When we hear or read about big birds of prey like eagles and hawks, it’s not uncommon to see terms like regal, majestic, dominant, powerful or aggressive associated with this group of avian wildlife. For small song birds terms like dainty, pretty, curious or shy might often be associated with their character. In many cases, when we really see these smaller wildlife species for who they really are these associations couldn’t be further from the truth. Small wildlife species like this Mountain Chickadee possess the same attitude and behaviour as species ten times their size. These little birds are as proud, regal and majestic as their larger predatory cousins, but our view of them can be skewed through paradigms in literature and art. In many cases, I think the smallest species maybe the most aggressive and territorial. Imagine a bird as territorial as a hummingbird being the size of a condor!
Rather than having a large bird of prey overlooking this majestic mountain view in this painting and perpetuating the stereotyping of birds, I really wanted to focus in the regal character of small birds and show how they possess the same character traits as larger birds. Perched on a limb, this Mountain Chickadee sits proudly over looking his mountain domain. With this as his territory, he likely feels as large an eagle. By seeing birds in this light, I hope that you will see them and other small animals in nature in a different light.
My favourite parts of this painting are the lumps of snow perched atop the clusters of pine needles. The sharp stiff needles of this Lodgepole Pine tree jut up through the snow and pin the clumps of snow in place. It makes me imagine a lump of fresh cookie dough being dropped onto the back of a porcupine. Like the chickadee, the snow sits perched on the branches for only a brief time. Soon a gust of wind coming down off the mountains will dislodge the snow clumps and the branches will spring up in reaction to their lost load. The largest snow clump that sits directly above the chickadee is poised to create a chain reaction snow slide and in a heart`s beat, the chickadee will flee before anything can reach him.