BELOW The goldcrest is Europe’s smallest bird and has an expression all of its own. Its charm comes not only from its tiny size but also from the fact that the eye is isolated in a pale area and the well-marked corners of the bill point downwards. The male’s central crown feathers are more orange-red, though can be hard to see in the field. But they are exposed during song and territorial displays, as in one of my paintings here – the other shows a female bird.
BOTTOM If you watch a rook in light wind, it is often as if the feathers are lifted by the breeze and the wing looks a little ‘looser’. This creates interesting shadow effects for an artist. Their featherless face adds a human characteristic, too.
RIGHT If the greenfinch can be said to be the finches’ unskilled labourer, then the siskin is the methodical mechanic whose bill is a precision tool for picking seeds out of cones, especially those of spruce and alder. Siskins are much smaller than greenfinches and they move acrobatically, hanging and climbing in all directions. They’re genial, energetic and vivacious.
ABOVE The waxwing breeds in the taiga in older coniferous forest, often slightly swampy spruce forest mixed with birch. Its plumage depicts its northern landscape. A thousand shades of grey in lichens, birch trunks and spruce branches are set against the deep rusty-red crowberry shrubs. The black bog water provides sharp contrast against yellow marsh marigolds and white cotton-grass. BELOW The brambling forms a ‘speciespair’ with the chaffinch. I live in a migration corridor from Finland and west Russia, where bramblings migrate past in October and, on their return journey, in April. In October they are in perfect winter plumage and it is a joy to watch them. I am fascinated by their fantastic patterns and colour range, like a bunch of autumn leaves in brown, orange and yellow.
LARS JONSSON was born in Sweden in 1952 and lives on the Baltic island of Gotland. He is an ornithologist and one of the world’s leading bird artists. He has illustrated and written many books, and this feature is based on work from his latest: Winter...