Category Archives: white-breasted nuthatch

Hearth in the Woods – Watercolor Sketch


In the Midwest where chill reigns for a quarter of the year, you will find a solemn hearth if you’re lucky in the midst of the woods. Not every preserve has one, but when you happen to spot one, it’s like a treasure. This one is located at Knoch Knolls Park in Naperville, IL.

On this day, I only wish I had wood and permission to start a fire, like I did a few years ago at Heller Woods.  Click here to see photo.

Instead of seeing the warm glow against the oak trees, I will settle for the warm sounds of nagging nuthatches with their nasally, “heh, heh, heh, heh” keeping me company in those oaks.

How is their sound warm, you ask?
It keeps me there a minute longer, no matter what the temperature, and suddenly the cold disappears.


Sketchbook Hiking: Spears Woods VIDEO

Well friends, here it is! Finally!
Sit back and relax and enjoy a short hike at Spears Woods before we do a step-by-step watercolor sketch demonstration. Why are we hiking before we paint? Well, I really want to invite the viewer to make a connection with nature and become familiar with the location we decide to sketch. The hike is short, only 2 minutes long, followed by the demo.

The video is divided into 3 sections:

Part 1 of 3 (7 mins)

Part 2 of 3 (11 mins)

Part 3 of 3 (11 min)

I hope you enjoy this free demonstration and that it helps you learn how to do easy watercolor sketches. I was SOOOOO nervous, I hope it doesn’t show in the video. I’m sure I’ll get better with experience.

Birds and Bagel

Just a few bird pictures from my hike last weekend, here we have a tiny little chickadee and an incoming downy woodpecker.

Now that’s odd. It’s not everyday you find a bagel in a tree. Someone left this bird treat on a branch for easy bird access. By the looks of it, some winged friend already had a taste.

This nuthatch has his eye on me. Don’t worry little guy, I won’t bother you.

These birds calm me down and replenish my worrisome mind.

Woodland Birds

Last weekend while hiking, I came upon some benches that had walnuts on them. I did not put them there. Feeding the wildlife is prohibited in the Cook County Forest Preserves, it’s a definite no-no. But boy did I get to see some up close birds!

My favorite of the bunch: white-breasted nuthatch.

Hey…Look at me when I’m talking to you.   Ha ha.
This male downy woodpecker wasted no time fleeing from the scene.

Chickadee-dee-dee-out-of-here! Isn’t that what they say?

Be nice gals, there is enough to share. One female downy woodpecker (bottom right) and one white breasted nuthatch (top right).

Here is a close up of the white-breasted nuthatch. This bird is so tiny, maybe a whole 5 inches. I love this picture because I can see the pink inside his beak. The nuthatch makes a funny, short, deep, beep beep beep sound…it reminds me of being at a carnival standing next to the toddler car ride that goes round and round and all the little tikes are beeping their car horns.

I was very excited to study these woodland birds. Maybe soon we will make a painting!

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.