Friday, May 29, 2009

Lilac-breasted Roller (Coracias caudata)


My sister went to Africa a while ago and came back with the most amzing stories of colorful birds she had seen. She made a couple of pictures and e-mailed them to me. Now going to Africa is on my Things to do list, but I am not too sure I will be checking that box anytime soon. However she gave me a pretty good idea of the birds and particularly the Lilac-breasted Roller (wonderful name!) I started researching this gorgeous beauty a little and put her high on my Birds-to-be-Illustrated-Long-List (BILL). I hear everyone talking about shortlists all the time, but I can seem to be able to make one. I digress... Then my boyfriend's uncle went to Africa too and came back with other amazing photos about this particular bird too. So that was enough. The Lilac-breasted Roller went to spot #1. I made a series of American birds a few weeks ago, and now I was going to do a series for Africa. I want to keep to a certain area so the birds have a connection. ( and I will always have an excuse for another series to focus on another part of that continent) Being in Africa with my search for birds, I also take advantage of the situation to pick the most colorful ones. Of course there are more amazing birds, but I have had it with black and greys for the moment, and I am in the mood for exotic shades!
The other 2 or 3 birds I will pick I am not too sure. First I will see what my sister and boyfriend's uncle have on their memorycard for me!

Friday, May 15, 2009

The baby blackbird is growing up.

I guess he is still happy about hanging out in our garden instead of the catwalk on the back of the house where kids and cats roam. In the sand you can barely see him. He's found a nice spot behind our barbeque to enjoy the spring sun. Don't you just love it when birds have a sun bath? They close their eyes just like we do. I love seeing that 'human' side of birds. (or that bird side in us humans, I mean who says we were first to enjoy the sun huh?)
When I had to take the trash out I have to pass this niche and a door. Of course our little friend was sitting there and I had him cornered! Not very friendly of me because I'll be he was a little scared. We turned it into a nice flying lesson and before I knew it he was looking down on me from the top of the shed. I could see his baby feathers turning into adult feathers. Cute!




He looks a little puffy and clumsy on this picture. Makes you melt! Pity he thinks of me as some strange and pale monster! Good for him/her though.



Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Maureen's birdies

Since I have surrendered to twitter, I thought I might as well join facebook. Nothing is beneath me. I've tried to hold back the hype, fight the temptation, although I didn't believe it would bring me anything good - I decided to go for it anyway. How wrong could I be? After less than an hour being a Facebook member I run into lovely Maureen from Florida, who I blogged about a while back.
I made the Loggerhead Shrike, The Belted Kingfisher and the Yellow Rumped Warbler for her and her boyfriend on special request. One by one I e-mailed her the drawings for approval and to let her know how I was getting on with it. The set was her present for him for their anniversary. The process was pretty exciting as I didn't know what she would think of them, and each time I send one over, I kept on checking my e-mail to find out if she'd got it, and more importantly, what she would think of them. When you get a special request like that, you're always scared that you don't meet the expectations. Today Maureen placed these photos on her facebook! I couldn't be happier! It is so important to for me to get this type of feedback. When you're drawing in your studio and barely talking to anyone, your mind may play tricks on you and you start thinking about disappointing a customer and just plain failure.
Maureen added this to the photos: "A very talented artist designed these bird illustrations for us. And we adore them!" Makes my day!!! See how they look framed up in lilac! Lovely!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Baby Blackbird!!!


Last week when boyfriend and I were planning to go cycling two sweet beady eyes looked at us from the ground in the path behind our garden. In a corner there was a tiny baby blackbird that couldn't fly very well yet. The parents were going crazy in the air because a cat was peeking down at him from around the corner too. You always hear where the cat of the neighbors is going from the insane sound the blackbirds are making to scare it. I am sure the cat hates that sound, but it will not stop him from getting a snack I think! What to do, what to do? If we would have left the scene the cat would've made his move and ate the little thing. As much as I believe that is nature, I know that a housecat is not exactly aware of dropping numbers in the amount of song birds. I decided to save this little thing from the cat's teeth. Our garden is like a gated community for birds. The cats that have dared to enter it, which is hard, have been scared away by me and there hasn't been one seen for a year now. So I got back in the house to put plastic bags around my hands. There should be no sign of me on that bird. I carefully lifted the baby-bird with a plastic container and moved it in the garden(only 4 meters further, but behind a gate). Strangely it didn't make a sound and just stared at me. When I closed the door and put him on the table he squeaked and hid under two flowerpots. Boyfriend, in the meantime, wasn't in a patient mood and went cycling. I went inside and watched the parents come to the baby and feed it like nothing happened. These pics were taken a day later. Still safe in the garden. Yesterday it was again a little bigger fortunately it still has that baby bill. Click on the image to see the full view of the baby.

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