A sketch is the artist's road map, like a tool for planning your journey. Besides being its own form of art and a record of observations, turning to your sketchbook to work out decisions about your painting before you start can be invaluable.
11 x 14 watercolor on Arches 140# coldpress paper.
Links and resources:
To see the first post on this painting visit: A Northern Harrier Hunting
More information about Northern Harriers at Cornell
More about the use of your sketchbook in creating a painting in: The Richness of Watercolor
You may also enjoy visiting my Purple Martin painting, showing a different approach to painting a bird in its habitat.