Sunday, August 7, 2016

Two Female Eclectus Parrots and Two Male Black Grouse Birds




Some years ago my husband and I enjoyed a holiday in Wales, UK. After long walks, we would sit down in the evening on a stone jetty overlooking the Afon Mawddach, which looks like a loch, but opens up to the Irish sea. Two swans and one goose would come up to us for some bread. As we built up this routine, we started to question this odd trio. Luckily we found a British RSPB officer to enlighten us on the unusual swan couple with its tag-on goose. Why weren't the swans breeding and why had they adopted this goose? Why did they stay together, goose and swans?

The RSPB officer told us that local conservationists had the same questions and that, while the goose and swans were ringed, blood was drawn and sent to a lab. Reported back was that both swans were male. This, as we had expected, was a homosexual swan couple that had kindly adopted a lonely goose. We laughed out loud, because somehow we had known this, but how could we know for sure? We continued feeding the swans and goose till the end of our holiday.

Did you know that close to 10% of all species (not only humans and birds) is homosexual? That bird homosexual behaviour has lots of different causes and reasons? And that we often fail to see that with birds. This is because not all bird species show visible differences between male and female birds- many male and female birds have the same plumage and only behaviour (or a blood draw) will help to notice gender differences.

Recently I thought about my bird drawings and my Etsy shop exclusively with heterosexual bird couples. I reflected; 'I'm missing out on the 10% of birds that is homosexual, and that isn't kind'. My thoughts went back to Wales, to the swans of Afon Mawddach and I decided to draw a gay and lesbian bird couple.

Choosing two colourful male birds was easy; I chose two Black Grouse. Finding colourful female birds turned our to be more difficult because female birds tune down their colours in order to stay unnoticed while breading and rearing chicks. My niece, Jenna, soon to be a Veterinary Assistant and already working as a zookeeper advised me; ‘The Eclectus Parrot’. Well, if you don’t know which bird that is, as me, and you google ‘Eclectus roratus’ you get a very enjoyable and colourful result. See, the male Eclectus is green and the female is blue-red.

For a long time ornithologist thought that the green males and blue-red females were different parrot species. It is unusual for a female bird to differ from her male counterparts and if they do differ, they aren’t wearing bold colours. My Eclectus parrots wear golden rings. Gold, really? Yes, you can’t possible give a dull ring when they, themselves, are so outrageously dressed up in the finest colours of cobalt, ultramarine, indigo and light blue as well as scarlet, wine, crimson and rose red.

I hope my Black Grouse and Eclectus Parrots add an extra and kind dimension to my Etsy bird drawing portfolio and print collection. 

Paula Kuitenbrouwer
www.mindfuldrawing.com

Prints at Etsy




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