Between 1827 and 1830 Lear was introduced to the natural history illustrator Prideaux Selby by an aquaintance Mrs Wentworth and it is thought that he served an unofficial apprenticeship with the artist. Lear executed 17 drawings as a gift to Mrs Wentworth. These vignettes executed in pencil with the birds coloured in watercolour were generally of unidentifiable, imagined birds. The present drawing is a very similar work and is likely to have been executed about the same time. For an example of such drawings and a discussion of Lear's early work see V. Noakes, The Painter Edward Lear, Newton Abbot, 1991, p. 33.