The paintings listed below are current pieces I have available. Please click the arrow on the photo for a description and price.
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Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors)
I love painting covers and frontispieces for journals and other publications about birds and this is just such a painting showing a perky little duck, the Blue-winged Teal. It is found as a nesting species from Alaska east to Nova Scotia, and south through much of Canada and the U.S., particularly in the interior. It belongs to a group of species that share various features and are collectively called “pond ducks” or “dabbling ducks” (as opposed to “diving ducks” and “sea ducks”). One of those features is the ability to spring up out of the water, as I have shown these birds, two males and a female, doing. Diving ducks tend to flap and run along the surface of the water, getting airborne less quickly. This image is to be used as a cover for the 100th anniversary issue of Ontario Birds. We wanted something that related to one of the articles inside (about native ducks) but also symbolized the enthusiastic upward, onward thrust of the Ontario Field Ornithologists, which publishes the journal quarterly. I kept it simple to allow room for print around the images, and somewhat backlit to make to be more dramatic, while blurring the wings and softening the outlines and features to suggest motion. These ducks nest in ponds, marshes and sloughs, are very closely related to neighbouring Cinnamon Teal (A. cyanoptera) and Northern Shovelers (A. clypeata), with all three species occurring in the prairies, and all three having very similar, nearly identical, wing patterns and female plumages, although the adult males are strikingly different in their respective breeding plumages. The differences tend to blur a little when you look some other species of shoveler from other parts of the globe, especially the Cape Shoveler (A. smithii) of southern Africa, in which the breeding plumage male seems to have a blend of colours and markings from the three North American species (although the Northern Shoveler is also well-distributed in Eurasia, with some wintering in Africa, and the Cinnamon Teal’s range extends deep into South America). Where I live, in southern Ontario near the north shore of Lake Ontario, the Blue-winged Teal is the most commonly encountered, and they nest near where I live. We also see Northern Shovelers but the Cinnamon Teal is a great rarity this far east. In winter Blue-winged Teal migrate into the southern U.S., Mexico and Central America and the West Indies, and into the northern half of South America. They are small, weighing from about 270 to 410 grams (9 and a half to 14 and half ounces). They nest on the ground, the nest typically very well hidden amid thick vegetation, often under a willow or other shrub, and they lay about 8 to 11 eggs that take three to four weeks to hatch. Typical of the “dabblers” they feed on or near the surface, sometimes “tipping up” but rarely diving. While they nest in fresh water wetlands, during migration and, especially winter, they may sometimes be encountered in brackish, or even salt, water, including amid mangroves. Although this is one of my favourite ducks, I this is the first painting I’ve done of them in decades and it is in acrylic on birch plywood mounted on a basswood frame. The size is 30 X 24 inches, with the birds portrayed slightly larger than life-size. Price: $900.00.
Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis) and Black-capped Chickadee (P. atricapillus)
The upper figure in this simple study shows a Carolina Chickadee, a species of tit that occurs throughout a wide swath of eastern North America, from Texas in the south, north well into Ohio. It is not normally found as far north as here, in Ontario, but one was recently reliably seen and photographed at Point Pelee, the southernmost part of Ontario (and all of Canada, for that matter). The lower figure is a Black-capped Chickadee, which is one of the most abundant bird species in Ontario. Indeed, it has a huge range, from Alaska east to Newfoundland, and south through much of continental U.S. They look so much alike that it may well be that some Carolina Chickadees arrive unnoticed in southern Ontario because they are mistaken for the common Black-capped. However, having seen lots of both species I think they are distinctive enough that if an experienced birder encounters a Carolina it will be recognized. Their ranges do overlap a little, and so to tell them apart remember that the Black-capped has quite a bit more white on the edges of many of the major wing feathers. The Black-capped is more “richly” coloured, with a slightly brighter pinkish-tan colour to the flanks. Also, their voices are a little different, the “chick-a-dee” call being given at a faster tempo and higher pitch by the Carolina. This was done for the cover of a journal in which is published an account and photos of the second Carolina Chickadee for the province of Ontario, the first being about a quarter of a century earlier, at Long Point, also on the Canadian side of Lake Erie. I am sure there will be more. The painting is approximately life-size and is in acrylics on compressed hardboard. Price: $100.00, as is, unframed.
Black Oystercatcher (Haematopus bachmani)
Anyone who is alert to the natural world and enjoys seeing wildlife, and has visited rocky Pacific coast shoreline from the Aleutian Islands of Alaska south to the coast of Baja California, Mexico, has almost certainly seen this distinctive shorebird, about 500 to 700 grams in weight (about a pound to a pound and a half). They are chunky, solid and methodical in their motions and behavior. Their plumage is a funereal drab black with a brownish wash to the back and wing coverts, and a bit of a blue or blue-purplish wash, variably, to the head, neck and upper breast, but under most lighting conditions they look dull black. The unfeathered parts (which birders and ornithologists call the “soft parts”) are quite vivid, the feet usually a pearlescent pink color, the beak bright red, as is the narrow bare ring around the eye. The pupil is yellow. In many individuals there is a dark blackish-brown spot of pigment on the iris, just in front of the pupil (at what would be the 4 o’clock position on a dial), which, from a distance, can give the pupil a somewhat “slit-like” or oval look. I don’t know what the function is, and have seen that same bit of pigment in the iris of totally unrelated birds, like toucans. Most artists don’t show it, but I’ve seen it more often than not in birds I’ve observed, so included it. In other parts of the world there are other oystercatcher species that are nearly the same color, and others with varying amounts of white, and some that are black, white and dark brown. The specimen I used for reference (along with dozens of my own sketches, notes and photographs and those of others) was collected May 25, 1936, at Disenchantment Bay, Osier Island, Alaska by T.M. Shortt (1910 – 1986) who I believe was Canada’s finest bird artist and illustrator, and was a mentor to me when I was young. He painted the bird, showing no pigment in front of the pupil, but since most, or at least many, seem to have it, I included it, in my painting. It’s estimated to have a population size of around 10,000 birds and since it stays very close to the tide lines, it is very vulnerable to oil spills, as well as displacement by recreational and other beach use in the southern part of its range. In spite of its name, it feeds on a wide range of tide-pool marine life including small mussels, limpets and chitons, the soft bodies of live barnacles, crab, isopods and other invertebrates. They lay usually two or three hard-shelled eggs. The young stay close to their parents until the following year. Birds in the northern part of the range may migrate, with the young of that year following with them. The adults pairs may stay together for many years, patrolling the stretch of shoreline that is their territory each nesting season. The painting, approximately life-size, is about 16 X 20 inches and is in acrylics on hardboard (acid-free Masonite). Price: $550.00.
Copper-throated Sunbird (Leptocoma calcostetha)
In ecological terms sunbirds are similar to hummingbirds in the western hemisphere. But while hummingbirds are only found in North, Central and South America and the West Indies, sunbirds are found only in the eastern hemisphere, mostly in the tropics and subtropics. Both groups consist of tiny birds that are often brightly coloured in iridescent hues and both are often attracted to brightly coloured flowers. But the sunbirds lack the amazing aerodynamic properties of the hummers, and there are far fewer species of sunbirds than hummingbirds. The Copper-throated Sunbird, which I showed approximately life-size in this small painting, is found in the lowlands of much of Southeast Asia, including the Philippines, mostly near coastlines. They are found in a wide variety of habitats, including mangroves, jungles, parks and gardens. The sexes are very different in colour, and my painting shows a male, which, has very dark colours, often appearing almost black in the field, but with metallic dark green patches, and an iridescent throat, more purple, usually, than copper-coloured, but varying depending on the angle and the quality of the light. Females are light yellow below, with grey heads, pale silvery-grey throats and dull greenish backs. Like other sunbirds, they eat nectar and tiny insects and spiders. The nests are hanging, somewhat bag-shaped, and more than one pair may work on the nest. It is made of bits of vegetation and spider webbing. Interestingly, in spite of its wide range, with many populations living on various islands (Borneo, Java, Philippine islands) it apparently shows no geographic variation. My painting of a male seeking tiny spiders amid a clump of dead leaves is mixed media, and is framed. Size: ca 11” X 8”. Price, including frame, $300.00.
Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca)
Because it is framed under glass and I am not a great photographer, I can’t get a photo of the whole painting, but it is on a horizontal axis, approximately 20 inches from left to right, by approximately 12 inches from top to bottom. It shows a species of duck native to parts of Africa and eastern and central Asia, that is a lovely chestnut colour, and is in the same genus of ducks as scaups and pochards. These are diving ducks that normally swim underwater in search of prey, but when I saw some surface-feeding, rather like wigeon, I was intrigued. I absolutely love painting waterfowl – ducks, geese and swans – and enjoy showing them not only posed perfectly to show their plumage, but preening, feeding, tending their young and doing other interesting things. The challenge here was in creating a perspective that makes it look as they the bird is really approaching, by tapering it from larger in front to smaller as the body recedes into the background, without making it look distorted. I had great fun inventing a ripple pattern on the otherwise calm surface of the water to suggest movement forward. Ducks have a row of thin plates on the inside of the beak that allows them to filter out the water and swallow tiny plant and animal matter – literally a form of filter feeding. This is a mixed media, mostly acrylic, but augmented with both watercolour and coloured pencil, which is why it is under glass. It hangs in the front of the central hall of my house, and have never, before now, been on display or offered for sale. Price: $800.00 frame included.
Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis)
I have a particular affection for this species of duck, endemic to the western hemisphere, and endemic, as a breeding species, to North America, although they may migrate in winter as far south as the West Indies and through Central America to the northern tip of South America. And like many duck species, they are strong flyers and probably the odd one reaches Eurasia. They are very similar to the Greater Scaup (A. marila), which is known simply as the Scaup in the UK and other English-speaking countries outside of the Americas, but as their name implies the Lessers are smaller. They have several other rather distinctive differences, especially evident in the adult males in full breeding plumage. The average weight of the male is about 850 grams, whereas that of the Greater Scaup is around 1,000 grams. The head of the Lesser is not as flatly rounded as that of the Greater, looking almost tufted at times, although lacking the more crested look of a related Eurasian species, the Tufted Duck (A. fuligula). The Tufted Duck, in turn, has a black back, as does a North American counterpart, the Ring-necked Duck (A. collaris). There are several other extremely attractive ducks in the genus, known in English as scaups, or pochards, found in various parts of the world. But in this small study I have shown a young male, in February, with only some of the appearance of the adult showing. Lesser Scaups are diving ducks that nest from Alaska across northern North America as far east as Ontario. They nest on the ground in open wetlands, sloughs and marshes and in winter the visit larger lakes, ponds, rivers and so on, where there is open water, often in company with other diving duck species. My painting shows a bird at Swan Lake, just outside of Victoria, British Columbia. It is a lovely protected marsh where I was able to get very close to the birds. This painting is 9 X 12 inches, in acrylics on a birch panel mounted on a basswood frame and it smaller than life size, really just a simple study. Price: $175.00
Cuckoos of North America, genus Coccyzus.
This painting shows the three species of cuckoo that are in the genus Coccyzus, and are found in North America. At the top is the Yellow-billed Cuckoo (C. americanus), and below it, is the Black-billed Cuckoo (C. erythropthalmus) and at the bottom, the Mangrove Cuckoo (C. minor). When I was young I was enthralled by the large bird books of that era, many “state” books, or books about the birds of a large region or country, featuring paintings by early 20th century artists in which related bird species were shown in a single painting, often beautifully done by such influential artists as Allan Brooks, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, Walter A. Weber, Francis Lee Jaques, George M. Sutton, Owen J. Gromme, Donald Leo Malick, Archibald Thorburn, Don. R. Eckleberry, Roger Tory Peterson, and others, including the master of them all, D.M. Reid-Henry. That style of painting, mostly done in gouache watercolor (acrylics were not invented) has somewhat fallen out of fashion (while great bird artists whose work I greatly admire continue to appear), but I love to pay homage to that type of “composite painting”, as I call it, as I’ve done with this painting. There are nine species in the genus, the remainder found in Central and South America. The Yellow-billed has a wide range across temperate North America, from California to the Canadian Maritime provinces. It winters in South America (some migrating through the West Indies) where the very closely related and very similar Pearly-breasted Cuckoo (C. euleri) has a wide distribution. Cuckoos are among the few birds that eat fuzzy caterpillars, often dining on tent caterpillars, oblivious to the spines that irritate most other birds. Unlike many cuckoo species (there are about 136, world-wide) “ours” make their own nests (if not very substantial) and incubate their own eggs, so I showed the Black-billed on the twiggy, platform nest with the head of one baby showing. The feathers of neonate cuckoos develop in plastic-textured sheaths, as with all feathers, except the sheaths grow longer before the feather erupts at the end, than is true of most other such birds (excluding, of course, those that are downy when hatched) giving the babies a sort of hedgehog-like look. The Mangrove Cuckoo reaches the northernmost tip of its range in extreme southern Florida, but has a wide, mostly coastal range in the West Indies, Mexico and Central America and the Caribbean and Atlantic regions of northern South America. The painting is 24 by 18 inches, and is done in acrylics on compressed hardboard. Price: $400.00.
American Coot (Fulica americana)
Coots are members of the rail family, and are somewhat “duck-like” in their habits and appearance. There are several species found in various parts of the world, all similar to each other in general appearance and closely related to gallinules and moorhens. But unlike gallinules and all other rails, their toes have a special adaptation of the feet, not webbing, but flattened lobes that extend outward from both sides of the three forward facing toes, and a single flap below the short hind toe. The American Coot is breeds throughout most of North America, south through Central America and the West Indies, to a few isolated parts of northern South America. Northern birds will migrate far enough south to avoid frozen water, and in some locations may occur in large flocks, often in association with Canvasbacks and other diving ducks, at least at the northern edge of their wintering range. They nest mostly on floating mats of marsh vegetation, in marshes, and have large egg clutches, usually marshes, often anchored to, or indeed, incorporating, rooted emergent reeds and other vegetation. They lay 6 to 12 eggs. The babies are partly bald on their colourfully patterned heads, and rather variable in colour. While both parents share duties raising the chicks, as I’ve indicated in my painting, they tend to favour the more brightly coloured, and may even show hostility toward some of their own babies, leading to those youngsters starving. They also are casual about laying eggs in the nests of other coot pairs, and the resultant foster-chicks may not be cared for. They have interesting breeding displays and a wide range of vocalizations. They are considered to be legal game, but not too often hunted as the flesh is, reportedly, not very good tasting, compared to ducks. Coots eat mostly aquatic vegetation and small forms of aquatic life, even including small fish, and both cannibalism and the eggs of other marsh birds have been recorded in their diets. There is something about coots I’ve never understood. Where I live (southern Ontario) they are usually exceptionally wary and hard to approach, but in other regions they seem very “tame” and relatively unafraid of people. This painting, for example, is based, in part, on close observations made in British Columbia, California, Arizona and Florida, but not Ontario. This painting shows the birds approximately life size, and is 18 X 24 inches, in acrylics, on a birch panel. Price: $900.00 unframed.
Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris)
This painting, approximately life size, is only about 7 X 10 inches in size, in mixed media (mostly acrylic on paper) and is framed under glass. It is one of three paintings I did of the species in fairly quick succession, selling the other two, and keeping this one, but it is now for sale. It is done in the “classic” bird illustration format of the North American bird artists of the first half of the 20th century – Brooks, Fuertes, Weber, Sutton and others – showing male and female, posed to display all their colours and patterns, with a little bit of habitat indicated. The male is often references as one of the most beautifully coloured birds of North America, the female more modestly toned in shades of olive-green, but with subtle blue tints. They are reasonably common in most of the southern U.S., and Mexico, migrating deep into Central American and the West Indies. They have been known to occur here in Ontario. Their bright colours make them popular with the exotic pet trade, although in most or all of their range they are legally protected from capture and private ownership. Size: ca. 10” X 7” Price: $600.00 frame included.
Copper-throated Sunbird (Leptocoma calcostetha)
In ecological terms sunbirds are similar to hummingbirds in the western hemisphere. But while hummingbirds are only found in North, Central and South America and the West Indies, sunbirds are found only in the eastern hemisphere, mostly in the tropics and subtropics. Both groups consist of tiny birds that are often brightly coloured in iridescent hues and both are often attracted to brightly coloured flowers. But the sunbirds lack the amazing aerodynamic properties of the hummers, and there are far fewer species of sunbirds than humminbirds. The Copper-throated Sunbird, which I showed approximately life-size in this small painting, is found in the lowlands of much of Southeast Asia, including the Philippines, mostly near coastlines. They are found in a wide variety of habitats, including mangroves, jungles, parks and gardens. The sexes are very different in colour, and my painting shows a male, which, has very dark colours, often appearing almost black in the field, but with metallic dark green patches, and an iridescent throat, more purple, usually, than copper-coloured, but varying depending on the angle and the quality of the light. Females are light yellow below, with grey heads, pale silvery-grey throats and dull greenish backs. Like other sunbirds, they eat nectar and tiny insects and spiders. The nests are hanging, somewhat bag-shaped, and more than one pair may work on the nest. It is made of bits of vegetation and spider webbing. Interestingly, in spite of its wide range, with many populations living on various islands (Borneo, Java, Philippine islands) it apparently shows no geographic variation. My painting of a male seeking tiny spiders amid a clump of dead leaves is mixed media, and is framed. Size: ca 11” X 8”. Price, including frame, $300.00
Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens)
With regard to birds, certain North American species evoke the term “elegant” in my mind. They include the Cedar and Bohemian Waxwings, the White-crowned Sparrow, the Gray Catbird, the Gadwall and, most certainly, this species, the trim and attractive Phainopepla. Phainopeplas live in the southwestern U.S., south deep into Mexico. The male is a glossy steel-blue black, but with bright white inner webs of the primary flight feathers, rarely visible when the bird is perched, but very visible when the bird flies. I have shown the wing slightly spread in the male bird. Both sexes have long, wispy crests which they can raise straight up, or flatten down, and red eyes. The female is a smoky brownish-grey colour with less prominent wing patches and light edges to the wing feathers and the under-tail coverts. The name derives from Greek, “phain pepla”, which translates into “shining robe”. They are the northernmost members of the family Ptiliogonatidae, or “silky flycatchers”. While they occur in a variety of habitats, including parks, open woodlands and orchards, they also occur in hot, dry deserts. They eat small insects and fruits, especially berries, with a particular fondness for clumps of mistletoe, most particularly including the native Desert Mistletoe (Phoradendron californicum), which is a hemiparasitic plant, leafless, that grows on other plant species, taking nutriment from them (it has no leaves, but can photosynthesize on its own, which is why it is not considered a full parasite). The Phainopeplas cannot digest the mistletoe seeds, and thus disperse them into other locations, either by cleaning them off their beaks or through defecation, so they are somewhat symbiotic – the bird benefitting from the nutriment in the berries, the plant dispersing its offspring via the bird. The plant the birds are in is the Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis), whose range and habitat is largely the same as that of the Phainopepla. The painting is acrylic on compressed wooden panel and is 12 by 9 inches, and unframed. Price: $350.00
Tawny Owl (Strix aluco)
This sturdy owl is found through much of Eurasia, and is related to North America’s Barred Owl (Strix varia). It is hugely variable in colour, as are many owl species with geographic variation resulting in about eleven subspecies being recognized (the exact number varies from ten to fifteen, depending on various opinions by taxonomists). The bird I painted is S. a. sylvatica, from western Europe, including the UK (found even in parks in major cities). Like many races, and like our own Eastern Screech-Owl (Megascops asio), it comes in two colour morphs, grey and red. I’ve shown the red. Nocturnal, they hunt a wide range of pretty, but focus mostly on rodents. I’ve shown this bird with a freshly captured immature Norway Rat (Rattus norvegicus), which, in spite of its name, is actually native to China but now widely distributed through much of the world, being found on every continent except Antarctica. I decided to show the bird at the crack of dawn, just as the bright sunlight fills the forest and the owl, with its last catch of the night, pauses amid the glare and shadows of the sudden arrival of day. This owl is commonly heard and easily imitated (I had a birder call one, and get a response, in Portugal.) It is the Tawny Owl Shakespeare referred to in Love’s Labour’s Lost, Act 5, Scene 2: “Then nightly sings the staring owl, Tu-whit; tu-who, a merry note, while greasy Joan doth keel the pot”. Actually, the call Shakespeare describes is a duet, the first part uttered by the female, while the last “who” note coming from the male. This is an oil painting, unframed, painted on a mounted wooden panel, and is ca. 24” X 18”. The price is only $600.00. I often charge much less for paintings of non-native birds as I enjoy drawing and painting them, but they are less likely to sell. I would love for this painting to wind up in Europe!
Henst's Goshawk (Accipiter henstii)
This painting shows a very rare and little-known species of raptor found only in Madagascar, where it occupies several different forest habitats and plantations. The main threat seems to be habitat loss. The prey is a Blue Coua (Coua caerulea), a species of cuckoo that is also found only on Madagascar and is also threatened, mostly by hunting. This painting is approximately life-size, in oils on compressed hardboard and measures ca. 20” X 18”. Price, unframed: $800.00.
Black-tailed Gull (Larus crassirostris)
This is one of my favorite gull paintings. It shows a species which I first got good looks at when I was in Japan, where it is one of the more common gull species, and not far from where the first specimen described by scientists was obtained in 1818. We now know that Black-tailed Gulls are found in other parts of eastern Asia. However, Japan is in the core of its range, and it occurs in huge numbers at the Kabushima Shrine at Hachinohe, Momori, where a Shinto shrine was erected in the gull’s honor, originally in 1269, and kept up or rebuilt as needed ever since, now being a tourist attraction where literally tens of thousands of the birds nest, and are very accustomed to human visitors and admirers. There are other large, protected colonies in Japan, where the species is honored as a messenger of the goddess of the fishing enterprise. Although the gulls do eat fish, mollusks and crabs, the Japanese wisely do not see them as competitors but as indicators of robust and healthy stocks of such species, as well as important scavengers who keep the environment clean. I showed this bird in winter plumage. The painting was used as a cover for Ontario Birds, the official journal of the Ontario Field Ornithologists, illustrating a paper inside on the first occurrence of the species in Ontario, although individuals are seen, usually on the Pacific coast, in other parts of North America from time to time. The Japanese name, umineko, translates into “sea cat”. Males are larger than females but the same colour and pattern. The grey streaking on the head of the bird I painted indicates winter plumage, and is not present in the breeding plumage, which it takes four years to acquire. The entire tail is not black; more of a broad band. The tip and entire base of the tail are crisply white. This painting is framed, and was done in acrylics on compressed hardboard and is 18” X 12”. Price, including frame, is $700.00.
Yellow-breasted Warbler (Seicerus montis)
This tiny bird, it only weighs about 5 grams, has a very large range throughout much of Southeast Asia, including Borneo, where I saw them on Mount Kinabalu. It is also in the Philippines, onPalawan, and on the Malayan Peninusual, as well as Sumatra, Flores and Timor. Not surprisingly, it has several subspecies, and I have shown the nominate form, from Borneo. They eat tiny insects, and have also been called the Yellow-breasted Flycatcher-Warbler. But really, as much as anything, this is a painting of a very large and strange flower, a species of Nepenthes pitcher plant, Nepenthes villosa, found only on the slopes of Mount Kinabalu. The juxtaposition of the tiny, widely distributed and common bird and this large, strangely exotic flower with its extremely limited range intrigued me, and so since I saw both in the same montane forest on the trail leading to the top of the mountain, the tallest in southeast Asia, and one of the most wonderfully strange and exotic places to be in, I couldn’t resist putting them together in this small painting, a favorite of mine. The bird and flower are shown approximately life size in a painting that is ca. 12” X 9”, is mixed media, and is framed. Price, including frame: $350.00
Black-crowned Tityra (Tityra inquisitor)
The Black-crowned Tityra, also known as the Black-capped Tityra, was once placed by taxonomists in the cotinga family, Cotingidae, but is now placed by some experts in a separate family, Tityridae. It is a taxonomically confusing group of birds restricted to the western hemisphere, mostly in the tropics and subtropics. There is, within the species, a fair amount of geographic variation, and I have shown the northern race, T. i. fraserii, that I encountered in Costa Rica. They are found from southern Mexico sotu to northeastern Argentina. About the size of a starling, they eat mostly fruit, large invertebrates and the odd small lizard. In my painting I have shown the male, with the black cap, above, and the female below. This painting is done in a mixed media style I don’t use often these days, but quite enjoy for painting smaller birds, and it is gouache watercolour on acrylic on paper. The painting is framed under glass. 14 X 12 inches, not including the frame. $500.00
American Black Duck (Anas rubripes)
If you draw a line from north to south from the top of North America to the bottom, most of the region on the east side of that line is more or less occupied by American Black Ducks, either as a breeding species, especially in the northern half, or as a wintering bird, with a wide overlap zone where it both breeds and winters. But I mostly think of it as a species that nests in the boreal black spruce forests of northern Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador. To the west of that imaginary line would be most of the historical native range of the extremely closely related Mallard (A. platyrhynchos), a species that tended to nest in marshes and sloughs in the prairie regions while the American Black Duck nested in forest ponds. The Mallard is also found across Eurasia, while the American Black Duck is strictly North American. But in modern times Mallards have moved east in North America and now occupy much of the same region as the American Black Duck. The two species often hybridize, but not randomly. I live in the middle of the “hybrid zone” and both species are very common here. And yet while I do see hybrids, usually the Mallards seem to associate mostly with Mallards and the American Black Ducks with their own kind as well. Female Mallards look superficially like American Black Ducks, being brown and mottled, but really they are a lot lighter, have orange beaks with a bit of brown mottling, whitish tail feathers and blue speculums (the iridescent patch on the wing, which is more purple in the American Black Duck) and the feet are more orange, usually being red or reddish in the American Black Duck. Most of the time we just refer to this species as the “black duck”, with the “American” added to the official name to avoid confusion with a very different species of duck in Africa, also known as a black duck. I showed a trio of birds on the east coast, where many winter. There are two males and a female, the latter having an olive-green beak, as opposed to the bright yellow of the male, but otherwise the two sexes are quite similar. The species nests on the ground, often in beaver ponds, even on the roofs of beaver lodges. The painting is smaller than life size, in acrylic, on compressed hardboard. Size: 18 X 24”. $700.00
Crested Jay (Platylophus galericulatus)
This strange-looking jay is native to the Malaysian, Indonesian region, and Borneo. The bird I have shown is from Borneo, where the Crested Jay is a rather dark, mahogany brown colour, as they are in Sumatra. Birds in other regions are blacker and have a slightly different crest size. These birds are in the same family, Corvidae, as other jays, magpies, pies, crows and ravens, but unlike other family members, lack a tuff of stiff feathers over the nostrils. The species is in decline in much of its range due to deforestation. It is relatively little-studied, and I count myself fortunate for having seen it during a trip to Borneo many years ago. It likes low, warm, evergreen forests up to an elevation of about 1,500 meters. Fortunately it is tolerant of second-growth, and also can live in forests where logging and farming is uneconomical, and so while threatened, is not yet as serious a conservation concern as other species in the region. This painting is unframed, and is 14 X 24 inches, showing the bird approximately life size. It is in acrylics, on compressed hardboard. $700.00.
Giant Hummingbird (Patagona gigas)
All things are relative, and for a hummingbird “giant” is applied to a bird that weighs only 18 to 24 grams (under an ounce) and is about 9 inches long. Still, it is the largest hummingbird in the world, and this small painting shows the species approximately life-size. They are found in the Andes Mountains, down the west side of South America, although ranging as low as sea level. I encountered it amid the higher altitudes of Ecuador, and have hinted at an Andean volcano in the background of my little painting. They have, as I’ve shown, long wings and tail, and in fact they have been known to glide, a very rare habit among hummingbirds. Unlike all other hummingbirds I’ve seen their wing beats, while rapid, are slow enough to allow them to be seen, and not just a blur. Taxonomists believe that the Giant is quite distinct from the remaining hummingbird species, a family that, depending on taxonomic decisions, contains somewhere around 330 species. It is, however, given a genus of its own, divided into two subspecies. I have shown. The nominate subspecies is more southern and eastern, being found from northern Bolivia and Argentina south to southern Chile, including Chiloé Island. It is thought that this species was the inspiration for the native people of Mapuche territory in Chile for the famous huge geoglyph known as the Nazca hummingbird, whose configuration can only really be appreciated when viewed from the air. Although they may lack the brilliant colours and ornate plumage of so many other hummingbird species, I think they are still one of the most attractive of hummers, and a delight to portray. The painting is 7 X 11 inches and is framed. $400.00, including the frame
Eskimo Curlew (Numenius borealis)
This painting shows a small curlew species, endemic to the western hemisphere, and, sadly, extinct. There have been no reliable records of it in the last half century, or so, and I think by now it is safe to assume none are left. The Eskimo Curlew used to nest in the Canadian arctic, its exact breeding range unknown, but presumably from Alaska east to what is now Nunavut. And in fact, this painting was done to illustrate a book on the birds of Nunavut, formerly the eastern part of the Northwest Territories. The Eskimo Curlew was once abundant, and killed by market and sport hunters in huge numbers during the 18th and 19th Centuries. They were highly migratory, and we know that in the summer they left their far northern breeding grounds and flew east, to the Atlantic coast, and then south, through the West Indies, to their wintering grounds in Patagonia. Then, in late winter or early spring, they would head north, taking a more direct route up through Central America and the prairies. Like other highly migratory shorebirds they would have accomplished some very long flights over untenable habitat such as open ocean, jungle, and high mountains. All of this is dramatically told in the novel, Last of the Curlews, by the late Fred Bodsworth, a dear friend and mentor to me when I was young. The original book was illustrated by wonderful scratchboard drawings by T. M. Shortt, also a friend and mentor, and, in my opinion, the finest bird artist Canada has ever produced, and a master of black and white, pen and ink and scratchboard art. I chose to show a group of the birds, showing minor individual variations in pattern, colour and structure, newly arrived in the north. Usually they are illustrated as a single bird, or a pair, to empathize the tragedy of their loss, but I wanted to show them as they would have been in centuries past; a group of shorebirds, preening and feeding in a shallow slough somewhere near the arctic circle. The painting is done in acrylics on compressed hardboard, is approximately life size, and again I want to thank the Royal Ontario Museum for allowing me to closely examine, measure, sketch and photograph the precious specimens of this species in their care. 20 X 16” SOLD.
Scarlet-chested Parrot (Neophema splendida)
This little study, approximately life-size, shows a male Scarlet-chested Parrot, also known as a Scarlet-breasted, or orange-throated or splendid parrot, or parakeet. It is found in the wild only in Australia, in the arid interior of central and southern parts of the country. They have the ability to metabolize succulent vegetation into water to meet their requirements, and are mainly seed eaters, especially the spinifex grasses. Australia wisely prohibits export of its native birds for commercial purpose but the species is widely bred in captivity outside of Australia and now there are odd-coloured mutations on the market. I have shown an adult male. Females are younger birds are less brightly coloured, although still easily identifiable by their resemblance to the beautifully coloured adult male, although females are rather similar to the related Turquoise Parrot (N. pulchella), whose range is more eastern, although also endemic to Australia. The species was first formally described by bird artist John Gould, in 1841. The painting is acrylic and gouache watercolour on compressed wood panel and is 10 X 8 inches. It is framed. Price $250.00
Bog Turtle (Glyptemys muhlenbergii)
This painting was commissioned by the late and greatly missed Susan Hagood, a dedicated American animal protectionist and a dear friend and colleague, taken all too early by cancer. She died November 8, 2011. She was posthumously awarded the Conservationist of the Year award by the Maryland Wildlife Advisory Commission. She worked for two decades with the Humane Society of the United States and in 2009, she received her PhD in ecology for work on road mortality of the Eastern Box Turtle. The Bog Turtle is found only in a relatively few locations in the eastern U.S., where it is listed as endangered. An adult is tiny, only about 10 cm., or 4 inches, in length and tipping the scales around 110 grams (or about 4 ounces) on average. They face two threats: loss of habitat, and direct exploitation by poachers who illegally catch and sell the turtles to hobbyists who covet it for its lovely appearance, small size and great rarity. Unlike most turtles they lay very few eggs, about three per nest and one nest per mature female. Sexual maturity takes four to ten years. The turtles do live in bogs and muddy wetlands and keep hidden from view. The carapace is highly domed. It is easily identified by the orange patches at the side of the head. Its scientific name is in honour of Gotthilf Heinrich Ernst Muhlenberg, an 18th century clergymen who, like so many contemplative clergy of his era, was an accomplished naturalist with a special interest in botany, discovering and describing plants in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, when he found this lovely little turtle and made it known to science. In 1801 it was formally described and named in Muhlenberg’s honour. It is most closely related to the Wood Turtle (Glyptemys insculpta) according to most recent scientific analysis. The painting was done approximately life size in acrylics on compressed hardboard. SOLD
The White-throated Swift is the most boldly patterned of swifts native to North America. I saw my first ones high in a blue sky over central California, many years ago, and evoked that memory in this painting, but from a more intimate point of view, putting my imagination high up, in among the as they fly with flashing speed and consummate control. The bird in the foreground is approximately life sized. The painting is done with acrylics and gouache watercolour on compressed hardboard. SOLD.
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)
When I was a child this was considered a rare species in the Greater Toronto Area, where I lived, and I thought of them as a species of the southern U.S. When, at about the age of 7 or 8, I saw my first one flying low over the house I was ecstatic. It is now abundant, and found well up into the boreal forests and even can be seen in Ontario, the odd time in winter. It is, in fact, widely spread throughout much of North, Central and South America and the West Indies. With its large size and distinctive habit of flying with the wings held at a slight angle, it is easily identified and even non-birders can point them out. An obligate scavenger, the Turkey Vulture is not only harmless, but performs something of a social service by removing dead animals from roads and other locations, thus keeping the environment clean. Their powerful digestive system apparently neutralizes some otherwise potentially dangerous microorganisms that might otherwise be harmful to us or other species. I also grew up thinking the New World vultures and their very close relatives, the condors, were related to hawks, eagles and falcons. The experts thought so, placing all of these families of birds in the same order. But modern technology and access to DNA analysis has painted a different picture, and we now know that they New World Vultures and Condors are not really related to hawks and eagles, but to storks. Falcons, on the other hand, are more closely related to parrots! This painting was a cover for Ontario Birds, the journal of the Ontario Field Ornithologists. One of my patrons, having seen it there, was surprised when he saw the large original how vibrant it was. Bird artist Robin Restall was most kind in his praise of how I showed the tail feathers…not all of them fresh and crisp, and one still growing in. Its little details like that, which I always try to think about in my paintings. I know the likelihood of a vulture painting selling is remote, but I don’t care…I like the painting and so had it framed. The painting is acrylic The size of the painting, itself, is about 30 X 24 inches, not including the frame. $1300.00
This is a life-sized painting of one of the most stunning birds of prey in the world, the Swallow-tailed Kite, native to the southern U.S. through Central America into much of South America. Previously I have painted this species in flight, as they are usually seen, but I showed this one in a Florida swamp, and as it was the first painting I did following my mother’s death in 2005, I think my sombre mood influenced the painting. This painting is life size, fully framed, and was done in oils on compressed hardboard. PRICE: Sold.
When I was a kid I read somewhere that the Wood Duck is the most beautiful duck in North America, and maybe the whole world. I am not sure how one measures beauty, as it is indeed in the mind of the beholder; I love to paint all waterfowl species and find them extremely pleasing, visually, all of them. The Wood Duck is one of two species in the same genus, the other, the Mandarin Duck, found in Asia, and I hope to soon do a painting of it. The males of both species have bold, flamboyant colour and pattern, although quite unlike each other, although females are very similar to each other. I was inspired to do add the frog by seeing two similar scenes in the wild. One was a Wood Duck being stocked by a Northern Watersnake, whose head, alone, showed above the water. The other was the sight of a pair of Mallards sharing a log with a Painted Turtle. But I chose a Leopard Frog emerging from the water, as if pondering the two ducks. Wood Ducks are found throughout much of temperate North America. The painting is approximately life size, in acrylics, on compressed hardboard. Price (including frame): $900.00 Size: Approximately 15 X 21 inches (plus frame)
Sun Conure (Aratinga solstitialis)
This painting shows ten birds on a branch in a Brazilian forest, busily chattering and preening. Conures are also popularly known as parakeets, and members of this genus, Aratinga, which is found only in Mexico, Central and South America, and the West Indies. Most species in the genus are a rather vivid green, often with patches of red or yellow, but the Sun Conure is a lovely rich golden colour around the head, blending to a very bright yellow body with green touches to the wings and tail. This painting is in acrylics, is approximately 15 inches by 26 inches, was done in acrylics on compressed hardboard and is framed. Until now it has never been offered for sale; in fact I currently have it hanging in my family room, framed under glass. Price: $1800.00, frame included.
The Spruce Grouse is found in the cold, rugged, boreal forests of North America, from Alaska east to Newfoundland and Labrador. It is noted for not being very fearful of people, thus easily killed by hunters. While the male is quite spectacular in the full breeding display I decided to show him in a calmer mode, although he is certainly aware of, and reacting to, the female beside him. There are several races, and I have shown a bird typical of the black spruce forests of northern Ontario. The painting is approximately life-size, and is done in gouache watercolour on top of acrylic on compressed hardboard. PRICE: $650.00
Scott’s Oriole (Icterus parisorum)
This little painting was done in gouache and acrylic on paper. The orioles or the genus Icterus are among my favourite birds to portray, and in this painting, approximately life-size, is somewhat influenced by the wonderful art of the late Louis Agassiz Fuertes, showing the male above, the female below, and hinting at habitat, but with the “accoutrements” more loosely handled than the mains ubject. While he painted all birds with exquisite skill, I often have thought that he had a special affinity for the orioles. This species is patterned very like the familiar Baltimore Orioles (Icterus galbula) that occur in my back yard each summer, but with the orange of the Baltimore replaced by bright yellow. It is a bird or arid regions of the American southwest and Mexico, from central Texas west as far as California. The painting is approximately 12 X 9 inches, is framed, and has never been publicly displayed, having been hung, instead, in my breakfast room. Cost (including frame) $650.00.
The Rose-breasted Grosbeak is one of our prettiest spring birds in Ontario, and I have painted them several times, and hope to do more. This study is really an homage to classic bird illustration, with a male and a female nicely posed in neutral sunlight. I do a lot of paintings like that, and if they are native birds they usually sell. But the reason I do them is that I glory in the act of showing their wonderful colours and patterns. But since one often sees spring birds high overhead I chose an angle, or point of view, that shows the bird as birders often see them, from below. This is approximately life size, and is done in gouache watercolour on acrylic on watercolour paper. PRICE: SOLD
Rock Ptarmigan and Lapland Longspur
If I were to list, say, fifty paintings of birds I have done that are among my favourites, this one, of a male Rock Ptarmigan pausing briefly as he faces a male Lapland Longspur, also in full breeding plumage, in the high arctic, during the brief summer. I tried to get the effect of low sunlight and the strong, barren landscape, although “made up”. But what is interesting is that I had a post-operative eye problem at the time, which caused me to see things as if through a haze, or gauze, with everything washed out. My eye surgeon assured me it was a common thing, easily corrected by a brief, simple laser treatment, but I naturally worried that I was losing my sight. I painted using my knowledge of my acrylic palette. The treatment was indeed quick and simple, and suddenly I could see all colours in their original vibrancy. As I walked out of the hospital I looked up at the once-more brightly blue sky and tears of joy came to me. Sight is so vital. And when I walked in the door, there, where I had left it, was this painting and to my surprise and delight I didn’t have to change a thing…after working weeks on it, seeing only a faded image of what I was doing, I was now seeing it in all its correct, vibrant colour. The painting is framed, and for sale for $1200, frame included.
Red-headed Barbet (Eubucco bourcierii)
Odd though it may seem, I consider this small painting to be one of my all-time favourites, or at least symbolic of many paintings that are of the kind I like to do, although they rarely sell. The subject is a small, colourful barbet found in Central America. I first saw them in Costa Rica. They are found in Central America and in parts of tropical South America. The barbets are, very loosely speaking, probably more or less related to such groups of birds as woodpeckers and toucans, and I think of these as the “middle birds”, the non-aquatic, non-predatory, non-songbird species that also includes cuckoos, parrots, trogons, hornbills, kingfishers, rollers, broadbills and so on. I love painting them. Most species are, like this one, tropical, and they are “middle” because in bird books and checklists of birds they are usually in the middle, with a lineage not as ancient as species such as loons and cormorants, but not as recently evolved as the songbirds. Anyway, what makes this little painting, approximately 12 X 9 inches, and others like it, so pleasing to me is that it allowed me to exercise my knowledge of my subject by showing it in diverse poses, and from different angles, all “made up”, but based on observations and my knowledge of anatomy and behaviour. Most such images I have either not kept, or have donated to charities or given away as gifts but this one, done in 1993, I have framed, without glass, and kept. Price, with frame (no glass): $300.00.
There are two distinct races of the Red-breasted Sapsucker, and I have had the pleasure of seeing them both, the southern one in California and the northern one, which I featured in this painting, in British Columbia. The northern bird is a richer colour of red on the head and breast. Woodpeckers are a delight to sketch, draw and paint, and I am planning to do a painting showing all the sapsuckers species, all being native to North America. This painting is approximately life-size and is done in a acrylics and gouache watercolour on compressed hardboard, and is fully framed. PRICE: $400.00
Rainbow-billed Toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus)
This species used to be called the “Keel-billed Toucan”, which was not to helpful as all 34 species of the toucan family have laterally compressed beaks that re roughly keel-shaped, and look like part of an upside down canoe. The bills tend to be brightly coloured and distinctly patterned in all species, but especially so in this one. Toucans are limited to a region extending south from about central Mexico, south through the southern two thirds, or so, of South America, thus are strictly neotropical, with none native to the West Indies The Rainbow-billed Toucan is the most northern species, found from south-eastern Mexico (Veracruz) south as far as northern Colombia and the northwest tip of Venezuela. It likes the jungle, including lowland forest, coffee plantations (especially shade-grown coffee), and mangroves, open pastures and fruit orchards. These birds enjoy eating fruits of many kinds, including palm fruits, as well as large insects, and small vertebrate animals, such as snakes and lizards and baby birds and even small mammals. Like many neotropical species, it has been known to follow swarming army ant columns, catching the small animals that are chased up by the ants. They nest in cavities and can weigh up to about 50 grams, with the male bigger than the female, although otherwise the sexes look the same. There are only two subspecies recognized, and I have shown the southern one, R. s. brevicarinatus, which is the only one I have seen in the wild. I did that for the first time in June, 1971, at San Torte, near Altamira, Alejuela Province, Costa Rica. It was thrilling to watch them in flight, with that large beak out in front, having only previously seen them in zoos and pet stores. But the pose I saw decades later, in a zoo specimen, who was in this display pose for a long time, absolutely motionless and silent. I was surprised at how extensive the fluffy, bright red under-tail coverts were, in this pose. The painting is life size, and was done with acrylics on compressed hardboard.
Pyrrhuloxia (Cardinalis sinuatus)
To me the Pyrrhuloxia is one of the most beautiful of North American birds. I love the soft gray colour of the male and how it is complemented by the brightly0rosy-red tones to be found from the face down the center of the breast, and the richly warm tans and browns of the female. This is a bird of the southern arid desert region (I was channeling west Texas in this painting), found from about the Gulf coast of western Louisiana west deep into the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, and south deep into Mexico. I have also channeled the old style of bird illustration so mastered by the late Allan Brooks through most of the first half of the 20th century (he died in 1946), who almost invariably painted a pair of birds with the male above, the female below, and a suggestion of habitat in the background, although he did so far better than can I. This is a painting in acrylics and gouache watercolor on paper, and is framed. It’s never been displayed publicly, but hangs in my hallway. Price, frame included: $550.00.
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus pealei)
Although the Peregrine Falcon is found on every continent except Antarctica, there is a huge amount of geographic variation within the species. This oil painting, approximately life size, shows the subspecies that nests only in the region of the north Pacific, on the Commander Islands and possibly nearby coastlines on the Russian side, and through the Alaskan Aleutian Islands to Queen Charlotte Island, British Columbia, with some southward movement of wintering birds, sometimes to be looked for along the California coast. This oil painting is approximately life size, and measures about 17 inches by 24 inches. It is in a frame that, including a liner, is about three inches wide, and a dark bronzy brown colour. The painting, which has never been displayed or reproduced, is special to me because in part I used a specimen that had been prepared by the late Maj. Allan Brooks (1869 – 1946), the noted Canadian bird painter whose artwork so inspired me when I was a child. I have shown the bird preying on an Ancient Murrelet (Synthliboramphus antiquus), a member of the auk and puffin family, Alcids, found in large numbers in the same area as this race of Peregrine Falcon. Sometimes called the “Peale’s Peregrine”, this is about the largest and darkest of the Peregrine Falcons. Price: $1,000 (including frame).
This painting is to be published in a book on the birds of Nunavut. The book will be illustrated with photos, except for two species on the list of birds of Nunavut that are now extinct. One is the Eskimo Curlew, a once abundant shorebird that was hunted to extinction, and which bred in the arctic. The other, surprisingly, perhaps, is the Passenger Pigeon. This species was once by far the most abundant bird species in North America, with astounding numbers occurring in massive flocks that included millions of birds. But they were slaughtered in vast numbers, for food, to be fed to livestock, to be used for fertilizer, for their feathers, or even for the fun of it. Squabs were fat and could be rendered for oil that could be burned in lamps (as could be whale, seal, and sea turtle oil) in the days before electric lighting. The nesting colonies were vast, the weight of masses of birds breaking limbs and branches, and it is surmised that the birds needed huge expanses of intact, old growth deciduous forests in order to breed. The last one known to have lived for sure died in a zoo in 1914. They certainly did not normally occur as far north as Nunavut, but given how abundant they once were it may not be so surprising after all that a single bird was once found in the region, perched in the rigging of a ship. My challenge in this painting was to show a “generic” background, as I didn’t feel that it would look very correct to include an arctic scene, but neither could I show it in an oak, beech and maple climax forest of the kind they would have inhabited naturally, but which occurs nowhere near Nunavut, so I just chose to show a lovely male bird perched on a rock. The painting is approximately life size and in acrylics on compressed hardboard. SOLD
Northern White-faced Scops-Owl
Owls never cease to fascinate me, and I hope to eventually paint every species in North America, life size, but I also am happy to paint some of the fascinating owls found in other parts of the world. This painting, approximately life size, shows an African species, the Northern White-faced Scops Owl. Scops owls are similar to what we call screech-owls in the Americas, and like them, like all owls, can greatly alter their appearance by fluffing their feathers out, or pulling them in tight to their bodies. This painting consists of gouache watercolour on acrylic on compressed hardboard. PRICE: $200.00
Marbled Murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus)
This oil painting shows a small, endangered seabird found up and down the Pacific coast of North America. Oddly, although it is a true seabird, related to auks, murres and puffins, it nests in trees (most other family members nest either in holes and cavities in rocks and cliff-faces overlooking or near the ocean, or on cliff ledges overlooking the sea). But it requires old growth forests and as these have been cut down by the timber industry the murrelet has become increasingly rare. I’ve shown the bird in the mottled brown breeding plumage, but in winter they are black and white in colour, and spend their time entirely at sea. In this painting, which was done as a frontispiece for a scientific journal, shows a pair of murrelets in old growth redwood forest well inland, although I have shown a tiny glimpse of the distant sea. The painting is beautifully framed and is approximately 20 inches by 15 inches. Price, frame included: $1000.00
Louisiana Waterthrush (Parkesia motacilla)
The Louisiana Waterthrush is, of course, not a thrush at all, but a member of the American Wood Warbler family, a large group of small, mostly insectivorous birds. Most species are quite brightly coloured with non-iridescent tones of red, yellow, olive-green, orange, blue, black and white. However, some species, including this one, are more modestly coloured. The entire family is restricted to North, Central and South America and the West Indies, with one widely spread species, the Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia) occurring in the Galapagos Islands. The Louisiana Waterthrush breeds throughout most of the eastern United States, north into southern Ontario where, however, it is considered to be threatened species. Like most North American species, they are migratory, and spend the winter in Central and northern South America and the West Indies. They are very closely related to the more widely distributed Northern Waterthrush (P. noveboracensis), which they closely resemble in appearance. Price: SOLD
Hottentot Teal (Anas hottentota) and Malachite Kingfisher (Alcedo cristata)
This painting, approximately 12 X 16 inches, is framed and shows a very close-up look at a life-size Hottentot Teal, a modestly coloured, pretty little duck found throughout much of Africa. I saw something like this scene in Botswana and the idea of showing the duck with the beautiful little Malachite Kingfisher stayed with me. I wanted to get “up close and personal” , as I do in may of my paintings, giving a view of the birds you would not likely have in the wild, with the fallen log offering a strong compositional component to link the two, very diverse subjects. I have the painting hanging in my front living-room, and have never shown it or offered it for sale until now. Price, frame included: $900.00.
This painting, approximately life size, was based in part on a very loose watercolour sketch I did several decades ago, here in Ontario, when Loggerhead Shrikes were common. It is now an endangered species. I tried to capture the easy nature of the habitat sketch in the background, while putting the bird, a little more detailed, on a hawthorn twig, in the foreground. The painting is not, however, a typical watercolour, but a mixed piece consisting of acrylic on compressed hardboard and augmented with gouache watercolours. PRICE: $180.00
Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons)
This is a miniature painting, done several years ago. I love painting waterfowl – ducks, geese and swans – and I have particular affection for geese. This species is found in the far north of Europe and in North America. There are different geographic variations and I have shown the subspecies, Anser albifrons gambelli, that breeds in most of North America, east of Alaska. Although they sometimes show up in eastern North America, I think of them as birds of the west, and the arctic. I showed a bird preening, having migrated north, to the Arctic Circle, and landed on a lake covered with slushy ice and melting snow. The low, northern sunlight illuminates the bird as he preens. This was done in oils and although I made up the little story behind the painting, the sketches I made of preening birds were done during one of my many visits to northern California. I wanted to show a natural, candid pose. The white patch at the base of the beak that gives the species its name is nearly invisible because of the angle of the head, and really I thought of this as a study, and never expected it to sell, but I liked it enough to frame and it sold quickly. There is also a species of goose called the Lesser White-fronted Goose (Anser erythropus), found in Eurasia. Price: Sold.
Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)
This painting is approximately 14 inches by 18 inches, and is done in oils. It shows a bird that is native to Eurasia, where it is quite common, but the first Fieldfare I ever saw was in Islington, Toronto, Ontario, far from its native home. It was in winter, and it was coming to a mountain ash tree in a private garden. The people whose yard it was visiting phoned me to report a Fieldfare, and I frankly didn’t believe them, but they described the species perfectly and said they had drawn a picture of it. I don’t normally go chasing after rare birds, but the lady of the house was ill and didn’t want strangers visiting; she felt she knew me because I wrote a weekly nature column for The Toronto Sunday Star. My mother and I visited the house and sure enough, the drawing looked like the species, but the bird did not show up. A drawing, while indicative, does not constitute proof, since it could be copied from a picture, although these people did not seem the type to pull such a practical joke. So we returned another day, and sure enough, a magnificent Fieldfare suddenly appeared and began eating the berries. Although it was the first I had ever seen, it was also unmistakeable. Since then I have been in its native range in Europe and seen many of them. They are related to our American Robins, and like them, often form large, loose flocks in winter, who fly about the countryside, looking for berries. Price: $650.00 frame included.
There are few waterfowl more exotic looking than the Falcated Duck, also known as the Falcated Teal. I had seen lots of them in zoos and private waterfowl collections, but it took a trip to Japan to let me see the bird in the field. They are one of several Asian waterfowl species I have already painted, or hope to paint in the future. This painting is approximately life size, and is more a study, sort of between a vignette and a full painting, showing a pair of the birds swimming in shallow water. The painting is fully framed, and is acrylic and gouache watercolour on illustration board. PRICE: $650.00 (frame included)
Boat-billed Flycatcher (Megarynchus pitangua)
When I was a very young child there were very few resources open to me to see images of, or learn about, bird species not native to North America. I recall opening a book at the library – I don`t recall the title – that had a pen-and-ink drawing of a bird called a Boat-billed Flycatcher. How exotic that seemed to me, a colourful bird, according to the accompanying text, with a very large beak. Years later, when I got to travel in Central and South America, I made the acquaintance of the bird, itself, although by then I knew that the family of birds to which it belongs, the Tyrant Flycatchers, includes over 400 species with ranges spread over most of North, Central and South America and the West Indies and Galapagos, with many species having small ranges and being little known. There are more species in the Tyrant Flycatcher family than in any other bird family. The Boat-billed has a huge range, from Mexico south to Argentina. I have shown a bird from Ecuador, of the subspecies M. p. chrysogaster. Six subspecies are recognized, all rather similar to each other. I`ve shown the bird from an angle that emphasizes the size of the beak. The bird is painted about life size, and the painting, in acrylics on compressed hardboard, is approximately 9 inches X 12 inches, and is framed, under glass. Price: $600.00
Cackling “Aleutian” Goose (Anser hutchinsii leucopareia)
In one of the most influential books of my childhood, the two volume National Geographic’s “The Book of Birds”, first published in 1932, there is a gorgeous illustration by the late Allan Brooks showing, in the foreground, five Canada Geese, in a line, rather like suspects assembling for a police lineup, and for something like a similar reason: to allow the viewer to distinguish various similar, but different, individuals. At the far left of the line are two smaller, darker geese we are told are “Cackling Geese”. Next, moving right, is a distinctly larger bird called the “Lesser Canada Goose”. Next to it is the largest, simply called the “Canada Goose”, and finally, at the far right, there is a superbly drawn and painted individual that is the smallest and it, we are informed by the accompanying text, is a “Hutchin’s Goose”. All are fairly similar in colour and pattern and were then considered to be geographic forms, or variations, of one species, collectively known as the Canada Goose. As I matured I learned that there were some other subspecies of Canada Goose that could more or less be distinguished by appearance, but that because they tended to hybridize where ranges overlapped, they were all one species. The habit of using a separate English name for each identifiable name was dropped, and I also learned that the far left bird in Brooks’ wonderful painting was probably mean to represent yet another distinct subspecies, known, in those days, as the “Aleutian Canada Goose” or “Aleutian Goose”, and distinguished by usually having a white collar at the base of the otherwise black neck. It nested in the Aleutian Islands off the coast of Alaska, and it was endangered, due to the fur industry having introduced Arctic Foxes to the islands to live as feral populations that could be trapped for their furs. The goose nests on the ground were vulnerable to predation by the foxes. But then, some years ago, the entire assembly of Canada Geese, was “split” into two distinct species, the larger “Canada Goose” and the smaller ones, called the “Cackling Goose”. The “Aleutian Canada Goose” was assigned to the second species, thus the proper English name is “Cackling Goose”, but it is still often colloquially known as the “Aleutian” Goose. The geese themselves are small, not too much larger than a Mallard, thus also vulnerable. Sadly, the only resolution to the problem conservationists could devise was to try to undo the damage by aggressively killing off the foxes. But it worked, and these geese are no longer on the endangered list. I have shown the birds, smaller than life size, on a typically fog-enshrouded beach on their breeding ground. This painting was done in acrylics on compressed hardboard, and is 20 X 16 inches. Price: $400.00.
Cinnamon Teal (Anas cyanoptera)
The Cinnamon Teal is widely distributed in western North America, and I saw my first wild ones in the glowing light of early morning in a mirror-smooth pond that reflected the Colorado Rockies, the beautifully sun-struck ducks gliding serenely through the upside down image of the snow-capped mountains and yellow-leafed aspens. It was beautiful, but I got my idea for this painting during one of my numerous visits to California, when I saw a drake resting motionless, at right angles to me, in a shallow slough. The plumage was nicely fluffed and rounded, presenting a broad expanse of the cinnamon colouring that gives the bird its English name. As is so often true of ducks, the feathers of the flanks and the back nearly obscured much of the wing. I did show a little bit of the sky-blue colouring of the wing coverts that are similar to those of the Cinnamon Teal’s closet relative, the Blue-winged Teal. In fact, although the males of the two species are very different in colour, females are nearly identical, as are the colours and patterns of their wings. But the Blue-winged has a much wider range, breeding across much of temperate North America, while the Cinnamon is less likely to be seen east of the prairies. Both species are migratory. The painting is approximately life-size, and is about 12 inches X 17 inches, and is framed under glass. Price, including frame: $700.00.
Antillean Euphonia (Euphonia musica)
This small, approximately life size painting shows, from left to right, an adult female, an adult male, and an immature Antillean Euphonia, a small, colourful bird native to the West Indies. The painting published in a book on the birds of Hispaniola and the Dominican Republic, and is a vignette in gouache watercolours on paper. For most of my life it was thought that euphonias were members of the tanager family, but in 2012 it was determined that they were really a member of the finch family, Fringillidae, and much more closely related to our goldfinches, than to tanagers. But then, those tanagers found in North America have also been found to be not tanagers at all, but more closely related to our grosbeaks. It’s all rather confusing for non-specialists and part of our increasing knowledge of how species of animals are related to each other, as revealed by scientists’ ability to examine relationships indicated by DNA analysis. Whatever they are, the various species of euphonias, native to the West Indies and Central and South America, tend to be cheerfully-coloured little birds with short tails, glossy black backs and bright yellow or burn orange breasts. They have distinctive head patterns, short beaks and they love to eat small fruit, especially mistletoe. SOLD
Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)
I really love to paint waterfowl, and I think some of my favourite species are the teals, because of their small size, dapper manner and interesting and variable patterning. Here I have shown a pair of Green-winged Teal who have newly arrived in Ontario from the southern U.S. The scene is near my home and there has been a late snowfall. The warm April sunlight is melting it off. This painting is approximately life size, and was done in oils, on top of acrylic on compressed hardboard. PRICE: SOLD
Common Loon (Gavia immer)
Canada has no official national bird and there are efforts underway to choose one. Top runner is probably the Common Loon. In other parts of the English-speaking world this species is known as the Great Northern Diver. It nests in every province and territory of Canada; we have named our one dollar coin, which has an image of the loon on one side, the “loonie”, an affectionate if not altogether complimentary term since the strangely resonating often mournful, often maniacal calls of the loon have given rise to the expression “as crazy as a loon.” They are emblematic of the wild places of Canada and the northern U.S. and often one hears their calls in the backgrounds of movies and TV dramas to indicate “wilderness” or loneliness, sometimes in places where no loon would ever appear, such as distant jungles or deserts. I’ve shown an adult (sexes are identical and both will incubate the eggs and attend the young) with two chicks, the usual number. Nests are platforms of vegetation piled up at the edge of the water, often hidden under willows or alders. Thus they are vulnerable to the wakes of high speed motorboats. The beautiful checkerboard pattern of the adult is replaced, in the fall, with a grey winter plumage, with a grey head and white throat and belly, very similar to the first adult plumage of the youngsters. Loons are consummate fish-eaters, with waterproof plumage, and webbed feet placed far back on their bodies, making them very awkward on land, and they really only normally come to shore to nest, or if they are sick. They are vulnerable to botulism, a disease that can kill large numbers of waterbirds, and to entanglements with fishing line, and to lead poisoning from the lead weights on fishing line that has broken loose when large fish escape sport anglers. They are also sometimes caught and drowned in fishing nets, and although they are a protected species, some fishermen see them as competitors and persecute them. Overfishing can also have a negative impact on loon survival, but in balance they are such a well-loved bird that there is a great deal of effort put into protecting them, and monitoring their numbers. They winter along more southern shores, especially coastlines, and are commonly seen in the Gulf of Mexico, along the U.S. Atlantic seaboard and off the west coast. This painting is in acrylics on compressed hardboard, is nearly life-size and is 24 X 30 inches in size. The background shows one of my favourite plants to sketch and paint, the Fragrant Waterlily (Nymphaea odorata). SOLD.