Be Your Own Birder

Learn to Draw a Cardinal

Drawing can be a great part of birding if you sketch birds in a field notebook as a study record, use drawings to highlight key identification features, or just enjoy drawing and what it teaches you about bird proportions, postures, and sizes. You can even just delight in drawing your favorite birds, and may turn them into stunning artwork for cards, prints, and gifts.

Red Pencils – Photo by Horia Varlan

Northern cardinals, with their classic birdiness and bold lines, are excellent birds for drawing, and once you’ve mastered their basic shapes, you can use similar techniques to draw blue jays, titmice, waxwings, and other fun species. But how do you master cardinal drawing?

Fortunately, there are many great resources to get you started! Each of these cardinal tutorials illustrates the different steps from blank paper to finished drawing on one page (no clicking through multiple slides to see the progress), and each is free to access.

  • Art Projects for Kids – A very easy, simplified cardinal drawing perfect for beginners.
  • Draw Central – Elegant, realistic cardinal on a branch, good for beginners.
  • The Lost Sock – An art teacher’s blog with a simplified back view of a cardinal.
  • Draw and Learn Animals – A stylized, modernist cardinal with fun bird facts with each step.
  • Drawingforall.net – A detailed, realistic northern cardinal with appropriate shading.
  • HTDFC – A quirky comic-style cardinal, easy to customize and good for all ages.

If you prefer video drawing tutorials, there are plenty of options for learning how to draw cardinals as well.

Drawing birds can be an expressive and artistic part of your birding, whether you’re a talented artist or just a doodler. Just like with identifying birds, attracting them to your yard, or knowing where to find them in the field, however, the more practice you get, the more you’ll enjoy your efforts. Happy birding!

Sketched Cardinals – Image by Alex Hiam

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