flock bronzewing

Desert Flight

Flock Bronzewing (Phaps histrionica)

Size 51 cm x 20 cm

Acrylic on canvas


Outback Australia is the definition of vast. Within its impressive range, the Mitchell Grasslands are amazing.

Characterised by open grassy plains with few rivers and gorges, the Mitchell Grass Downs bioregion extends from central Queensland into the Northern Territory and is part of Australia’s pastoral heritage. It takes a long time to drive there from the coast but it’s worth the effort. I have travelled through Mitchell Grass country from Longreach to Muttaburra and Hughenden, and the inlier region of Mount Isa. The scenery is awe-inspiring.

As their name suggests, Flock Bronzewings gather in huge flocks after rain and although their numbers appear to be declining, they are not yet listed as vulnerable.

I painted this specimen after observing Flock Bronzewings in the Territory Wildlife Park south of Darwin. Zoos and parks are useful for collecting references. I placed the bird on a slight rise overlooking the grass plains, mid-preening session with its feathers puffed for sunning and a dust bath. I added more black feathers to its head by request of the client. The painting hangs in an off-grid house surrounded by tropical woodland.

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