I’ve drawn a lot of Goldfinches. That shouldn’t be much of surprise since they are one of the most common birds I see at my feeders. They often feed in flocks and nest in the hedges at the back of the yard.
In the course of drawing them, I’ve come to realize — again — that all birds of a species don’t look alike. That’s one of things wrong with most birding books. They show you a pictures of a rather idealized bird, so when you are looking at them yourself, if the bird isn’t quite the same color or has different markings, you aren’t sure if you are seeing the same bird or a different (similar) bird. Sometimes, a bird can look very different. Be the wrong color or have markings in places the bird in the book or online doesn’t have.
A birds’ color can depend on what the bird eats. A few years ago, I went through a period when all the cardinals I saw were orange, not red. It turned out that there were bunches of orange cardinals in other places. For two years, the cardinals were orange and then they were red again. No one ever explained why.
Bird’s eggs will vary in color too, including chicken’s eggs. A lot of the eggs we buy locally here are blue. It’s the feed they get. They just like that feed and it turns their eggs blue. Not deep blue, but definitely not white or brown.
Goldfinch change color depending on the season. In winter, they are dull yellow — almost orange, taupe, or pale olive green. They don’t get their bright yellow feathers until breeding season usually between March and April. They breed two or three times per season.
Drawing birds makes you more aware of the differences between birds of a single species. There is an intimacy to creating the image by hand. These are many (not all) of my drawings of Goldfinches. I left some out because I didn’t like them. Most of them were early drawings. I draw better now — and considering how hard I’ve tried, I would hope there would be some improvement. If I hadn’t made progress during these months, I’d give up.