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Great Tinamou (1994)

Acrylic on illustration board
20" x 15"


 Tinamous comprise an order of chicken-like birds found strictly in the Americas. Fowl of surprising density, considering the fact that they can fly reasonably well, they are probably more closely related to the ostrich-like rheas than to any other living group. The great tinamou (Tinamou major) is a shy bird that lays its beautiful turquoise eggs between the butresses of a large rainforest tree like this Hymenolobium. The haunting, mellifluous whistle of this bird is a common evening sound in most neotropical lowland rainforests of any size, and I tried to convey in this painting some of the mournful, mysterious mood it evokes in me. On the ground an ameiva lizard (Ameiva festiva) basks while a yellow eyelash viper (Bothriechis schlegelii) lurks in the foliage above. The huge liana draped about the tree trunks is the spectacular monkey ladder (Bauhinia guianensis).