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 Lady Ross' Plantain-Eaters (1999)

Acrylic on illustration board
15" x 36"
 Within the canopies of various types of Central African forests, Lady Ross' plantain-eater (Musophaga rossae) makes its home. Living in small groups, these brilliantly-colored birds leap and scramble nimbly about the branches and lianas as they forage for fruits and snails. As do their close relatives the touracos, plantain-eaters produce the unique feather pigment turacin, a copper compound the imparts an intense crimson color to their crests and primary feathers. It is commonly stated that this pigment is water soluble and can be washed out, but I've been unable to achieve this result, even by boiling feathers. Among the incidental animals in this piece are mousteched monkeys (Cercopithecus cephus), pygmy kingfisher (Ceyx picta) and the usual lacertid lizard Poromera fordii.