Barry Kent MacKayArt by Barry Kent MacKay
Art and Photo Presentation

In this section are copies of original works of art. All of them are dedicated to helping us live according to unconditional love and compassion, which is the foundation of our peaceful means of bringing true and lasting peace to all of God's creatures, whether they are human beings or other animals.

Lagger Falcon (Falco jugger)

Barry MacKay falcon
(Artwork - 101)
Lagger Falcon (Falco jugger)

There are many suggestions made to artists of various groups, including those of us who specialize in painting birds and other wildlife species, in order to enhance sales (that is one reason why I don’t want to produce “prints”, which have to sell enough to cover costs, and that means the market dictating what I paint), and we are told it is not a good idea to show predatory animals with prey, to do unfamiliar non-native species, or to show snakes.

I broke all those “rules” with this painting, my first completed in 2016. It shows a species of falcon native to India, and adjoining countries of the indomalayan region, from extreme southeastern Iran east a far as Burma. They can be found in a wide range of habitats, but are typically in arid scrub and rocky regions and dry woodlands.

In this painting I show the predator, the falcon, partly into a behavior called “mantling”. This occurs among various birds of prey, including hawks and eagles, when they make a fresh kill. They will sort of hunch over their prey and partly spread their wings, as if trying to hide it. In fact, the predominate theory is that is exactly what they seek to do, so that competing predators that might be in the sky above can’t see that they have made a kill. It is as good an explanation as any.

I get tired of people telling me that “nature is cruel”, usually as justification for abuse of animals. Nature is not cruel, but totally indifferent, as Charles Darwin so brilliantly understood. I wanted to make that point by showing the falcon as I’ve seen them, not savage, but going about the act of eating. I de-personalized the prey by putting the head out of view over the rock. In some of my preliminary sketches I showed the head of the snake, but I didn’t want to draw attention to it as a suffering individual; from the falcon’s perspective it is essential food, just as a small bird would be to the snake. Like other large falcons Laggers take a wide range of prey species, but more than most falcon species they go after reptiles. The snake is a widely distributed, harmless species known as the Indian (or Common) Cat Snake, Boiga trigonata. It is a highly variable species, long and slender, with very large eyes featuring vertical pupils. It, like the falcon, is found in a variety of habitats in the region.

I grew up being taught that falcons are related to hawks and eagles, but with modern DNA analysis we now know they are not at all closely related to such birds, but are more closely affiliated with parrots and owls. It seems that the “mantling” behaviour must have evolved independently in both groups of birds, along with the talons and hooked beaks.

The painting is in acrylics, on a wooden panel, mounted on a wooden frame, and is approximately life size. The birds weigh from about 525 to 850 grams (roughly one and a half pounds).

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Copyright © Barry Kent MacKay
Barry describes himself as a Canadian artist/writer/naturalist.
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