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Some island species

Ria Winters | Jul 23, 2011


Since the time I've started to paint parrots, many years ago, I grew more and more fond of island species. One reason is their unique individual appearance and the other their almost consistently threatened status. Many island species are rare and under threat of habitat loss, trapping and even hurricane damage. To me this acts as a sort of magnet; a rare species is a challenge to portray on canvas or paper simply because of the lack of live reference. I also feel that threatened species earn a place in the art world just to give evidence of their existence because there seems to be mass oblivion (not among parrot lovers) about the almost extinction of several species especially if they live in remote parts of the world.
So here are a few of my island species.

This is a watercolour of the Cuban Amazon Amazona leucocephala.

The genus consists of five subspecies of which the nominate A.leucocephala is the most well known because they are sometimes kept in bird parks and this is how it ended up in one of my paintings. It lives in Cuba; the other subspecies live on other Caribbean islands.
IUCN Rating: near-threatened.

Another amazon: the St. Vincent Amazon (Amazona guildingii) which is much rarer than the Cuban Amazon. So far this is my favourite amazon species because of its colours that are so different than any of its relatives. These two were in Miami's Parrot Jungle; it was the first and only time I saw them.
Its habitat is restricted to the island of St. Vincent in the Lesser Antilles, West Indies
IUCN Rating: vulnerable.

The Kakapo (Strigops habroptilus), until recently one of the rarest parrots in the world and it still is with 131 individuals alive in the wild. It is a flightless ground dweller with the most remarkable behaviour. It lives in New Zealand, now restricted (translocated) to the recovery program on Maud Island. My inspiration ...? The DVD of the World Parrot Trust!
IUCN Rating: critically endangered.