Being Self-Aware

Magpie Bird Self Aware Looking In Mirror Watercolor Painting Illustration

For our prompt of “Magpie” today, I have to admit that I wasn’t very familiar with this bird so I had to do a bit of research. I’ve never previously sketched one. As it turns out, scientists have discovered that magpies can actually recognize themselves in a mirror. While this might not seem like an incredible feat for us humans, it marked the first time this type of self-recognition was observed in a creature of the non-mammalian variety. So, I ended up with a little magpie stopping to take in its own natural beauty. Like so many things in nature, we’re still learning that humans aren’t the only creatures who possess certain skills. And while self-recognition is a wonderful thing to observe in animals, we’ve no way of really knowing if they’re truly self-aware. Whether they possess a conscious knowledge of their own character, feelings, motives, and desires. Indeed, knowing all of those things for absolute certain can sometimes seem like a daunting task, even for humans. But, I like to imagine that magpies are aware of these things and might just have some lessons to share with us.

When I was younger, I would often struggle with figuring out who I really was, or at least, what I wanted to become in life. I dreamed of the most incredible things. Things I really thought would come true, simply because I believed that they would with all of my heart. My story was all written and I was excited to start the next chapter. As I got older, I also kept thinking that I had it all figured out, only to have life change in an unexpected way and challenge all of my confidence on that front. As I get even older, I realize that actually knowing what I want to be when I grow up is overrated, and it’s quite possible I might die without ever really figuring it out. What I stick to instead is simply a far easier approach. I just tune into my joy and follow it wherever it leads. What makes me truly happy? And how can I make more of that happy happen? Yep, the same approach a child might take, but that’s how I choose to approach my life.

And it’s once again Friday, so it’s time for another lovely weekend, and of course, pizza night! This is one of those little things that definitely brings me lots of joy. My dog Phineas isn’t a huge fan of pizza night, however, since he feels like he should get some as well and not simply his usual treats. After all, a family night should be special for the entire family. I think we’re planning a popcorn movie night soon, so he’ll simply have to wait for that. For the record, they say that dogs can’t recognize themselves in the mirror, but with mine, I’m never entirely sure. I’ve caught Phineas admiring his reflection on more than one occasion. Perhaps, he doesn’t realize it’s him, but the admiration for that wildly attractive dog he’s viewing is unmistakable. Indeed, I truly believe that knowing what pleases you is certainly a wonderful start down the path to being self-aware.

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Magpie Bird Self Aware Looking In Mirror Watercolor Painting Illustration Sketchbook Detail
Recommended5 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
33 Comments
  1. alaskabirder 4 months ago

    I like that you painted a Yellow-billed Magpie, which is only found in certain parts of California. They are smart looking birds with that yellow bill, as compared to the more ubiquitous Black-billed Magpie. I too chose a yellow-billed Magpie to paint.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 months ago

      Thanks so much! 😃💕 Yeah, I liked the yellow beak best as it’s more interesting!

  2. Karen Fortier 4 months ago

    Fabulous Charlie and I did not know that! I hope you enjoy your pizza night. I had an interesting day and was filmed in my studio painting a watercolor for a segment on a show being put together about our little city for public TV. The show is really about the new mayor and city council members who are much younger then those of the past. The fellow who was here filming was covering local artists and some of our video might be used as background to the actual interviews. Maybe I’ll be on tv! His daughter is a developing artist so I mentioned Doodlewash as a potential for them to explore.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 months ago

      Thanks so much, Karen! 😃💕 Oh wow! That’s so cool! I hope you’re on TV, that would be so awesome!! And thanks for the mention!

  3. Mary Roff 4 months ago

    Have a wonderful weekend, Charlie! “Date night” here…streaming a movie and something to eat that I don’t have to cook. Tonight it was a “Monster Club” sandwich I picked up at a small restaurant that is struggling to stay open (after 50 years) and a huge salad that my husband made. Delicious sandwich and one sandwich was enough for both of us tonight and still some leftover for lunch. Nice start to the weekend.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 months ago

      Thanks so much, Mary! 😃💕 Aww yay that you had “date night”! Sounds fun! Those are kind of what Friday’s are for us. It’s always such a beautiful way to start the weekend indeed!

  4. writerleenda 4 months ago

    Hi Charlie, Not so long ago there was a video wherein they put a mirror in the jungle and noted the animals’ reactiions to their own image. Some are smarter than others — forget now which is which. Hilarious to watch. Maybe google it and see if it comes up.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 months ago

      Yeah, there’s only a handful of animals who can actually recognize themselves in the reflections, but they all seem rather fascinated. hehe… I’ll have to look that up! 😃💕

  5. Lisa 4 months ago

    I didn’t decide what to become until I was out of college. Then I decided to become a librarian. I might have become a chef, or a writer, or even an artist. But I did all of them as hobbies, so I guess I did become all of them.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 months ago

      So true! We are whatever we DO! So yeah, no need to choose just one! 😉 💕

  6. Sandra Strait 4 months ago

    One of my mastiffs used to spend lots of time looking at his reflection in the glass cabinet we had. I’m not sure he ever realized it was himself, because he always seemed puzzled. He was always so aware of what was around him. If there was a strange car in the neighborhood or someone made a change to their yard – moving bushes,etc., he’d always stop when we went for our walks, just to check it out.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 months ago

      Yeah, they say dogs can’t recognize themselves, but their curiosity never wanes! Phineas is always on the case like he’s about to unravel a mystery. hehe 😉

  7. Eduardo Cabrera Campos 4 months ago

    Fascinante, Charlie, me gusto

  8. memadtwo 4 months ago

    I think this is one of my favorites of all your watercolors. (L

  9. Priscilla DeConti 4 months ago

    What a fabulous painting…and I agree doing what you love is getting to self awareness..God bless and enjoy your pizza and your weekend!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 months ago

      Thanks so much, Priscilla! 😃💕 Hope you’re having a fabulous weekend!

  10. Sharon Nolfi 4 months ago

    Magpies, Crows, and Jays are all corvids, I believe. That family has the most intelligent birds. Beautiful refection in the mirror!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 months ago

      Thanks so much, Sharon! 😃💕 Yep… that’s one smart bird family indeed!

  11. Gary Middleton 4 months ago

    Nice doodle, Charlie.

  12. Marisela Delgado 4 months ago

    So beautiful, Charlie. Just gorgeous! I love how you painted the mirror! 😊 I laughed imagining Phineas admiring himself in the mirror. He sounds like a super smart dog so I think he knows that he’s hot! haha Monster was afraid of the mirror, but I watched a nature show on PBS , where they placed a mirror in the pool where dolphins were kept. They flocked to look at themselves. The adolescents, though, would gather in groups to look at themselves and appeared to admire and laugh at themselves. It was so cute and funny.
    I agree with you. You just need to live the moment that you are in because life can change super quick. Those changes may sometimes be scary or unwelcome, but they can lead to fabulous endings. 😊

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 months ago

      Thanks so much, Marisela! 😃💕 Aww yes! Dolphins can actually recognize themselves… such smart and cool creatures! And true, twists and turns are what we always wish for in a good story!

  13. Tom 4 months ago

    Apparently, Charlie, with magpies, if you make friends with them, they remain friends for life. Give them a chance and they give you one. They are very clever birds.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 months ago

      That’s awesome! I love that! 😃💕 Oh, they have a lot they could teach us it sounds like!

  14. LoriCtoo 4 months ago

    Yet another wonderful sketch! I love him looking in a mirror! I know cats don’t recognize themselves. When our cat was a kitten, she would scare herself when she walked by the mirror. So funny, forgot about that. Now she just doesn’t care because she knows she’s queen of the house. It is going to be 102 here today, We have to go to our niece’s outdoor wedding at 4:00 p.m……our hottest time of the day. I have been dreading this for weeks!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 months ago

      Thanks so much, Lori! 😃💕 hehe… yeah, cats have no clue it’s them. I got lost watching videos of cats looking at themselves in mirrors once! lol Oh wow! That’s way too hot! But hope the wedding was lovely!

  15. Mugdha 4 months ago

    Hello Charlie,

    Lovely Doodlewash as usual and thank you for teaching me a new thing today! As far as not knowing what I want to become goes, like you, I knew what I wanted, then life happened and Im back to knowing what I want to do next. The only hurdle is I dont know and cant see what I can do to step in that direction. So, I’ve decided to continue believing in magic as I’ve always done and wait for the path to appear. Hopefully it’ll show itself soon. Fingers crossed!

    Love,
    Mugdha

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 months ago

      Thanks so much, Mugdha! 😃💕 Aww I think you’re on just the right path then. If you really want to DO something, then just keep doing it and that magic glittering in the distance will get closer and closer!

  16. Christine Srikala 3 months ago

    Hi Charlie, Christine from Australia. Beautiful work. Do you have a patreon page where we can download the line drawing and follow you painting? I know you work as well & busy. It can uploaded once a week and could just be a simple video with no voice over.
    Ps: is the activity book sold online as a pdf?

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks so much, Christine! 😃💕 I don’t have a Patreon page or do videos currently. I just can’t find the time to do that on a regular basis and still practice my writing and art! The Activity books are currently only available in a printed form, but they have all my little tips in them!

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