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.

Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)

Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)
(Artwork - 127)
Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)

This is the fourth and final image from a composite painting I completed earlier this year, showing four species of the blackbird family, Icteridae, that nest in Ontario. I've also attached an image of the whole painting.

While my paintings are, of course, for sale, I really did this for fun, and as an "homage" to the rather old style of bird-book illustration that was so powerfully influential on me when I was a child. Artists like Allan Brooks, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, D.M. Reid-Henry, Archibald Thorburn, Walter A. Weber and so many others were, and still are, my heroes. The need for such art, often used to illustrate books featuring a certain region, such as a state or country, has pretty well vanished, so I just pretend that need persists and the pleasure I derive from doing the work.

The Yellow-headed Blackbird reaches the eastern end of its current breeding range in extreme southwestern Ontario, in the region of Lake St. Clair, on the border with Michigan, but the species commonly nests in wetlands throughout most of western North America, in flatlands, marshes, prairie and high desert wetlands. It is migratory, with most of the population moving south into Mexico for the winter.

Although the first Yellow-headed Blackbird I ever saw was a female, in winter, near San Diego, within sight of the Mexican border, I first became truly familiar with the species in northern California near the border with Nevada, where they were common, and noisy. It is the only species of bird I've encountered whose vocalizations I can find irritating, which is odd since discordance does not normally bother me; I don't mind the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard, or screeching parrots in the jungle. But I'll happily endure it for a chance to see one of the most attractive North American birds, a species evocative of clean, open spaces out west, where one also hears Western Meadowlarks, who utter one of my favourite songs, again so reminiscent of the sage-scented western prairies.

I have shown an adult male (above) and female, both in breeding plumage. Nest site is chosen by the female within an overall territory selected by the male, in marshes, with the nest usually suspended among marsh plants over water. Both their range and breeding habitat choices overlap those of the Red-winged Blackbird (in the upper left of the composite painting; on the upper right is the Rusty Blackbird, with the Brewer's Blackbird on the lower left).

The birds were painted approximately life-size in acrylics on compressed hardboard.

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