A good reference book for artists is Laws Guide to Drawing Birds. It will answer many of your questions and give you plenty of models. Looking at photos of birds can actually be confusing since that snapshot moment in time may not show you clearly what's going on. My teacher I-Hsiung Ju has several bird videos available here. He shows you how to paint them in Chinese brush style.
And when you've done all that practice? Take heart! It takes courage, but bit by bit you will triumph!