so many have gathered all of a sudden.
I’ve seen several young birds begging for food from a parent. The young bird squats low in front of the adult and flutters its wings out to the side while it cheeps pitifully. Sometimes the adult ignores it; sometimes it feeds the youngster something just picked up from the feeder they’re both sitting on.

These pages from my sketchbook are from several days this year. I keep it by my rocking chair for sketching the birds at the feeder when I sit with Bituminous on my lap. Most sketches were done in a few seconds, as the birds rarely cooperate by posing for me.
I often refer to my sketches when I do watercolors or pen and ink drawings, and even when I don’t use them for that, sketching the birds gives me more of a feel for them. I’ve watched and sketched these birds so often that I now recognize some of the individuals that come to the feeder and know which birds are bossier and which more submissive, which stay and stock up with many seeds and which grab one and leave hurriedly. I love observing not only their appearance but also their behavior. Even though birds of a species look so similar at first glance, I’m finding that they’re all individuals, each unique and interesting.

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