desert flight

copyright megan spiers

Flock Bronzewing (Phaps histrionica)

copyright megan spiers
Desert Flight by Megan Spiers 2009
Acrylic on canvas, size 51 cm x 20 cm
SOLD – private collection, darwin, northern territory


Outback Australia is the definition of vast.

And the Mitchell Grasslands are an amazing part of this impressive landscape.

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 an important 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 closely observing Flock Bronzewings in the Territory Wildlife Park. I have placed him on a slight rise overlooking the grass plains, halfway through a good preening session with his feathers raised for sunning and a dust bath.

artist’s process

  • I use wildlife parks and zoos as a great source for visual references – anywhere from Sydney to Darwin, London, Kuwait, and Durrell Wildlife Park on Jersey island
  • where possible, I paint what I have seen, so as a result most birds portrayed in my art are real live specimens

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