Extinct & Almost Extinct: Oregon Silverspot Butterfly

-The following painting with notes is from my Extinct & Almost Extinct project –

extinct - oregon silverspot butterfly - 2015-12-12 at 11-13-16

Oregon Silverspot Butterfly-

saved from extinction-

The Oregon Silverspot Butterfly historically ranged from Washington to northern California. Their habitat is along the coast in salt-spray meadows. This beautiful medium-size butterfly is dependent on its only host plant, the early blue violet. A female lays about 200 eggs in vegetation near the blue violet and the larvae feed on the early blue violet leaves, no other plant will suffice. The adults normally move out of the meadows into fringe brush for heat conservation and nectar feeding.

Only a few places in Oregon and northern California now host populations. Habitat destruction led to listing the butterfly as a threatened species in 1990. The reduction of suitable habitat has been caused by multiple factors: residential and business expansion with their parking areas and lawns, public parkland development and traffic, overgrazing, and the use of off-road vehicles. In the past wildfires and wild animal grazing helped to keep the meadows open.

Today efforts are being made to actively maintain and nurture the salt-land meadows that support the Oregon Silverspot Butterfly. These include mowing, burning, and planting native plants in the meadows. A captive breeding program was begun in 1999 by several Northwest zoos. These breeding programs involve raising the butterfly to the pupae stage and then releasing them into areas with declining populations. Up to 2000 pupae have been released each year, augmenting the butterfly population and increasing the possibility of survival for this lovely creature.



Extinct & Almost Extinct: Western Lily

The following is one of the paintings with notes from my Extinct & Almost Extinct project –

extinct - western lily - 2015-12-05 at 11-50-57

Western Lily –

endangered –

The Western Lily is a perennial flower that reaches a height of five feet. It can be distinguished from other native lilies by its unique coloring, non-spreading stamens, and unbranched bulb. It grows at the edges of marshes, in poorly drained forests or thickets, and in coastal prairie and scrub forest near the ocean. In 1987 only 25 populations survived in an area that extends for 200 miles in southern Oregon and northern California. In 1994 it was listed as an endangered species by the federal government.

A number of factors have combined to threaten the survival of the Western Lily; the clearing and draining of wetlands, the development of cranberry agriculture, competition by shrubs and trees for suitable growing sites, and the collection of its bulbs by lily growers, breeders, and other horticultural enthusiasts.

The primary effort to restore the Western Lily is to establish populations within protected and managed areas. To save the lily a coalition of federal, state, and local governments, industry, and private landowners is needed. Twenty areas have been designated as viable places for populations to exist, and the goal is to have 1,000 plants in each area. To create suitable habitat, programs have been developed for controlled cattle and goat grazing, manual clearing, conservation easements, and a genetic management plan to enhance the population. These efforts offer promise for the survival of this beautiful flower.

Extinct & Almost Extinct – Key Deer

The following is a painting and text from my ongoing project Extinct & Almost Extinct —extinct - key deer - 2015-11-17 at 10-30-52

Key Deer –
saved from extinction –

This diminutive sub-species of the white-tailed deer, sometimes called the “Toy Deer,” stands 24” to 32” at the shoulder and weighs 50-75 pounds. It once lived throughout the Florida Keys but is now found primarily on Big Pine Key. The Key Deer inhabit pine forests, mangroves, and freshwater wetlands. Males live about three years while females can live to six years. Occasionally they swim between islands in search of freshwater. Their favorite foods includes mangrove tree leaves and thatch palm berries. By the 1950’s only around 50 of the little deer survived. The National Key Deer Refuge was formed in 1953 and when the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1966 the deer became one the first species protected. Now around 600-700 deer inhabit the area.

The future of the deer is far from certain and they are still listed as an endangered species. There is a continuing loss of habitat due to increased human development in the area and road traffic kills an average of 45 deer a year. They have a lack of fear of humans that draws them into communities and dangers such as free-roaming dogs. The destruction of hurricanes and the diminishment of habitat by global warming also threaten their survival. Hope lies in people being able to coexist with the little deer and there are signs of that with increased land-use regulation and habitat protection.

Extinct & Almost Extinct — Peregrine Falcon

The following is one of the paintings and text from my ongoing project Extinct & Almost Extinct: 50 Paintings.

American Peregrine Falcon, 12" X 12", acrylic on paper, 2015, Mark W. McGinnis
American Peregrine Falcon, 12″ X 12″, acrylic on paper, 2015, Mark W. McGinnis

–American Peregrine Falcon —
–saved from extinction —

One of the fastest birds in the world, the Peregrine falcon can reach speeds of 200 miles an hour as it dives toward it’s flying prey, snatching it from the air. This spectacular hunting style has made it a favorite of falconers and biologists alike. Peregrines are one of the most widely ranging birds in the world inhabiting all the world’s continents but the Antarctica.

The crow-sized falcon mates for life and the females are about a third larger than the males. They do not build nests but lay their eggs in depressions called scrapes often on the ledges of cliffs.

There may have been as many as 4,000 nesting pairs of American peregrines until the 1940’s when the extensive use of DDT as a pesticide began in many countries. This chemical was used to eliminate insects in agriculture and also to control mosquitoes and lice that cause the spread of disease. As the chemical accumulated in the birds that the falcons ate, the egg shells of the peregrine became thin and nesting failure became endemic. By 1975 the American falcon had lost 90% of its population with only 324 known nesting pairs. Concerted conservation efforts including the ban of DDT and extensive captive breeding and reintroduction efforts in the U.S., Canada and Mexico has led to the increase in population to 2,000 to 3,000 nesting pairs in North America. The bird was removed from the U.S. endangered and threatened list in 1999. In their search for prey some peregrines have moved into cities to hunt pigeons. Artificial scrapes on high buildings have been created for the birds by welcoming city dwellers who encourage the falcons to lower pigeon populations.