A little bird anatomy – feather groups of the head

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My sister gave me “The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds” by John Muir Laws as a birthday present back in July. I haven’t read it cover to cover yet, but once in a while, I read two to four pages to learn interesting things like what bones and feather groups make up a bird wing and how the wings fold. Last week, after neglecting the book for a month or so, I thought it would be fun to learn a little about the different feather groups on a bird’s head and re-draw the diagram myself. I think the head belongs to a prototypical sparrow but it kind of resembles a Savannah Sparrow (because it has all the stripes). This is the Sibley version of a Savannah Sparrow head. Looking at the Laws and Sibley drawings now, I notice that I made a subtle error with the subauricular (or moustachial) stripe. It should be thinner near the beak. Also, before seeing the Sibley version, I didn’t clue in that the stripe is part of the auriculars, not below them.

You can see the original drawing with Google Books here (page 18). Also, John Muir Laws has a blog with many cool bird drawing tips, including this cool gif on how to draw a warbler (the gif is on this blog post). In the book, the steps are split in two (pencil sketch on page 11 and final painting on page 100).

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17 Comments

  1. A great help to the study and appreciation of birds. The drawing looks excellent.

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    1. Thanks Haunani :-). I do find a little knowledge of anatomy helpful in drawing birds and humans.

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  2. Wow! You rock! I can’t imagine ever taking the time to do something like this, but this is quite lovely, Myriam! That’s a terrific book. 💛

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    1. Thanks Laura :-). It didn’t take as long as drawing a whole bird from a photo. I’ve been drawing a few birds from drawings this month, which has been an interesting change from photographs. I do need to be in a particular mood to learn about bird bones though.

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  3. Beautiful reproduction Myriam. Thanks for sharing the wonderful information about birds.

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    1. Thanks Sharon :-). I’ve been reproducing a few birds from drawings in books this month. It gives me a bit of time away from my desktop computer.

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  4. Myriam, you are as talented with a pencil as you are with the camera! I love this drawing/diagram of yours! It’s a great way to learn, in my opinion. One day, when I have time, I will do this, too. 😉

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    1. Thanks Teresa :-). I’m having fun with my HB pencil lately.

      I hope you get more time some day. Time is awesome! But it does always seem to run out.

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      1. I keep asking for the gift of time for my birthday and Christmas but nobody ever gives it to me! 😉 Keep up the graphite drawings; they are awesome!

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        1. LOL :-D! And thanks for the encouragement. I seem to own a lot of pencils now. My options at the pharmacy were 24 wood pencils or 5 mechanical pencils, and I couldn’t choose between the two, so I bought both. It turns out I like the mechanical ones for drawing outlines but I find it much easier to do shading with the wood ones. I’m thinking of getting a mechanical sharpener though.

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          1. I have .5 mechanical pencil leads which don’t need sharpening so I’ve not seen a mechanical sharpener before. Might as well buy both as I’m sure they didn’t cost too much, right? 🙂 I’m sure you won’t let them go to waste!

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  5. Your drawing is beautiful!

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    1. Thanks M :-). Science and drawing are a pretty cool combo.

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