State Birds of the USA – a map painting of all the US state birds
£40.00 – £1,595.00
An original watercolour painting. Signed prints available on 200gsm archival quality paper, printed with UV stable inks and signed by the artist in two sizes. Comes to you rolled in a sturdy postal tube. Prices included P&P to UK addresses.
US CUSTOMERS! A signed print (inc signed and tracked postage) to USA is $70. Email me (click here) to order.
UK customers: From the dropdown below, choose either print size A2 (420 x 594mm/23.39 x 16.53 inches), or buy the original.
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State birds of the USA painting
Every US state has a ‘totemic’ state bird, state flower, state mammal, and so on. They are often proudly displayed on the state’s flag and insignia. Here in the UK we don’t even have a national bird, let alone regional ones! I had intended to visit the US in 2017 as it marks 50 years since my first visit, but it didn’t happen. This painting of US state birds is my way of visiting the US in my mind and meeting some of its avifauna. It’s also intended to delight my American friends, some of whom I was so looking forward to going birding with.
The most popular state bird is the Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis), the chosen bird of seven states Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia. Rather than paint it seven times, I have painted it twice, a female and a male, overlapping it into its adopted states.
It’s a similar story for the gorgeous Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta). Six states have this yellow-breasted beauty: Kansas, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Oregon, and Wyoming. But I have painted it only three times doing various things – singing, flying, perching handsomely – again overlapping it into its home states.
Also very popular is the Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos). I wouldn’t mindbetting this is due to their natural curiosity and their amazing singing skills. Their latin name translates to ‘many-tongued mimic’. Five states – Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas – favour this bird.
The American robin (Turdus migratorius) is state bird of three states: Connecticut, Michigan, and Wisconsin. And the American goldfinch (Spinus tristis) is the chosen emblem of Iowa, New Jersey, and Washington.
I applaud Oklahoma for loving the scissor-tailed flycatcher. I once was thrilled to see one of these perched on the airport perimeter fence at Belize City. And hats off to Alabama for choosing the spectacular Northern flicker. I’m a such a fool a woodpecker! But the wonder to me is that no US state chose a hummingbird!
John James Audubon
At the foot of the painting, floating in the Gulf of Mexico you’ll see a little cartouche of John James Audubon who will be familiar to US readers, but perhaps not so for those outside the US. Audubon was a pioneering naturalist, field scientist, and has gone down in history as the finest illustrator of birds the world will (surely?) ever see. He is author and illustrator of the Birds of America, the most expensive and exquisite book in the world, and gives his name to the Audubon Society, an American non-profit conservation organization.
The passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) was once the most numerous bird on the planet. I’ve sneaked in a couple of them just to the right of the banner at the top of the painting. I have deliberately left them unlabelled. They lived in vast flocks which ranging across the forests of the eastern US. At its maximum there were maybe 3 to 5 billion birds! But in the course of just 100 years it became extinct, due to reckless hunting, nobody caring, and devastating habitat loss through deforestation. The story of the rapid decline and extinction of this gorgeous bird haunts me. If a species as numerous as this can so easily be wiped out we cannot be complacent about any species.
For a full list of US state birds paintings go here.