Do you recognize this bird? It's a yellowhammer (aka, Northern Flicker) and it's the state bird of Alabama. And, as it turns out, it's a strange choice for Alabama's state bird. Nevertheless, it has been the state bird since 1927 and is a big deal in the Yellowhammer State.
I painted my yellowhammer exclusively with q-tips rather than brushes. Since they don't hold much paint and are less flexible than brushes, you end up with short strokes and streaks of color that resemble the yellowhammer's unique coloration. Give it a try!
- microtip scissors
- Folk Art paint
Lightly sketch the yellowhammer's body on a piece of chipboard. I chose to simplify the feet by just showing the leg. When you are happy with your sketch, cut it out.
Using q-tips, apply black paint to the beak, front of the head, chest, legs, and along the wing. Apply yellow to the back of the head, along the belly, and down the tail. While the paint is still wet, apply a sand color over the top to blend the colors, skipping the beak, legs, and the tail.
Use a rusty orange to define the shape of the wing. Add the same color along the cheek area, on the upper leg area, and on the back of the head. Make sure to move the q-tip in the direction the feathers would be going (for example, from the top of the wing to the tip, not horizontally across the wing).
Come back in with some yellow on the face, covering most of the rust-colored streak. Add yellow to the chest. Remember, you want the colors to be streaky and blended. Let the paint dry completely.
Use a clean q-tip to add a patch of white to the yellowhammer's neck and a subtle highlight to the lower belly. Finally, add a black patch to the top of the head, an eyeball, and a streak on the cheek. Outline the wing, the white patch on the chest, and the tail. Add tiny black dots to the belly (barely touch the q-tip to the yellowhammer) and horizontal bars on the wing and tail.
While researching Alabama's yellowhammers, I learned a lot of interesting facts. Unlike many other woodpeckers, yellowhammers only hammer into rotting or hollow wood. They nest in trees, but mainly forage on the ground for insects and seeds. Some of their favorites include ants, termites, and grasshoppers. I also learned that there is another species bird known as a yellowhammer that is native to Eurasia and a member of the bunting family.