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.

Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens)

(Artwork - 107)
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 painting is acrylic on compressed wooden panel and is 12 by 9 inches. 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.

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Barry describes himself as a Canadian artist/writer/naturalist.
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