What I Discovered About Myself Today–And Two New Paintings

Today my husband and I got up at 0’darkhundred, jumped in the car at 5:40 a.m. and headed North to Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, about an hour and a half from our home, to join a group of people for their weekly 8 a.m. bird walk.  We have talked about going up there for years and finally bit the bullet.  I discovered this–I’m a real bird-watcher!!

I know that sounds odd to write on a blog called The Bird Watcher, but it’s true.  Oddly, I’m the kind of person who usually doubts something about myself until I’ve had affirmation or permission to be that person.  For example–in 1995 I took an intro to drawing class–free credits, I was working for the University.  I discovered I knew how to draw.  I remember when the teacher was showing us how to look for shapes and masses and compare distance, values, etc. and all the sudden I thought to myself–“I already do that!”  That’s when I learned to trust myself drawing and that I knew what I was doing naturally.  Almost everything I do in life has been a process of giving myself permission to be or do what comes naturally.  Today was no different.  Somehow I’ve thought I didn’t really know what I was doing when it came to bird watching.  As an adult I’ve never been with a group bird watching.  I tend to like to do those things alone, so somehow I figured I wasn’t a real bird watcher–but I am ALWAYS watching birds.

B is for Belted Kingfisher--in progress.
B is for Belted Kingfisher–in progress.

So today as we headed out to the orchard area of the refuge I was thinking to myself, “This looks like home.”  Then people began exclaiming, “There’s an Anna’s! Look, another!  Up there is a downy woodpecker and the next limb over a flicker–I’ve never had a flicker and a downy in my binoculars at the same time!”. . . I’m thinking to myself (I do a lot of thinking to myself), “I see flickers and nuthatches and spotted towhee’s and robins and juncos, etc. . . all the time together.”  One day I watched a hawk fly through our feeder station, flush the birds and slam against the window with one in its talons.  That’s serious bird watching!

Later on, I was walking along with the gentleman leading the group, taking him to see the Virginia rail he’d missed and talking to him about the great horned owl we’d just seen. I began to bemoan the fact that I can’t seem to ever see owls.  He was saying that he struggled with it as well and that one had to “think like an owl–owls are quiet and usually cuddled up against a trunk”–as he continued to describe his birding technique he said that he sees movement and hears sounds and that’s how he finds the birds–again, the light bulb came on.  I realized he was describing exactly what I do and I discovered–I am indeed a bird watcher.  I do what they do, I love what they love and I know way more then I give myself credit for and what I don’t know I do research and try to find the answer.  I also discovered–I want a spotting scope–a serious one!

Enough about bird watching–I started the Belted Kingfisher yesterday and got it almost finished today.  It’s a little like that crazy Steller’s Jay and giving me some fits.  The bird I painted today, start to finish, is the little Downy Woodpecker.  This little feller has been destroying the trim on the side of our house.  I will go out and scold him, telling him that he is destroying our house and he will just look down at me, hop to the other side and start pecking.  He is so cute I hate to scare him off but I’ve discovered he is not affected by me shooing him away to badly because he’s right back hammering away.  Yesterday I heard it out there and decided that the least I could do is get a picture of him and use him in this series.  So, this was him, in between hammering away I’d talk to him and he’d look around with this cute little innocent face and my heart just skipped a beat.

D is For Down Woodpecker
D is For Downy Woodpecker


  1. Jill says:

    B is also for Bush Tit!!!! Hint Hint….maybe not so good for Tit!

    1. kmcgheeart says:

      So Jill, are you saying you want me to paint a Bush Tit? I actually thought about it but don’t have any good reference pictures of one. I’ll be painting more of these as time goes on and for sure a Bush Tit. Till then, I must get on with the rest of the alphabet 😉

  2. These are both beautiful, I have a Downey Woodpecker in my Backyard.

    1. kmcgheeart says:

      Hopefully the downy stays off your house. 😀

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