Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 2001


Published in Great Plains Research 11:1 (Spring 2001). Copyright © 2001 Center for Great Plains Studies.


John O'Neill is unique: the only active professional bird artist who is also a world-class ornithologist. He is thus a kind of reincarnation of George M. Sutton, O'Neill's mentor and the idol of thousands of lovers of birds and fine bird art. Since graduating from the University of Oklahoma, O'Neill has repeatedly visited the Peruvian tropics, discovering more than a dozen species (more than any other living biologist) and illustrating hundreds more for field guides and other ornithological books. His subjects are generally more detailed, and his palette brighter, than Sutton's, but he is able to use white space and vegetational backgrounds just as effectively as did Sutton himself.