A little bird anatomy – feather groups of the head


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).


    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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  1. 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. πŸ˜‰

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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? πŸ™‚ I’m sure you won’t let them go to waste!

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