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).


    • 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. 😉

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        • 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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          • 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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