December 14, 2021
By Chelsea Reed
We’re not sure why, but there’s something special about birds wintering here in the Outer Banks. Maybe it’s observing them relaxed and flying free over the wide-open beaches. Or, maybe it’s watching them in the quiet that’s unique to the off-season. Or, perhaps you look forward to photographing certain bird species bathed in the winter sun’s soft glow. Whatever your reasons are, it’s always rewarding to see wild birds enjoying their environment in the chilly air. These Outer Banks bird species are some of many who don’t mind the winter cold!
Anyone who has observed a Carolina Wren can appreciate this etching! The Carolina Wren lives locally year-round. These little guys can look out for themselves just fine in the wild. You might even catch them chasing after a grackle’s tail feathers!
Did you know that the Common Loon can only be spotted in the Outer Banks during the winter? If you’re fortunate enough, you might catch one surfing the ocean waves on a cold day. Thanks to conservation efforts, the once-endangered species is now listed as Least Concern. Let’s keep it that way and continue to enjoy these beauties, like the one in this watercolor painting.
The Snowy Owl is another rare Outer Banks treat to find during the winter. This time, try scoping the sound side forests in the evening. If you hear low and powerful, slightly raspy “hooting,” your journey was a success! This lovely watercolor depicts one up close, and it’s painted with sterling silver.
A brisk winter walk on the beach is a great way to exercise if you’re prepared for it. It’s also an easy way to observe bird plumage in the winter. Many shoreline birds have muted feathers this time of year, like the Sanderlings in Chamblin’s oil painting. This particular group looks like they could use a warm fireplace!
This graphite drawing of a Brown Pelican is another example of coastal plumage changes in the winter. They don’t change much, but just enough to tell with a trained eye. The muted tones provide better camouflage for this bird with the brown foliage and more frequent clouds that are typical in an Outer Banks winter. It’s as if the bird is resting up to get ready for the colorful summer ahead!
Are you inspired by these wintery feathered friends? Try spotting them for yourself as they inhabit our beautiful Ribbon of Sand. Or, you can indulge in more lovely art without stepping out into the cold! Take a look now, or see them in person at Seaside Art Gallery. (And yes, the heater is working.)
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