Birds and fish must be some of the most colourful creatures on the planet. As the daughter of a well-known ornithologist, growing up my home was full of bird books and beautiful naturalist prints on the wall.
I wanted to create my own colourful gallery wall of natural history prints and decided to use the colourful bird naturalist prints of George Shaw for this.
George Shaw was a late 18th-century Oxford-educated English botanist and zoologist. He was among the first scientists to examine a duck pus platypus. He published the first scientific description of it in The Naturalist’s Miscellany in 1799.
The Bird Prints
The Naturalist prints curated here are a selection from George Shaw’s book The Naturalist’s Miscellany also known as Coloured Figures of Natural Objects.
The book is full of amazing colourful scientific illustrations of natural objects. With this curated collection, I have just focused on come of the most colourful bird prints in the book.
The Naturalist Prints
A very colour print of a green peafowl (Burmese). Peacocks must be one of the most colourful birds on the planets, that is why their feathers are so prized.
Peacocks are forest dwelling birds that lay their nests on the ground.
Kingfishers are a family favourite. My father’s first published (1977) ornithological book featured a kingfisher on the cover. The original painting of that cover still hangs in my parent’s home.
The brightness of the blue feathers on a kingfisher is caused by the structure of the feathers, which causes scattering of blue light.
The kingfishers also have long, dagger-like bills.
This woodpecker spends mores of its time at the tops of tall trees in woods. The illustration is of a male, recognizable by its crimson crown, brown forehead, black superciliary stripe, and another from the base of the bill to the neck.
A naturalist illustration of an Indian Lory. Lory’s are parrots that have specialized brush-tipped tongues for feeding on nectar and soft fruits. They can feed from the flowers of about 5,000 species of plants and use their specialized tongues to take the nectar.
Rollers resemble crows in size and build, and share the colourful appearance of kingfishers and bee-eaters.
The term pied describes bird plumage that has large, contrasting patches of bold color, most often in black and white and with clear, distinct edges.
Another wonderful naturalist print of Shaw’s, of a kingfisher.
Chatterers are a group of perching birds that have a chattering cry, hence their name.
Cockatoos are a kind of parrot with prominent crests and curved bills. Their feathers are generally less colourful than that of other parrots, being mainly white, grey or black and often with coloured features in the crest, cheeks or tail.
I assume this bird got its name due to the striking yellow colour of its plumage.
This crow inhabits the islands of the Indian Ocean and is only six to seven inches long.
A naturalist illustration print of a red-billed hoopoe. This bird is about 17 inches long and advertises its presence with its loud distinctive kuk-uk-uk-uk-uk call.
A naturalist print of a variegated finch also known as an elegant finch.
Finches are birds with stout conical bills adapted for eating seeds and often have colourful plumage. They occupy a great range of habitats where they are usually resident and do not migrate.
There is another Shaw illustration in the pelican print collection.
Many of these birds are also featured on this tropical bird series of cigarette cards.
If you enjoyed these bird naturalist prints of George Shaw, don’t forget to check out some of my other wonderful vintage bird illustration collections including these bird nests and eggs.