Birds at My Feeder Sketch

Last Saturday, this was the scene from my window. Oh how happy I was! You may be thinking, “So what? You have birds that visit your feeder.” This scene however, with a chickadee, a white-breasted nuthatch, and a male downy woodpecker happened at the same time!

99% of the time when I look out the window I either see a sparrow at the feeder or a big stupid squirrel stealing seeds from me. It is excitement when I witness a “non-regular”. To have 3 non-regulars at the same time is big time happiness for me.

I sketched this scene so that at a later time I can thumb through my sketchbook and reminisce on the day when I saw these birds together at the same time. Notice that I make sure to document the date, time and weather conditions. I want to know if there is a connection. My hypothesis right now: The 3 different types of birds are following each other to team up, attacking the same feeder, because it is colder out and insects are less common than free available seed/suet. The birds are going to use a lot of energy keeping themselves alive in the winter. Food/energy source is crucial to survival. I know that the chickadee is known to travel and follow the downy woodpecker, but do they do that in the summer time as well, when food is abundant everywhere? If I witness the same scene in the summertime and document the time, date, and weather conditions in my sketchbook, then I know my hypothesis is incorrect.

My sketchbook helps me learn. You can start a sketchbook too. It is rather inexpensive. The sketchbook may cost you $10 and you can buy a watercolor travel kit for $20. No experience necessary! Why not document what you see and we can learn together.


  1. I so need to do this. It seems like I’m always so busy, but I have the sketchbook(s) and the watercolors and pens. I just don’t have the motivation or, it seems, the time. But that’s no excuse. Less computer–more watercolor/colored pencil/marker/pastel . . . yeah, I’ve got the materials. Only I don’t use them. 🙄

    Bad girl! No computer for you today! 😉

    (PS, I love your sketch–just have to follow your example.)

    Love, Cindy

  2. I enjoy your sketch books posts. I have done some nature sketch book work and really enjoy looking back at the sketch of the bird/nature/place and the description of the event. It brings back a more vivid mental picture than just thinking back. BTW, I first started reading your blog because of your nature sketch book theme. Thanks and keep it up.

  3. Realizing that there may be times when you may tweak a sketch at some point after creating the initial sketch, how long does it normally take you to do these initial ‘nature’ sketches like this one or your leafs and twigs on average?

  4. Cindy: Thanks! I know what you mean about not having much time…it seems to be disappering quickly everyday. I like to ignor chores and paint HA HA HA! Making dinner?…forget it! Who needs to eat and clean when you can paint! 😀

    Northern Birder: Thank you very much! I agree with getting a more vivid memory by looking at a sketch. It is much different than looking at a picture. I think it is because when sketching, it might take me 30mins to one hour to complete a sketch, the whole time I am talking to myself in my head about the shape, the colors, the sounds…just the opposite of taking a split second picture and then forgetting about it. What a great topic to discuss at a later time! Thanks!

    Dave: Yes! I loves my birdies! Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

    Alan: A watercolor sketch if it is small (5×7) usually takes one hour. A pastel painting if small (8×10) and take 2-4 hours and a large pastel painting (11×14, 16×20) can take 6-8 hours. The BEST part is, when painting I can be in what’s called “flow”, it is when you loose all concept of time. In that tranquil time I am not hungry, or tired, even if several hours pass. Matter of fact, when in “flow” during a 6 hour painting, at the end it feels as if only 30 minutes passed. I hear it is one of the most healthy things to experience. Any person who has a passon for something can experience the state of “flow” doing what they love. I highly advise it!

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