Barry Kent MacKayArt by Barry Kent MacKay
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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.

Mangrove Swallow (Tachycineta albilinea)


Mangrove Swallow (Tachycineta albilinea)
(Artwork - 139)
Mangrove Swallow (Tachycineta albilinea)

On April 27, 1972, I was standing at the edge of a pond in Taboga, near Caņas, in Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica, admiring a swirling flock of swallows that appeared almost, but not quite, familiar. "They look like Tree Swallows," I said to my two companions, Gary F. Stiles and Lloyd Kiff, both ornithologists far more familiar than I with local birds. But I knew that it was a species new to me, closely related to our native Ontario Tree Swallows, but with a white rump, like our western Violet-Green Swallow, but clearly not that, either.

In the hand I could see lots of subtle features including a very narrow (and highly variable) white "eyebrow" (supraloral) streak extending from the beak to the top of the eye. This species is smaller and darker on the back than the Tree Swallow, but shares with it, the Violet-Green and other closely related species -- all nine members of the genus, Tachycineta, which translates from the ancient Greek into "quickly moving", and is therefore very apt -- the combination of a dark, glossy-green or green-blue back and white underparts. The species name, albilinea, is from Latin and means "white line", referring to the thin, white supraloral line that I only noticed when holding a bird.

Typical of its genus the Mangrove Swallow nests in cavities, such as old woodpecker holes, fairly near the ground. As true of too many birds that catch flying insects -- the primary food of the species -- it is in decline, but still listed as a species of "least concern" by the International Union of Conservation for Nature (IUCN). Now, I would suggest, is the time to worry about it, before it is "officially" a "species of concern", and I would further suggest the problem is overuse of insecticides killing off so many once common, and harmless, insect species. The species ranges from Mexico south to South America, including Peru. This small swallow only weighs about 14 grams, or about half an ounce.

The painting is approximately life-size, 10 by 8 inches, on compressed hardboard, in acrylics.

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Copyright © Barry Kent MacKay
Barry describes himself as a Canadian artist/writer/naturalist.
See his website: http://barrykentmackay.ca/

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