As an artist I am inspired by the beautiful birds that frequent my backyard feeders. Summer birds as well as the feathered visitors that arrive in our deepest Winters, spark my creativity. Summer here in the Berkshires of Massachusetts is brief, but spectacular. There are sprawling lush-green country fields, bright-charming gardens, and vivid window boxes against the quaint New England homes. During our brief summers, I enjoy a visual treasure of colorful birds alongside a backdrop of vibrant flowers.
(Western Tanager ACEO above)
Below is a photograph I snapped this morning looking out my studio door. The lemon yellow birds are American Goldfinch and that splash of saffron in the foreground is a big happy sunflower.
American Goldfinch visit in Summer and Winter, but only sport their bright colors in the Summer. During the Winter months, Goldfinch are a soft subtle gray.
Below are two miniature pieces (ACEOs) I created of the familiar and charming Blue Jay
Winter in New England can be quite severe. It’s not unusual on a January day to have the wind chill dip to 40 degrees below zero with snow blowing and icicles covering the windows. Yet even on a day like that, when I look out my studio window, backyard birds are flitting about gathering seeds from my feeder and chirping merrily. In addition to their cheery attitude, thier colors are breathtaking! There is nothing like the unworldly red of the Northern Cardinal against a stark gray and icy white backdrop. In Winter my eyes seem to be more receptive to the subtle shades of the less colorful birds as well.
The dear little Black-capped Chickadee (shown in my tiny painting- ACEO above) is so small and jaunty with his deep black cap and brilliant white chest.
The female Northern Cardinal (as in my ACEO painting above) is especially colorful in the Winter, her subtle shades of cool gray and warm gold seem so striking to me, while in the Summer I rarely notice her. Watching the birds of Winter is one of the things that gets me through those long cold days, inspiring me and making me smile. In the deepest and darkest days of Winter, when everything is frozen and gray, these feathered friends bring me great joy.
Below is a portrait of the common Blue Jay on a snowy winter morning.
Below I've included an excerpt from the Audubon website, in hopes of inspiring you to enjoy the art of backyard birding:
"Did you know that over 100 North American bird species supplement their natural diets with birdseed, suet, fruit and nectar obtained from feeders?
Bird feeding can benefit birds and also provides great bird watching from your own backyard. The obvious time to feed birds is in winter when natural food supplies are scarce; however, additional species visit feeders during the spring and fall migrations, and also during summer while nesting.
To keep birds coming back to your feeders in any season provide them with the following three essential elements:
* Variety of quality seed.
* Fresh water for drinking and bathing.
* Ample cover, preferably provided by native plants. Native plants also provide potential nesting sites and a source of natural food."