Paintings by Michael Morcombe range from large acrylic-on-canvas works, to finely-detailed watercolours on paper, for the 3,400 illustrations needed in his Field Guide to Australian Birds, to show the many plumage variations of the 850 species.

Wildlife Art

SPOTTED HARRIER Circus assimilis
Michael Morcombe Guide to Australian Birds, p 86, 365

A large raptor, often seen gliding low over spinifex grasslands or crops, wings upswept, and showing widely fingered black wingtips. At close range the barred and spotted, chestnut, rufous, blue-grey and white plumage make this one of the most colourful and most beautiful of Australian birds of prey. This raptor hunts low, 'harrying' small prey, of ground birds, mammals, and reptiles. Here it is shown having just passed over a pair of grasswrens (difficult to see in the low-resolution web image); Pilbara region of Western Australia. Identification illustrations, distribution map, habitats, nest and eggs, are all shown in the MM Guide, pages 86, 365.

Original painted in acrylic, on canvas.
Size: 74x50 centimetres (29x20 inches
 

BANDED STILTS
Cladorhynchus leucocephalus
Michael Morcombe Guide to Australian Birds, p. 128, 369

Banded Silts gather in large flocks on beaches, estuaries and shallows of vast lakes along parts of Australia's southern coast. Here they are shown on a broad sweep of beach near the mouth of the Fitzgerald River, with the Mt. Barren Range in background; south coast of Western Australia. This species breeds in response to heavy, rain at any time of the year, that floods the vast, usually dry clay pans of the arid interior. Low sandbar islands of these huge shallow lakes then become the breeding sites for colonies, often many thousands, of Banded Stilts. Original painted in acrylic on canvas.
Size 99x64 centimetres (39x30 inches).

SHINING FLYCATCHER Myiagra alecto

The female, left, is more colourful than the blue-black male, especially in the usually gloomy swamps that are often the habitat, having chestnut upperparts as well as blue-black head. But the male, when in a patch of direct sunlight, is quite magnificent, his plumage with a glossy iridescent blue sheen over deep blue and black. These are lively insect-hunters, fluttering about the foliage and near water in mangrove and paperbark swamps, and in dense creekside vegetation across northern Australia. See the Michael Morcombe Guide to Australian Birds, pages 298,405, where there are identification illustrations, distribution map, nest and eggs.
Original painted in acrylic, on canvas, size 101x64 cm (38x25 inches)

Brahminy Kite Haliastur indus

This painting shows two of these distinctive kites, the chestnut upperparts of their plumage bright under tropical sun, gliding in wind updrafts of high, steep Koolan Island, Kimberley region of Western Australia. In the distant background are other islands, and the rugged, rarely traversed mainland coast, deeply dissected by rivers, with huge gorges, cliffs, and in the wet season, waterfalls. The sea here has a huge rise and fall of tide, with extensive grey mud flats and mangrove swamps in bays and river estuaries. Along with abundant large crocodiles are birds not often seen, the Chestnut Rail, Great-billed Heron, and White-breasted Whistler. See mm Guide, p. 80, 362
Original painted in acrylic, on canvas, size 99x64 cm (39x25 inches)

Artwork: Book Illustrations

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