Missouri Bluebird by Charlie O'Shields

For my Draw A Bird Day entry (hosted by my lovely friend Laura at Create Art Everyday), I’m continuing with my hometown tour by introducing you to the Missouri state bird. Meet the Eastern bluebird, which was designated as the state bird in 1927 (it’s also the state bird of New York but not until 1970… we’re such trendsetters here).

The Eastern bluebird is a medium sized songbird with a short tail, rounded head, short black bill, a reddish-orange chest, and brilliant blue wings and tail (Cobalt Blue and Cadmium Orange with a hit of Burnt Sienna in the case of my little doodlewash). This is only my second time drawing a bird, the first time was a rooster, but I really enjoyed drawing one so I’m hoping to try more!

As is often the case in birdland the male gets the fancier colors, and I love that in order to attract the female, this little guy performs a “Nest Demonstration Display.” He basically just brings nest material to the hole, goes in and out, and perches above it waving his wings around. This is his only contribution to nest building, much like many human males when moving into a new home.

Populations of these birds declined in the 70’s, when I was a kid, so it was very rare to actually see one. Thankfully they’ve been coming back over the years and their numbers are increasing (thanks in large part to the popularity of nest box campaigns). I’ve always loved these birds and you can spot them from a distance when the sun shines through their blue wings in flight. I hope you like him too!

Posted by:Charlie O'Shields (doodlewash)

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world!

32 replies on “Missouri Bluebird

  1. Charlie, this is beautiful and you totally nailed the colors! Really love it! You did a wonderful job. Glad you joined in again! This is one of my favorite birds. My husband built some boxes especially for them so we always seem to have them in our yard. We live in the sticks though, farm country. We’re lucky to have different kinds of birds. Really enjoyed your painting, Charlie!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, I think he started building them when he heard their numbers were declining. We’ve had a pair in our yard not long after, and ever since. Could be a different pair, but they’re lovely to watch, whoever they are. Gorgeous when they fly, as you said.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What a beauty Charlie! Tell me – do you sketch first then paint or vice versa ? And do you ever ketch first in pencil? Trying to find the best way for me and wondering how others do it. I would be so excited to see a bluebird. I think I need to see if hubby can build a house to attract them. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! Build the house!! Hehe… I usually always just sketch in pen first and then add watercolor as I did with this one. For some subjects with lots of soft lines I’ll start in pencil then go over it with pen and erase the pencil marks. If I’m just doing a doodlewash in mainly watercolor and the scene doesn’t seem to want ink (lots of organic shapes) I’ll use pencil only and then go straight to watercolor. I’ve only attempted watercolor only a couple times, but that’s another option. It’s just about experimenting. My favorite way is ink only and watercolor, but anything you love will work! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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