Common Yellowthroat, 2021, colored pencil

While I’m pretty sure you’ve heard about #inktober, you may not be familiar with its kissing cousin, #Birdtober. #Birdtober also runs during the month of October and is rapidly growing in popularity.

In this post, you’ll learn how to have a fun, productive, and great #birdtober2021!

Choose your #Birdtober Prompt List (or Make Your Own)

Like #inktober, #birdtober is a hashtag challenge. For 2021, there are two prompt lists by different artists—Andrea Holmes (the originator of the #birdtober hashtag; @aholmesartstudio) and Kayla Fisk (@kaylafishbirds).

Brown Creeper; Wikimedia Commons; small brown bird perched on side of tree

The prompts range from specific, like Brown Creeper, to very broad (Australia, Favorite Bird or Goose, for example).

Needless to say, with this many options it’s easy to find fun bird to draw and paint. But you’re certainly not stuck with following the prompts! This year, I made my own list based on what I, as a bird artist, want to accomplish in my own practice.

Set Your #Birdtober Goals

Like any many days long art challenge, it’s important to know what you want to get out of it. Do you want to grow your Instagram audience? Improve your drawing skills? Sustain a daily practice?

Hashtag challenges can turn into chores if you don’t really have a good handle on your goals! I suggest you set your own rules, so to speak.

My rules for #birdtober2021 include that it’s ok to miss a day without stress, any kind of drawing of the birds on my list count toward the challenge, and I don’t have to post to Instagram if I don’t want to.

Not only have I made my own prompt list, I decided in advance that I was going to do only three fully realized illustrations for the month. That way, I can keep the quality of my work high and the stress level low.

Track Down Your Photo Reference

Now that you know what you’re doing and why, it’s time to track down some quality photo reference for birds!

Two of the best sources for high quality bird images for artists are

Share Your #Birdtober Artwork

One of the most fun parts of #Birdtober is meeting other bird artists! You can share your work with the hashtags #Birdtober and #Birdtober2021 — and be sure to follow those hashtags to find other artists’ work to admire. And don’t forget to like, comment, and share! These are the ways we help and support each other.

I’ll be posting to my Instagram stories as well as my feed using #tarakatebirdtober. And you can see me in action on my vlog, The Bird Artist’s Cottage. In this video, you can watch me painting my first illustration of #birdtober2021, Vaux’s Swift.

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