How to Draw Birds (Beautiful Birds!)

Feb 25, 2023
Drawings and paintings of birds. Rooster, emu, cockatoo, kookaburra, magpie, budgie, owl, peacock.

I watched flashes of yellow, white and black as nearly a dozen beautiful little New Holland Honeyeaters flapped and fluttered and frolicked amongst the lime green leaves of my young Port Wine Magnolia bushes. Their twittering was a delight to hear as they enjoyed the cooling sensations of the water droplets left by the sprinkler. Relief for them, as well as my garden, after nearly a week of sweltering temperatures. 

Got me thinking about the connections we have with birds, how we learn more about them through the curriculum, and all the great art lessons in Artventure that can help your children draw birds (click to HERE to sign up or enjoy a FREE TRIAL).

Australian Curriculum

Birds are a constant in our lives and are used as examples to support learning in a variety of curriculum areas. Educators (classroom teachers or homeschoolers) will find mention even in disciplines like Mathematics: count, classify, graph data of observations of birds in the yard. Biological Science is the obvious connection where students classify living things including birds and study life cycles of creatures, like birds. In Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS) there are suggestions for community projects where children consider ways to protect bird habitats and strategies to preserve bird-attracting vegetation. Then building safe bird shelters is a possibility in Design Technologies.

A child’s investigation into Local Birds is used as a sample for the Achievement Standard in Science at the end of Year 3. This is one time when there may be a need or desire to draw birds during studies. Drawing birds may well be just for pleasure! How do we know what to draw? If we could, it would be by direct observation but birds won’t sit still! Explicit Visual Art lessons on how to draw birds can help enrich the projects and reports that children share with us.

Images of Birds

It’s not easy to capture birds in photos as they seem to be constantly on the move, often disturbed by our presence. Bird watchers, known as twitchers, like to use bird hides. Even so it can take a great deal of patience to be in the right place at the right time. Knowing the habits and habitats of specific birds obviously increases the chances of sightings. 

Beginnings of birdlife

The study of birds is known as ornithology - observing, sketching, photographing, drawing, labelling, analysing, reflecting, and sharing artworks of birds. Interestingly there was a branch of dinosaurs known as Ornithischia. This is because they were classified as having a bird-like hip structure. I’ve just been working on a blog ‘digging up the dirt on dinosaurs’ (watch out for it!) and found it fascinating that today’s birds evolved from dinosaurs BUT not that branch. The ancestors of birds were Saurischians - more specifically, theropods, like the massive Tyrannosaurus Rex! Wow! But that’s another story…

Birds today

Needless to say the evolution of birds has resulted in an incredibly diverse array of species inhabiting almost every corner on earth. When working with students, identifying observable features of birds has them considering not just the splendour of their plumage (use links below for the peacock, the duck and the rooster), but the purpose of their diverse beaks (use the links below to compare the toucan, pelican, cockatoo and brolga - for starters). Why do the males tend to be more colourful than the females? How do birds use their beaks to get hold of food and eat it?

Some species of birds can be found on multiple continents around the world. Others are confined to small pockets, being native to certain locations. It’s because of this connection with places that people have used birds as symbols and emblems. Does your country or culture recognise a particular bird for a special reason? In Australia, each state and territory has claimed a bird as their emblem. Try the links below to find out more.

These are Artventure lessons for Native Australian Birds:

Other BIRD lessons in Artventure:

Then we have some Visual Arts lessons that are more challenging to draw, and a bit of fun with birds:

Art Eye Deer lessons:

My garden, and parks nearby, see many colourful birds like crimson rosellas, rainbow lorikeets and red-rumped parrots. My favourite, though, is the tiny blue wren. I love watching these birds out my windows or when I go for walks. I enjoy trying to identify their calls. My grandchildren often do the same now and like to tell me about sightings, particularly if it has been a rarer or perhaps endangered species. I have not mastered capturing birds in photos (did I just hear a kookaburra laughing?!), but developing artistic skills and drawing techniques to portray these beautiful creatures may be the next best thing. As an educator, there are opportunities here to encourage this with our children. 

Erica Shadiac
Artventure Blogger and Teacher

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