Sunday, February 9, 2014

White-crowned Sparrow with Snowflakes

I created this painting of a White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys) for my Dad. I've been on crutches for the past three weeks and haven't been able to get outside to fill my bird feeders. Instead, I turned our deck into one huge feeder so I can simply open the kitchen door and toss the seed out. Our deck is covered in snow and ice, so the birds must think they are on the ground. It took a day or two for them to get used to the new digs, but they love it now. When the snow and ice melt away (probably in June if the weather keeps up), it's going to be a huge mess, but until then, it's fab! My mom and dad were over the other day and we were talking when my dad noticed a new bird on the deck. It was a White-crowned Sparrow. We have a lot of White-throated Sparrows in our yard, but White-crowned Sparrows are rare. Some winters we have none, so seeing one on the deck only steps from my kitchen window was exciting. Good eye, Dad!

A White-crowned Sparrow sits with snowflakes falling all around. This is a realistic painting of the bird, but the snowflakes are whimsical.
White-crowned Sparrow with Snowflakes, watercolor and gouache, by Kelly Riccetti
I used this pencil sketch to help me plan out my watercolor painting.
...the pencil sketch I created as a study for the White-crowned Sparrow painting. Can you see the cat paw prints? Bip did a little dance across it when I wasn't looking. Bad, Bip! Although those little paw prints do look cute...  

Earlier in January, I photographed a White-crowned Sparrow in our backyard. He was part of a mixed flock of White-throated Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, American Tree Sparrows, Northern Cardinals, and Carolina Chickadees. I'm glad I was able to photograph him then, because I haven't been able to get back out since...

The contrast between the white and black feathers on a White-crowned Sparrow are striking. The cross on the back of his head is a tell-tale sign that his is a White-crowned and not a White-throated Sparrow.
The cross on the back of a White-throated Sparrow's head is a giveaway to this bird's ID. The contrast between the white and black is very noticeable and makes it easier to distinguish between White-crowned and White-throated Sparrows.

I love the warm browns, grays, and blacks on the White-crowned Sparrows wings. This bird is beautiful, and I always look forward to seeing one in our yard.

Fluffing up against the cold, this fella looks cool from behind!
Fluffing up his feathers against the cold, this fella seems to have a spiky hairdo.  I love the side view of the head and the detail of the back feathers and wing feathers.

I painted the White-crowned Sparrow in this post in a style similar to a painting I did of a White-throated Sparrow in December--click here for that post. In both, I painted the birds in a realistic style but went whimsical with the snowflakes. (You'll probably notice the White-crowned Sparrow has more snowflakes than those in the White-throated's painting. We are getting a lot more snow now than in December! :-)


holdingmoments said...

A lovely looking bird Kelly, with his white stripey head.
Your painting does him proud.

Janice K said...

Your painting is awesome! I love the way the feathers on his breast look so real and soft. And the snow flakes definitely make it realistic for this Winter.

So sorry to hear you are not getting around so well. Hope all heals quickly so you can be out and about when the snow finally goes away.

TexWisGirl said...

beautiful painting.

here, we see a few more white-crowned than we do white-throated. the white-throated are quite rare. :)

Montanagirl said...

Another terrific post, Kelly. Sorry to hear you're on crutches. Some kind of surgery? Your bird sketches/paintings are truly amazing.

Roy Norris said...

Superb watercolour, sketch and photographs Kelly.
Hope you get off those crutches soon.

Linda said...


Barbara Strobel Lardon said...

Beautiful art beautiful photographs of this bird.

Banjo52 said...

Your last photo of him is quietly spectacular!

I've loved these guys since
1. I learned of their existence via their goofy football helmets for crowns.
2. Learned, maybe, to contrast them to their white-throated cousins.
3. Watched a young, abandoned one be adopted and fed for a week by a cardinal couple, which the local Audubon chapter confirmed was possible, esp. for cardinals. (I've told that story a hundred times--forgive me if you've heard 98 of them).

Have you already explained the crutches? I've skipped a couple of posts. Hope it's going well.

Kelly said...

....I forgot to explain why I'm on crutches. I was feeding the birds in the snow, stepped on the edge of a rock, rolled the ankle and then it wedged between two rocks as I fell. The ligaments gave way, a little nerve damage...and now I'm out of luck! It will be better before spring migration! :-)

Ana Mínguez Corella said...

Hi!!!. Just beautiful.. Congrats..

Elaine said...

Beautiful painting and photos of the White-crowned Sparrow! We get them here, but not the White-throated. Hope you're off the crutches soon--I've been there and it's not fun at all.

Kelly said...

...thanks, everyone! The foot continues to improve. Until then, I'll keep watching from the window!