American Copper Butterfly: Lycaena phlaeas


June 28, 2012

I love making these little vintage stamp paintings. I've been including butterflies in the last 
few, because I have been trying to learn more about them. This one is an American Copper Lycaena phlaeas. Coppers are mainly found in northern regions of the north american continent. They're pretty tiny, but brightly colored. It is thought that the eastern populations were introduced from Europe. The larvae of the easterns mainly feed on sheep sorrel. I have seen these little guys flitting about my prairie patch in our backyard. 

The Paper Garden


June 27, 2012

I've been reading 'The Paper Garden' by Molly Peacock, a book I picked up while in NYC. At first I hesitated, because at a glance it seemed a bit quaint and precious. I must admit, I was little seduced by its cover. When I realized that the botanical image on the cover was not a painting, however, and in fact an incredibly intricate paper collage (or mosaick, the prefered term of its creator), I was intrigued. 

Mary Delaney born in 1700 to a British upper class family, created hundreds of these intricately layered paper botanical mosaicks. The botanicals, now housed in the British Museum, are extraordinary for their beauty, complexity and scientific accuracy. Even more astounding is that Delaney began to create them at the age of 72, four years after the death of her beloved, second husband.  Peacock weaves an elegant tapestry of Delaney's life, history, art, and the natural world. The resulting portrait is so vivid, that by the end of the book I felt as if Delaney was a long lost relative. 

The first and last images up above are 2 of Delaney's mosaicks. The center is a collage painting I made that was loosely inspired by her. 

Hyde Park Birding Prints Available


June 18, 2012

Hello, just a little head's up to let you know these prints are now available in the shop.

American Redstart : : Setophaga ruticilla


June 14, 2012

This is a species that I remember from when I was a little girl, and first started looking at a Peterson Field Guide. I couldn't believe then that a bird with such bright patches of orange could be seen in the Midwest. It seemed too exotic and tropical for this part of the world.

Now as an adult, I happily spot them quite often in Spring, with the most recent sighting a couple of days ago and steps from my home. Both male and female sport bright patches of orange (male) and yellow (female) on wings and tail feathers. They're extremely active little birds, flashing their wings and tails to flush out insect prey from tree foliage.

As you can see in my painting above, males have dark black plumage with bright orange patches, and the females are grey with yellow patches. I just recently learned, however, that yearling males have the same plumage as the females. Their breeding range covers a large swath of the North American continent, and wintering ranges cover areas in Central and South America, Mexico, and the Greater Antilles.

As far as the Chicago area, I have seen them at the Montrose Bird Sanctuary (aka the Magic Hedge), Wooded Isle in Hyde Park, and along the Northshore Canal in the Evanston arboretum.

Thanks for checking in and have a lovely weekend.



June 11, 2012

I am fascinated by the polar regions and Arctic cultures. I had this little vintage Canadian stamp, and used it as a starting point for this painting. Kimmirut is a very small town in Nunavut territory. It's one of those places I long to visit, but really, I have no idea what I would be getting myself in to. I know there is a lot of strife and struggle in these places, but the fantasy persists (in my mind) that people are able to hold on to their traditions and culture.

It's a sleepy Monday over here at Tiny Aviary headquarters. Hope yours is more caffeinated and alert!

Red Bat : : Lasiurus borealis


June 06, 2012

The spring bird migration is winding down here. Still many species coming through the Chicago area as they migrate to northern breeding grounds, but less so than a few weeks ago.

Bird are not the only critters migrating during the spring. There are several species of bats that travel through our area as well. One of the most common bat migrants is the little Red Bat Lasiurus borealis.
Red bats are so named for the reddish to orangish color of their fur, with the males being deeper in color. They feed on moths, beetles, ants, and other insects, and with the exception of migration and breeding seasons, they are solitary in nature. It's known as a tree bat, roosting in deciduous trees, and sometimes the occasional conifer tree.

Due to their use of echolocation, bats, unlike migrating birds, are less prone to colliding with larger buildings in urban areas such as Chicago. It does happen, though.  My daughter's baby sitter showed me a photo she had taken of a little red bat she had found sitting on the sidewalk near a friend's apartment in downtown Chicago. She didn't know what it was, and said that the poor little guy was just sitting there, a bit disoriented. Once we ascertained that it was a Red Bat, I spoke with a couple biologists at the Field Museum. One said that when bats collide with buildings, it usually just stuns them for a bit. But that if they end up on the ground, they can get cold and go in to a sort of torpor. When this particular individual would find one, he would pick it up and warm it up in his gloved hands. Once warmed the bat would come out of its torpor and fly off. I am by NO means recommending that anyone should pick up a bat, especially if they are not a trained wildlife professional, but it made me feel good to know that these little guys had someone out there helping them.

To learn more about bats in general check the wonderful Bat Conservation International site.

I will be at the Field Museum tomorrow (Thursday), and so if you follow me on instagram or twitter I'll be posting a few photos.

Prothonotary Warbler : : Prothonotaria citrea


June 05, 2012

I worked on a Prothonotary Warbler in the bird lab, last week at the Field Museum. Like everything else I work on, it was an unfortunate window kill. It was an adult female that was at least a year old. I had come across Prothonotaries in the lab before, but knew little about this species of warbler. They have amazingly bright yellow plumage, and thus their name refers to the yellow cloaks worn by Roman Catholic papal clerks (prothonotaries).

P. citrea prefers wet habitat: swamps, bottomland hardwood forests, and mangrove forests. It winters in mangrove forests of Central and South America, and breeds in bottomland hardwood forests mainly in the Southeastern US. They are supposedly the only wood warbler species that will nest in tree cavities, often using holes previously excavated by woodpeckers.

As they require pretty specific habitat, their survival depends on us preserving it. There have been nesting box programs that have some amount of success in boosting breeding populations. It remains to be seen, however, how the effects of loss of wintering habitat in Central and South America will affect their numbers.

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