Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Watercolor: Forster's Tern

Okay, I have to do a repost of the tern study. Orignally I had posted about the collaborative project between the GNSI Finger Lakes chapter and The Audubon Society and Cornell Lab of Ornithology which will culminate in an exhibit of Common Birds in Decline. I contacted the photographer who took the photo I used as a reference for a study of the Common Tern for permission. She gave me permission and then thought maybe she should check around with some of her birding expert friends. Turns out, the photo she took listed on the site as a Common Tern, is really a Forster's Tern. There are slight differences, but differences to be sure and science illustration is about accuracy. Tail length, plummage, beak length,...and more...are critical in distinguishing a species. (There are 20 or so species of terns) According to Bill Thompson, author of Identify Yourself: The 50 Most Common Birding Identification Challenges, terns are among the 50. Ken Kaufman, who wrote the foreward, writes,

" There will always be challenges in identifying birds and that's the way I like it. If the birds all wore name tags, if it never took more than a glance to identify them, a little bit of the plaeasure would be gone."

I knew I was going to learn a lot when I started this project. So, I have a nice study of a Forster's Tern:) When we return to the Lab of O to draw again I will ask the curators for a Common Tern and a Forster's Tern to see the differences up close and personal. Stay tuned.

No comments: