Learning to Draw Birds

I’d like to get better at drawing birds, for better field sketches among other reasons. So I’ve been sketching some practice drawings, like the ones below.

My first sketch of a Black-capped Chickadee, I’m not sure if I will finish it,

A drawing of a male Purple Finch I haven’t finished yet,

I decided I needed some help, and started looking online for some book and blog suggestions, because we live about three hours away from the nearest city where I could find a class. I found some very good blog posts by John Muir Laws — including “Drawing Birds” — and then learned that Mr. Law has a book coming out in September, The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds to be published by Heyday Books, with a foreword by David Allen Sibley (whose bird drawings I like so much I have several of his posters in my room). It sounds wonderful and I can’t wait for it to be published.

Since that book won’t be out for several months, some other books about drawing birds I’ve been looking at are Drawing Birds with Colored Pencils by Kaaren Poole, and Drawing Birds by John Busby. I’m going to see if I can find them at the library so I can decide whether they would be worth buying. Mostly, I think, I need to practice and stop being afraid of drawing a bird even if the picture isn’t perfect. But I think a good book or two would be very helpful.

Do you have any suggestions for drawing birds, field sketching, or books or blog posts that could help me? Thank you!

15 thoughts on “Learning to Draw Birds

  1. Prairie Birder,

    You should look at the American Birding Association information for Young Birders http://www.aba.org/yb/. There is info on blogs, groups, FaceBook pages, scholarships, young birder camps and tours, and the Young Birder Contest. Although “American” in name the ABA covers Canada as well, and youth activities seem to be open to Canadians as well.

    Good Birding,
    Doug Faulder

  2. Prairie Birder,

    You should look at the American Birding Association website, especially the Young Birder stuff. http://www.aba.org/yb/ There is info on blogs, groups, Facebook pages, camps, tours, a contest, scholarships, all for young birders. Although ‘American” in name everything is open to Canadians as well.

    Good birding,
    Doug Faulder
    Edmonton/ Two Hills County

    • The ABA is one of my favorite birding websites, and I just became a member. I have been looking at the young birder contest and wondering if I should enter. I am very busy this year but it would be fun to enter.

  3. I have some suggestions: Learn to Draw Birds by Peter Partington, 1998. Will probably have to find a used copy. I did from UK.
    And Sketching Birds by Frank J Lohan 1990—new edition out next December, but again, can get used—check Amazon; ebay; and half.com.
    Busby is awesome. Claire Walker Leslie’s Field Sketching (used, again) and Keeping a Nature Journal both have lots on bird drawing.
    You are doing great. Keep it up. I’m anxious for the Laws book too. He has a lot of good stuff on his website: johnmuirlaws.com

  4. You are welcome. Here is another book with a lot of great information, perfect for your interests—How to keep a Naturalist’s Notebook, Tomlinson. Available new on Amazon.com. Has a great deal on birds. . Also, Illustrating Nature by Irene Brady. All this will keep you busy. Diane

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