Wearing a bird costume for Halloween is great and all, but if you really want to up your game, you'll need to pick a species and be true to its form. In case you need a little help to get you started, look no further than this Bohemian Waxwing-inspired makeup video.
The 10-minute beauty tutorial, made for Audubon by Canadian paleontologist Lisa Buckley, guides you through the color palette and application tricks needed to recreate the bird’s distinctive facial pattern. Buckley’s full-time work involves birds: She studies fossilized avian tracks, has been an avid birder for years, and is known among her friends for her ID skills. In fact, a friend who noted the smoky-eyed looks of Short-eared Owls was what inspired Buckley to first venture into bird beauty. This is her latest installment in her “Bird Glamour” blog and Twitter series—and the final effect is pretty spot on. Past featured species have included the Atlantic Puffin, Blue Jay, Anna's Hummingbird, and Secretary Bird.
Buckley certainly isn’t the only makeup artist to venture into the territory of bird costuming; but she’s intentional with all her adaptations, focusing on the finer field marks of the birds to be both accurate and educational. “I want to showcase each species and give them their due,” she says. Even drab birds can be fascinating when you learn about why their colors are evolutionarily muted, she says. Other species, like the Short-eared Owl, may defy the abilities of makeup. “It helps if you have yellow eyes,” Buckley says, “but that’s something owls do best.”
As she points out in this video, her imitation of the Bohemian Waxwing is based largely off photo research. If you want to be geographically accurate, you can also use the same makeup for a Cedar Waxwing costume, with minor changes to your tail, belly, and wing feathers. And if bird face paint just isn’t your thing, that’s okay, too: Our columnist The Birdist has some ideas for fun costumes that don't require a steady hand.