It has been a while since I participated in Draw a Bird Day. I was happy to see some bird drawings in my blog reader this morning and decided to get inspired. I’ve been mostly sketching lately and none of the results have looked quite showable. But I did have a partially coloured drawing of some bird wings. And now, it’s fully coloured!
When I look at open and folded wings in bird photos, I often wonder – how do they fold and which feathers go where? John Muir Laws came to the rescue! The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds explains all this with beautiful illustrations. My two wing drawings are based on his illustrations of a passerine wing (dark grey with two white wing bars… I don’t know the species… some kind of flycatcher???). I did a good job of illustrating the layout of the different feather groups, but oops, I forgot to count the secondary feathers. Both wings should show 9, but my folded wing shows 8 and the open wing shows 12. Passerines have 9 secondary feathers and the last 3 are called tertials. Some non-passerine birds, like gulls, have more than 3 tertials.
In a recent sketch of a Scarlet Tanager in flight, I did count the primary and secondary feathers before drawing them. But it’s an oops for another reason. The way I drew the primary coverts and greater secondary coverts doesn’t make sense because, in a partially folded wing, the primary coverts slide under the greater secondary coverts. I misinterpreted the photo (Cape May Bird Observatory blog)! Oh well, I learned something.
Primaries and secondaries form two feather groups because the primaries attach to the “hand” bones, while the secondaries attach to the ulna (forearm). The alula feathers attach to the “thumb” bone. No flight feathers attach to the humerus (upper arm). Long-winged birds, like albatrosses, have longer humerus bones than other birds and have “humeral” feathers in this region. However, I haven’t found any information about where the humerals originate (the humerus? the humeral tract?).
Happy Draw a Bird Day!