Morris had painted birds quite often since the 1920s. Here he shows a variety of dead or dying birds in a desolate landscape. A rook and moorhen are in the foreground, and a male partridge dominates the centre of the composition. Morris made the work in response to the devastating effects of certain crop-sprays and pesticides on the bird population. Some of his friends have recalled his anger and frustration at the pitiful destruction of birdlife around his home at Benton End in Suffolk. The ill-effects of some pesticides were first noticed in the mid-1950s. By the end of the decade large numbers of birds were found dead in the fields.
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