Last winter I added some birdfeeders to my backyard and have become an avid birdwatcher since. Most mornings, I sit by my window, drinking coffee, and camera with a telephoto lens nearby to watch and take pictures of the birds.
European Starlings are an invasive species where I live, and many people consider them a nuisance at the birdfeeders. It wasn’t until I was able to get a few decent pictures of them that I was able to appreciate what beautiful birds they are!
I think will be doing a series of paintings of my favorite backyard birds going forward. I’m still in the early stages of this one, but I was excited with how it was coming along and figured I could share some snapshots of my progress.
Very pretty! I like how you can see parts of the sketch showing through, this was done digitally?
Your photographs and your painting is looking fab.
I guess it’s with pastels?
Thank you! It’s done digitally in a free program called Krita. It’s an excellent program, and absolutely no cost!
Anyway, this is my current progress. I’m fairly happy with the body at this point (just gotta finish the feet), but not so much with the background. I’ll have to play with that…
Looks great! Grackles are the bullies of a bird feeder, they’ll bite/hit/claw any other birds to get their snack. Squirrels are enemy #2 but the squirrel spin feeders take care of that and are a hoot to watch.
Apparently the key to fewer grackles is no sunflower seed or very little in your food. They get called “black birds” a lot but are a bit bigger (some say “small crows”) and have a purplish blue iridescent sheen to their color that looks black unless sun is hitting it then it looks like an anti-reflective coating on camera lenses where it kind of shifts sheen through blue to purple/indigo.
I’d prefer cardinals at bird feeder but take what I can get, which is usually woodpeckers, starlings and once they establish food source, add sunflower seeds since grackles tend to leave groups of birds alone.
Squirrels are also addicted to sunflower seeds, so while you don’t get as much traffic without sunflower seeds, you tend to only get the prettier birds, in which I put starlings in that category, better than dull grey/brown sparrow or mean grackles.
Thank you! @ThatOtherGuy ! I’ve only had Grackles, Starlings, and Black Birds a handful of times. My more regular birds are Sparrows, Finches, Wrens, Titmice, Juncos, Blue Jays, Chickadees, Nuthatches, one Cardinal pair, Woodpeckers, and a few others that I’m sure I’m forgetting I try my best to attract a wide variety of birds so I use a variety of seeds, including lots of black sunflowers seeds. Unfortunately, the squirrels do love a lot of the bird food I set out. I don’t mind them too much as long as they’re not too greedy. I enjoy taking their pictures too occasionally.
I was able to get a couple of nice shots of Grackles on one of the occasions that they’ve visited my feeders:
I find them to be quite beautiful birds too and might attempt to paint one, but I think my next bird is going to be a BlueJay.
Something along this picture. Might use some of my other shots of Bluejays though because this one looks a bit squatty lol
I’m not sure that I’m ready to call it finished just yet, but I’ll probably take a break from it for a while and start working on something else.
Ooooooh wow!!! I like these birds very much. Did you know that thei are able to mimic the voice of other birds to get their slepping tree? It’s so much fun to see how the others react. You did such a great job! Will try Krita myself, but am very new to digital art. Thank you very much for sharing the progress with us, loved to see the finished painting.
I love your photos. May we have your permission to use them as references for our own artwork as well?
Excellent photos! You caught the iridescence of the grackle perfectly, and the rest of the photos are great as well!
I have only one pair of Cardinals intermittently, only see them maybe twice a year or even skip a year, not many of them around here. No bluebirds/jay, closest I get up here in cold area is nuthatch (S Dakota). Get red winged blackbirds which are less boring with red and yellow stripes on wings.
Have you thought of sharing your photos on Pixabay or do you sell them? They’re very nice, seems you have a fast wide aperture lens to get the bokeh background.
Thank you! @CLynn yes, anyone on here is welcome to use my photos as a reference.
@ThatOtherGuy Thank you! I guess I’m very fortunate with the variety of birds that already come to my feeders, but of course, I still want to attract more I know there are a lot of Bluebirds around the area but have only seen one that was curious and came by to check things out when I first put out the feeders last year. I set out some mealworms before but didn’t have any luck attracting them. I’ll keep trying different things though.
I mainly use a Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 lens on Sony A7IV. I have an older Sigma lens that reaches 600mm but it’s actually not as sharp and doesn’t focus as quickly so I rarely ever use it. I have considered upgrading to the Sony 200-600, but it’s hard to justify the expense when it’s only a hobby, and the lens I currently have already works well. Anyway, I have used Pixabay for references a handful of times, but honestly, it didn’t occur to me that I could contribute some of my pictures. I think I will do so now that you’ve suggested it though! I don’t sell my pictures and might as well share them and hopefully help other artists
All these pictures are absolutely gorgeous!!! Is photography just a hobby or your bussiness as well? Theyre definately professional quality!
Thanks for sharing!
@wren07 thank you! Unfortunately it’s just an expensive hobby
Very expensive hobby. I have the 70-210mm/2.8 Canon lens and I had a 300/f2.8 but sold it since I didn’t use it that much and didn’t want it stolen. Switching to the digital sensore size instead of full frame, adding 1.4 to the lens length makes it pretty crisp, I have that and one that is adjustable to 500 but don’t have to reach that far. I used to shoot sports freelance and gave it up now that everything is in 4k video where they just frame grab from it, very difficult to compete there. Your photos are excellent quality and would be great references on pixabay!
Not sure what keywords to use, maybe color of bird and background and type of bird, i really not good at keywords and not sure what people typically search for, I use the old “yahoo keyword search” circa y2k Internet and am very specific and it doesn’t work so well with modern google/bing “concept search” where it wants to be asked a whole question instead of keywords.
Well, they’re very good. You should be proud.
Thank you @wren07 ! you’re very kind