Monday, January 28, 2019

The Flicker’s Chevron

1/19/19 flicker

I don’t consider myself a birder meticulously documenting each species, but I think simply viewing birds daily at our feeder and observing closely enough to draw them has made me a better nature observer overall.

Although juncos, chickadees and finches predominate, every now and then a few flickers appear at our feeder (last spring I showed the one I drew from a photo as well as my own earlier sketches). In all our bird identification books, flickers are always shown in profile. That’s also usually the way I see them, awkwardly trying to dine at our feeder (which is designed for much smaller birds). I sketched one from behind only once.

That’s why I was so excited when I saw a flicker hanging on the side of our feeder with its back to us: I discovered a beautiful red chevron on the back of its neck that I’d never seen before. I’d like to think that I would have made the same observation even if all I did was view birds. I believe, though, that it was the act of making the red pencil strokes in my sketch that made me realize I’d never sketched that chevron before.

Drawing is observing; drawing is remembering.

1/16/19 This is the type of profile view I usually see.

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