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‘Wherever I Am, I Am Always Birding’

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This week, for the New York Times summer birding project, we invite birders of all experience levels to try their hand at drawing a bird. You can do this from life or from a photograph. Try to produce at least one sketch in the upcoming week using any medium you wish. Share it with us by emailing

You don’t need to spend hours honing your illustration (unless you want to). As the master illustrator David Sibley, of the widely popular Sibley field guides, describes in the interview below, the most important aspect of drawing a bird may just be that it changes how you see.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Do you have any formal training in illustration?

No, I am self-taught.

I should say that I don’t consider myself really an artist as much as a scientific illustrator. I am trying to convey information, and it’s all about the details of the bird: the shape, the posture, the colors, the patterns. The outline is the most important part; if that’s right, everything else sort of falls into place, and it’s just like a coloring book.


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