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.

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)

red-winged blackbird
(Artwork - 122)
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)

This is part of what I call a “composite” painting; one that shows several “vignettes” of various species with something in common…in this case all members of the family Icteridae, a diverse group of over 100 species, all native to the western hemisphere. The subject, the Red-winged Blackbird is one of the most widely distributed and best known bird species in North America. They are found from Alaska east to Newfoundland and Labrador and from the Yukon south as far as the West Indies and southern central America. Northern birds are quite migratory. There are over twenty different races, some rather distinct in markings and calls. I’ve shown the nominate race that breeds in much of the north-eastern part of the range, migrating into the south-eastern for the winter (although a few remain in southern Canada).

The painting shows an adult male in breeding plumage, calling, and the smaller female, who is streaked and often mistaken by non-birders for a different species. They are found in diverse open habitats, including parks, gardens, orchards and farmlands, and frequent bird feeders, but tend to nest in cattail marshes or among reeds in marshy areas.

The bright red feathers at the bend of the male’s wing, called the lesser wing coverts, form what is often referred to as epaulets (named after the shoulder decorations on military uniforms) and when the bird is at rest they are often covered by overlapping contour body feathers, although the light yellowish or ivory-yellow middle wing coverts are visible, often forming a band or wing bar. When the bird flies or displays, they become dramatically visible. In some subspecies that pale band is nearly or quite absent, and they are known colloquially as “bi-colored blackbirds”. I’ve seen many such birds in California, where they occur.

The painting is in acrylics on compressed hardboard, and is approximately life-size, the male weighing roughly 70 grams the female closer to 40 grams. This image has been very slightly altered to remove an adjoining, overlapping image. Eventually I will post the entire painting.

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