Oil on Panel, 40" x 30", 2019
Orchid: Odontoglossum sanguineum
Bird: Loddigesia mirabilis
Native Range: Otcubamba Valley, Northern Peru
Conservation Status: Endangered
“This painting features the Marvelous Spatuletail hummingbird pollinating an orchid. Tiny and vibrant with iridescent plumage, hummingbirds have extraordinary appeal.
They are the smallest birds in the world with the highest metabolic rate of any warm-blooded mammal and have unique flying skills above any other bird.
The Marvelous Spatuletail is one of the world’s rarest hummingbirds; it is endangered and only occurs in the remote Utcubamba Valley in northern Peru. There are fewer than 1,500 of these birds left in the wild.
This hummingbird is named for its pair of elongated tail feathers called spatules, which the bird flashes flamboyantly in a courtship dance. The bird is about the size of a slightly puffy ping pong ball.
Hummingbirds are a keystone species for orchids, meaning species which are critical in maintaining the relationship and vitality of an ecosystem.
Orchids thrive in the high tropical jungles on the eastern slopes of the Andes in eastern Peru and in the cloud forest regions throughout the Andean area. They have been highly prized by Peruvian cultures for thousands of years, by both pre-Inca and Incan peoples.
During the time of the Incas, orchids were associated with royalty and grown in private gardens. It has even been told that young women would throw orchid flowers at the feet of princes as they passed.
Peru features 84 of the 103 biodiversity zones found on earth, so it has a wide variety of habitats suitable for many different species of orchids. More than 3,000 of the 30,000 known orchid species are found in Peru.
Even with 3,000 species, it’s estimated that only about 50% of Peruvian orchid species have been discovered.”