Sonny’s ‘Fight or Flight’ Mural is a Special Tribute to the Aplomado Falcon, Downtown Houston 2022

The internationally renowned South African artist Sonny Behan, aka Sonny Sundancer, is known for his majestic and intricate large-scale wildlife murals painted across the globe. His passion for using his creative voice to raise awareness for important societal and environmental issues has also built him a reputation for being an engaged artist driven by a desire to make an impact.

Sonny’s newly completed 10,000 sqft mural, ‘Fight or Flight, ‘ painted in downtown Houston is a special tribute to the Aplomado Falcon. As apex predators, these already endangered birds are sadly at the top of the list when it comes to species most vulnerable to climate change. 

The Aplomado Falcon was placed on the Endangered Species List in 1986 and is the last falcon in the United States currently on this list. Sonny Sundancer’s mural draws particular attention to the northern aplomado falcon in South Texas. The causes for decline of this subspecies have included widespread shrub encroachment resulting from control of range fires, intense overgrazing, and agricultural development in grassland habitats used by the falcon.

Sonny captures the birds colours in his unique style of abstract elements and splashes of colour. Aplomado is an unusual Spanish word for “lead-coloured”, referring to the blue-grey areas of the plumage. The birds resemblance in shape to the hobbies bird accounts for its old name, orangechested hobby.

“I wanted to depict the bird (dis)appearing into reality as a way to show their resilience in the face of an uncertain future. I hope that the mural is a reminder of why we need to do what we can to help protect these birds and all natural habitats around the world.” SONNY

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, there are conservation efforts to save the Aplomado Falcon, providing hope for improving the chances for this endangered population’s survival.

The mural was painted as part of the Big Art Bigger Change project that saw nine large-scale murals painted in the heart of Houston curated by Street Art For Mankind.

Photo Credit Tony Moreno



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