Winter Red Birds

Day 8 - #WorldWatercolorGroup Winter Red Bird Northern Cardinal on white background

As the weather gets colder, many birds are rushing off to a warmer climate. Something many of us humans wish we could do as well. Perhaps that’s why I’ve always loved the Northern Cardinal, or Red Bird as my family called it, because he always stuck around to freeze his little butt off with us. It’s hard to complain about the cold when a tiny bird a fraction of your size seems undaunted by the drop in temperatures. And I always found this quite comforting. With precious few other birds around in the winter, this showstopping beauty with his fiery red feathers can be seen flying across the winter snow, stopping every so often to sit on a frozen branch. The enhanced contrast with the white of the snowy landscape is gorgeous and one of the reasons that have made this bird into a holiday icon. Well, that and the fact that he’s red, of course.

There’s just something magical about these birds. Despite being incredibly common where I live, seeing one always causes a rush of excitement as though one has just spotted a unicorn. Actually, while visiting my mom in Texas, a story came on television about the famous-at-the-time unicorn named Lancelot. He was the star attraction of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus during the mid-80’s. He was covered in white fur and had a single horn and so people just assumed he must be magical. In reality, it was nothing more than a common billy goat that had its horn fused into one shortly after birth. This has nothing to do with red birds, I know, I’m just easily distracted. Except, I guess, to say that sometimes when we want to believe something is special, it just is. No matter how common it may actually be.

So the sight a red bird during the snowy winter months will always thrill me. One was sitting just outside the door to our snow-covered terrace last year and I stood there staring at it, completely fascinated. Actually it was staring back at me, so we ended up in a staring contest that lasted until he suddenly flew away. I’m not sure how the rules of staring contests work when one of the opponents is actually capable of flight, much less has an extra eyelid, so I had no idea how to declare a winner. But it didn’t really matter. It was just wonderful to experience such a magical moment. A beautiful red visitor to add a little burst of color in the bleak midwinter. Perfectly ordinary, yet suddenly amazing.

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About the Doodlewash

Sennelier L’Aquarelle: Sennelier Red, Red Orange, Burnt Sienna, and Ultramarine Deep. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon with black ink in a little red cloth hardbound l’aquarelle journal I found in a Paris shop.
Day 8 - #WorldWatercolorGroup Winter Red Bird Northern Cardinal on white background
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! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!
Published in By Charlie
28 Comments
  1. kirkistan 10 months ago

    Wow! Love it. We see these guys in our yard. They are such a splash of color flitting about as they do. Nice work.

  2. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 10 months ago

    Beautiful color on this cardinal and lots of detail – well done, Charlie.

  3. Thank you for the reminder of the northern cardinal. The first time I saw one of these boys during a trip to the US I was entranced by its otherworldly beauty. A gorgeous painting, Charlie.

    • Author

      Thanks, Michael! 😃 I bet seeing one for the first time was a fabulous experience. I’ve seen them all my life, but still get excited each time!

  4. artandmoondreams 10 months ago

    Beautiful painting! Your cardinal looks striking, sassy, and with a bit of mischief in its glance. Love these birds and their sweet singing.

    • Author

      Thanks, Haunani! 😃💕 He does seem to have a bit of mischief… hehe… guess he knows he’s rather striking in all that red!

  5. Laura (PA Pict) 10 months ago

    Gorgeous painting. You’ve got the effect of the light on the feathers perfectly. Cardinals visit my bird feeders every day. I love to see them every single time. They look spectacular against the white of the snow in winter.

    • Author

      Thanks so much, Laura! 😃💕 I agree… it just never gets boring seeing a bright red cardinal appear. Beautiful birds!

  6. creatingincolors 10 months ago

    Such great details and stunning color! Cardinals always stop me in my tracks when I see one in our yard.

  7. Carol 10 months ago

    Charlie, because the cardinal flew away, you are the winner. You are also the winner because of this amazing doodlewash! 😍

  8. Jill Kuhn 10 months ago

    We don’t see these birds where I live – yours is spectacular Charlie!! ❤️❤️❤️

    • Author

      Thanks so much, Jill! 😃💕 And you don’t have them? They are soooo prevelant here I almost take them for granted. But they’re so beautiful!

  9. I love these birds, having never seen one in person, so I have to just admire others art work. Yours is superb, what an iconic bird 😀

  10. GeorgieMoon 10 months ago

    Fabulous bird! We don’t get any brightly coloured birds in England, would love to see these in the gardens and parks.

  11. Jodi 10 months ago

    Beautiful!

  12. memadtwo 10 months ago

    They are indeed majestic birds and you’ve captured that. Great job, Charlie! (K)

  13. Jacob 9 months ago

    Stunning colour in this one, I think you did the cardinal justice. And I can only sit in envy at your many sightings of these beautiful birds! I can imagine how impressive they’d look in the snow.

    I know it’s a lively piece, but I was a bit taken aback just then, as I was sure the light in his eye was moving… but it’s that falling snow effect 😛 Oops!

    • Author

      Thanks, Jacob! 😃 hehe… that’s awesome!! It’s like it was alive for a moment then. well… also a bit creepy I guess. Figured the falling snow effect was worth turning on for a bit since it’s the Winter Wonderland theme.

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