Wildlife inspires passionate artist

By René C. Reyes

There was a painting that hung on a wall at my aunt’s house that depicted two birds, a yellowish brown bird and a blue colored bird. I was fascinated by it. I did not know what species they were but it had made enough of an impression on me that I copied it with my crayons. It was my very first “bird art”. I was four at that time. Thirty-five years later, my fascination for birds is stronger than ever and it has flourished into a career in avian fine art. It has also brought me to a realization that my career relies heavily on the conservation of wildlands and farmlands, two places that birds are most plentiful.

Migrating birds seek food and protection in areas with water. The smooth movements of a Tundra Swan as it glides along on rice fields or the preening of a Sandhill Crane (Figure 1) on a flooded field, inspire me to depict these birds in simple watercolor paintings. Where there is open land, it also brings other species such as Red-tailed Hawks (Figure 2) that scan the horizon for its next meal or tidings of Yellow-billed Magpies (Figure 3) that add color to tilled cornfields. In essence, these birds would not be here without the open fields.

As custodians of the land, we have the power to protect these habitats not just for the benefit of birds but also for future generations to enjoy. As I watch my youngest daughter copy my painting of a bird hanging on the wall, I pray that we will leave land that is not made of concrete, but of soil and water which are the first ingredients of life.

About the artist: René C. Reyes is an avian artist from the Central Valley. A portion of bird art sales are donated to land conservation. Learn more about his paintings at: