Birdswatch: Great British Bird Colours Print

The RSPB's bird guild lists 266 birds. Although we see some birds on a daily basis, many are uncommon, limited to small areas or infrequent seasonal visitors. Although there are countless bird guides, I couldn't find anything that gave an overview of their most basic visual characteristic: their colours. By capturing their colours I wanted to give people another way to think about these animals, as individual and en masse. Because the colours of many birds are a form of communication the result is a kind of language. It is also geographic in nature: the birds are engineered for the landscape they inhabit so in one sense it is a map of the environments that make up the UK.  

I'm now selling an A3 Giclée print on Hahnemühle Photo Rag Bright White paper, showing a colour swatch for 266 of the UK's birds, along with their names printed onto an A3 sheet of vellum that can be overlaid to help identify each species. You can find it here.

I also offer a version that comes with a print of the bird names so they can be displayed alongside the print of colours. You can find it here.

10% of my profits on selling this print will be donated to the RSPB.

The design was created using a series of hand-built programmes that downloaded and analysed images of birds. The process involved four stages:

1. I wrote a programme to download an image of every bird featured in the RSPB's online bird guide along with their name and latin name.

2. I digitally extracted each bird from its background to make sure the background colour didn't effect the next step.

3. I wrote another programme that used a web API to perform a statistical analysis of the colours within each image, resulting in a set of the seven most common colours from the image for every bird.

4. I wrote another programme that took the colours, laid them out and created a print-ready PDF along with a second PDF containing the bird names.

My Etsy shop can be found here