Tricolored Blackbird and Song Sparrow by Kyle Netzeband

Location: 500 W 175th Street, New York, NY 10033

Painted: 07/21/23

About the Birds: Unlike its abundant Red-winged cousin, the Tricolored Blackbird is limited to a small range almost entirely in California, where its population has declined precipitously. The birds live in colonies consisting of at times more than 50,000 nests, sometimes just a couple feet apart. With the disappearance of their marsh habitat, Tricolored Blackbirds have come to rely on agricultural fields—and in turn, on private landowners, working in partnership with Audubon California, to protect the colonies. According to Audubon's climate model, the bird’s current summer range is forecast to decline by 92 percent by 2080, moving from the Central Valley into the hills of the Coast Range, and will be among those competing for water in a state beset by increasing drought.

In contrast the Song Sparrow is widespread and familiar in many areas of North America, where the streaky bird can be spotted flying from bush to bush with their distinctive, tail-pumping flight. While climate projections are somewhat more favorable for the Song Sparrow, people in a vast chunk of the country may no longer hear the males singing their melodious tune in breeding season. With 3 degrees Celsius of warming, 40 percent of their summer range, including nearly all of the Midwest and much of the East, may no longer be able to support them. Keeping warming to 1.5 degrees, however, preserves half of that.

About the Artist: Kyle Netzeband studied advertising at the University of Colorado at Boulder while developing a practice in painting, printmaking, and illustration. After graduating he spent several months traveling through Central and South America exploring the possibilities of his creative output, painting murals in exchange for places to stay. In the summer of 2010, Netzeband began teaching visual art through outreach opportunities with ASTEP (Artists Striving to End Poverty). In 2016, he had his first solo show at One Art Space in New York City. Currently, he is the co-founder and creative director at Arts On Site NYC and chief executive officer at Arts On Site Residency & Retreat. Netzeband’s choice of birds for the Audubon Mural Project was influenced by his attraction to the patterns and designs on their feathers.