A bit of an interesting story behind this painting...
I've been working on some ornithological illustrations for an internship I'm just about to apply for, and decided to paint black kites. I had the wonderful opportunity to see these incredible birds in a flight show at the National Aviary, and took lots of great reference photos of them.
Before I even started sketching, I did what I always do before I paint a bird - I did research. I researched these black kites and came to a rather strange realization - these black kites' plumage was closer to that of a red
kite (Milvus milvus) than a black kite (Milvus migrans). Thinking perhaps they were misidentified, I researched the National Aviary website, and found they were identified, yes, as black kites. A bit more research, and I found that these were certainly black kites, due to the lack of a prominent forked tail, and lack of white patches under the wings.
So I began to paint, still not completely satisfied. After speaking with some other bird friends, we still couldn't come up with an answer, so I decided instead to finish up this painting of very red, black kites as a personal piece, and paint a different raptor for the portfolio.
So here we have the oddest black kites in the world. Are they a subspecies? A hybrid? I hope to find out someday! If you're interested in seeing some of the photographs of these kites, you can see them here:[link][link]
(shows the lack of forked tail and no white under the wings)Watercolor with a bit of acrylic on illustration board, 9 X 9.25 inches