Sparrow Montage

Sparrow Montage - Birds and Mammals
Sparrow montage (pen & ink, 1989). Signed limited edition of 200 on fine card. W22 x H21cm. £25.

Birds likes sparrows and gulls have always captured my imagination because they are taxonomic conundrums, where species are poorly-defined and therefore challenging to identify, name and categorise. When I drew this picture, most bird books classified the Italian Sparrow Passer italiae (lower right and another face-on to its left) as a race of the beautifully marked Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis (top and bottom images) rather than the House Sparrow Passer domestica (European form with white collar extreme left and right, head of white-cheeked Oriental form near top). However, in places like Crete (where I observed and sketched Spanish and Italian Sparrows in close proximity) they act as two different species with the Italian Sparrow concentrated in the towns and villages and the Spanish Sparrow in the orchards and shrublands. Recent DNA analysis seems to have cracked it – the Italian Sparrow is a new species that originated as a hybrid between Spanish and House Sparrows but now tends to breed true.
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