The Pyrrhuloxia is a first cousin of the Northern Cardinal and is a frequently seen bird in southern Arizona. The name of the bird comes from two words: pyrrhos (flame-colored) and loxos, which refers to the reddish highlight in the feathers, mostly in the long red crest, breast, and tail feathers. The bird also differs from the Cardinal because of its curved parrot-like bill. Males are greyer-colored and females are browner-colored, frequently mistaken for female Cardinals. I wanted to carve a simple presentation of this colorful desert bird focusing on the brightness of the red contrasting with the dullness of the grey.
In small rural communities, it is often the volunteer fire-fighter that shows up first, and leaves last! Sometimes their equipment and training are a bit sketchy but their “can-do” spirit is not….even if they might be a bit “over-the-hill”!
I hope you can see a little of the tension with this gunfighter….caught in the moment when the next move is up to the other guy!
This is a common but frequently overlooked bird throughout the U.S. The courtship flight of the male begins with an upward arc and audible wing clapping and ends in a glide with a flamboyant tail display. I wanted to capture that moment in wood. I cannot express the difficulties of carving these two birds…the female at rest and the male displaying. Carving the open wings and tail required some innovative “engineering” solutions. Mounting the male so that the feet are free trying to capture that “one important moment” while the female seems rather unimpressed was a real challenge. And, if you think doves are just plain grey and brown birds, think again! Painting the subtleties of the coloration nearly drove me nuts! This carving took me several hundred hours to complete over 6 months. This is a special pair of rather common birds!
I carved this full-size head sculpture out of basswood using only knives and hand gouges concentrating on the unruly nature of the head feathers trying to capture the flow and disarray rather than intricate detail. The Bald Eagle has a more “bulbous” beak and a wider mouth gape than other eagles and the focused glare and “challenge” of the eyes adds to the boldness of the piece. Only a hint of the body flows from the head to the base.