Wednesday, June 25, 2008


As a child in grade school I made a silhouette of my likeness more than once. The teacher would sit us near the board, shine the light of an overhead projector on our head and trace our profile on a piece of paper. We cut out the shape, traced it onto black construction paper and then mounted it on another background. The finished projects would then be displayed on the walls around the room. Before cameras were invented, silhouette artists would be hired to create inexpensive portraits of people.

I create silhouettes of objects with my camera quite by accident. Birds do not always perch in convenient places and taking a picture into the light is sure to create results like these. Do you recognize these birds?

This bird was vocalizing loudly and fanning its tail feathers near a pond along the river. A thunderstorm was moving in quickly and the light in the sky was variable.

Here is another bird that was also making a lot of noise as it sang a metallic sounding song.

This bird moved around in the tree tops and was hidden by leaves most of the time. As it came out into the open I snapped this picture. I could identify it with my binoculars, but the camera missed the colour and details.

As interesting as silhouettes are, I prefer to see the full picture. But identifying birds has to be done by sound or shape sometimes...skills I definitely need to practice more often.

Answers: Male Red-winged Blackbird, Grey Catbird, Baltimore Oriole, Cedar Waxwing


  1. I love this post--so many way to identify birds--not just color but shape, location, and sound. Isn't it great that there is so much to learn.

  2. I love the silhouettes. I'm going to try to capture some myself. I have a long learning curve on identifying by shape and sound.

  3. Silhouettes are the life of birders! We probably see so many bird silhouettes than colorful ones! Bravo

  4. My sister has a painted silhouette mural on her barn of 2 cowboys on their horses. It's makes a great picture as do your birds. So I'm going to take a stab at guessing them, probably will be wrong but no harm in trying 1st Red-Wing Black bird, 2nd A Robin(I love their singing voices) 3rd i don't have a guess, looks like a hawk type bird, but could be just the way it is perched. Whether I'm right or wrong, they are delightful to look at. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Sadly, I am better at shape than with sound. I really need to bone up on my bird call skills. I remember those silhouettes well as a kid.

  6. Anonymous7:42 am GMT-4

    I just saw the answers on the bottom of the post. I had one right. I think I'm better at quessing with sound too. The third one I would have never guess Oriole by the size. It was fun. I'll keep practicing.

  7. Beth- Thanks. I am also glad that there is lots more for me to learn.

    NCMW- I needs to find an easy to use field guide to sounds. Sometimes I record a sound on my camera and then try and find a match on the Cornell website. But it is very time consuming.

    Monarch- I am glad someone else has the same experience. I thought all birds just flew right to you :-)

    Cheryl- You are a good sport. I would have guessed crow for the first, but you are right with the RWBB. The next was a Catbird (what Lynne called the R2D2 bird) then a Baltimore Oriole (seen near the Pioneer Tower).
    Silhouettes are popular in folk art. I have seen one or two barns painted with them...very nice.

    Jayne- So your teachers did silhouettes too. We all are flattered somewhat by our likeness.

  8. I just like looking at them, so full colour works for me.

  9. This is a lovely post and one that I instantly identify with for often I was the teacher who introduced silhouette making to my students. They also loved doing them and it was always with such amazing results.

    I wonder if your first silhouette is of a Red-winged Blackbird?..and the second of a warbler perhaps? maybe Yellow?

    Glad that you enjoyed the Porcupine on my post this morning and yes, I have seen some amazing examples of quill work here in NB as well. Thank you for your comments.

  10. I have a framed silhouette picture of one of my sons hanging on the wall. It was done in his kindergarten year and is a sweet memory of how he appeared in profile at age 5. I thought the teacher did a marvelous job of producing these special pictures, and I admired her patience.

    I like the bird silhouettes, as well. The photos are very pretty.

    P.S. Thanks for stopping by my "new addition" and being the first to comment. I've just realized that I chose the same template as yours but in 'blue'. Hope you don't mind. April.

  11. Ruth,

    What lovely silhouettes you've made with your camera. They are most interesting to look at, but like you, I prefer the full picture. Your photos are always interesting and your words always makes me feel as if I'm standing next to you seeing exactly what you are seeing.

    I wish I had more time to get out into nature, but with all that's going on here, my wildlife viewing and bird watching time is limited. However, I can always find something in nature here and it is always balm for the soul.


  12. Woo Hoo! I guessed correctly on the first two! Surprising to me. Question, I heard a bird in a wooded area where there was a cat. She was verbally chewing that cat out. She sounded a LOT like a house wren, but it wasn't a house wren. She sounded big then a wren. Any idea what it might be? I'm in NE Kansas. Thanks!

  13. AC- Full colour is my preference too.

    Ann- Thanks for dropping by. The answers are in tiny print under the post. Making silhouettes in school was always enjoyed by the students.

    April- I have my daughters' hand prints in plaster of paris from early grade school, but that is all. They grew so fast...

    Mary- Hope you are feeling better soon. This weekend's weather does not look very promising for outdoor activities.

    Julie- Thanks for commenting. I am really poor at IDing bird sounds. I have bought one CD of bird songs, but it is for North America. I need to narrow down to birds on our region. Sorry I cannot help you...birds often have more than one call. When I watched a Red-winged blackbird attack a crow, it made a sound I had never heard before. It was far different from the spring mating song.

  14. I really like that first bird pic (the one that's fanning its tail).


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