BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Wildlife Art -

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...

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