Birds of Paradise

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Birds of Paradise:
Mike Wood provides a guide for carving a trio of Wilson’s birds of paradise.

Mike Wood provides a guide for carving a trio of Wilson’s birds of paradise

Wilson’s bird of paradise (Cicinnurus respublica synonym Diphyllodes respublica) lives in Indonesia and sadly is on the IUCN Red List as near threatened and the population is decreasing. Both male and female grow to a size of between 140mm and 160mm and the male is heavier than the female by a few grams or so. Interestingly, the blue crown area on the top of the head of these birds is not feathered – it is skin. The mature male of the species is the most highly coloured, exhibiting a vast array of hues depending on how viewed in the light. It is worth doing your research to truly get a better insight into their beauty and learn a bit more about them before trying to make them, but do use the patterns and images supplied here to give you a helping hand.

Carving the birds
The body for both male and female is effectively the same, it is just the colouring that is different. Whether you carve by hand or by power is up to you. Once the main body form is shaped, use a pyrography unit to burn in the feather details then coat with white gesso before applying the paint. The feet can be bought online or you can make your own. The most difficult part of making these is when trying to create the extended tail feathers, the rectrices, on the male. Do not create these in wood as they will break. Instead, take some ram’s horn, shape it lengthwise then heat/steam bend it to create the curly section. Of course, take precautions and wear protective equipment when working with heat or steam.

Colouring the birds
For the male: The blue on the head is cobalt. Napthol crimson light is used to create the red on the back and secondaries and all edgings. The yellow on the nape is cadmium yellow light. All black areas are true black. The breast is painted black and dry edged with iridescent green. The carpal (wrist ) is raw sienna edged with raw sienna and white. The central tail sickles are painted pale violet with a small amount of iridescent violet added. The feet are cobalt blue with a small amount of ultramarine blue added to darken it. The fine lines on top of head are black feathers on the bare skin.

For the female: Cobalt blue is used for the head. The female‘s back, wings and tail are dark brown. The secondaries are edged with burnt sienna, the lores and bill are black. All of the underside is pale buff and the barred areas are done with raw umber.

Different views of the birds for reference when applying colour 

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