Raptors of the World: Harris’s Hawk

Parabuteo unicinctus.

Found in semi-open desert regions. Often among mesquite, saguaro, and organ pipe cactus. This fascinating raptor is one of the few social predators in the animal kingdom. They hunt in groups, from two to six for rabbits, squirrels, and birds. Utilizing strategic methods of flushing and ambushing prey. They also work as a group to defend large carrion from coyotes and other predators.

Not only do they hunt in groups, but they also nest in groups. As many as three adults feeding one nest. Nests are built high in mesquite trees, on man made structures or cliff sides. Laying 1-5 eggs per clutch.

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Hawks of the World: Sharp-shinned Hawk

Accipiter striatus.

North America’s smallest hawk species can be found in forested and occasionally urban areas. Their long tails and short wings help them maneuver through trees in pursuit of their main food source, small birds. The prey is usually caught on the wing and killed with talons. Then carried to a branch where the feathers are removed. Unlike owls who consume birds with feathers and bones, sharp-shinned hawks pluck all the feathers before dinning. They can be found occasionally at bird feeders showing up to catch feeding birds off guard. I’ve watched a sharp-shinned climb through a bush to get to the house sparrows hiding inside. They’re rather determined little raptors.

This was a fun painting to put together over the last couple evenings. I’ve been enjoying getting back to North America’s raptors in between all the water colors of raptors of the world. Thanks again for looking at birds with me.

 

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Watercolor and pen study.

 

Raptors of the World: Harpy Eagle (again)

This apex predator is a rare sight in the rainforests of South and Central America. They hunt mostly large mammals such as monkeys and sloths. They also take large birds, lizards, and snakes. They hunt from a perch then attack from a stoop. Striking their prey with talons as large as grizzly bear claws. Arguably one of the strongest eagles at least in its range. Distinguishable by its two crests on each side of its head. Both sexes are alike in plumage but like many other raptors, females are larger.

They build large stick nests as high in the canopy as possible. The average clutch is two eggs. Young Harpy Eagles are dependent on their parents for over a year after hatching so most pairs mate biyearly.

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We took our first look at harpy eagles here back in September of 2017. Since then I’ve finished up a few more illustrations and readings and decided it’d be fun to make another large harpy eagle painting. So thanks for taking another look at this apex predator of the Central and South American rainforests with me!

Hawks of the World: Red Shouldered Hawk

Buteo lineatus.

Definitely one of my favorite birds to watch and paint. Found across eastern North America and along the California coast south into Mexico. Hunting from a perch and on the wing. They take a variety of prey, ranging from small mammals, birds, insects, snakes and occasionally fish.  Found in forested and open areas. Nests are built of branches in treetops at 35-50 feet up. They lay usually 3 eggs per clutch.

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RSHA map

Thanks a bunch for looking at birds with me. We covered this bird already here something like three years ago and I felt it was time to have another go at painting this bird as I’ve learned a lot since the last time. I’m glad I did, this was very fun to put together.

Raptors of the World: African Harrier-Hawk

African Harrier-Hawk or African Gymnogene. These large birds of prey are found in most regions south of the Sahara. They Feed on oil palm fruits, and uses its long double jointed legs to reach into dead trees and crevices to steal eggs or snatch at small mammals, reptiles, and insects. Also hunts from a perch or even walking on the ground. They build stick nests and lay 1-3 eggs per clutch. 


Afri Har Hawk

Thanks for looking at birds with me!

Falcons of the World: Bat Falcon

The Bat Falcon Falco rufigularis.  These smaller falcons can often be found on a high perch in open woodlands. Hunting at dawn and dusk, taking bats, small birds, and flying insects like dragonflies. The smaller male takes mostly insects while the larger female takes more bats and birds. 

 

Their range is quite extensive from southern Mexico down south as far as Paraguay. Preferring tropical rainforest, woodlands, and occasionally semi-arid areas.

 

Thanks for looking at birds with me. 

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Here’s a photo I took at Chicago’s Field Museum of their Bat Falcon specimen. Check out their hall of birds if you are ever in Chicago!

batfalcon

 

Raptors of the World: Harpy Eagle

I wanted to paint this bird to scale but didn’t have any panels large enough so I settled for a portrait on a 16×20″.  With talons as long as a grizzly bears claws and a wingspan of over 5 feet. The Harpy Eagle is an apex predator and can be found hunting in the treetops of tropical and subtropical forests. From southern Mexico south to Brazil and Argentina. Their diet consists largely of various sloth species and monkey species, including capuchin, howler, spider, and squirrel monkeys.

If you’re not in South America and you want to see these birds in action then check out “The Hunt” on Netflix. Another great nature doc narrated by Sir David Attenborough. Season 1 episode 3 has a great segment on Harpy Eagles. The whole show is awesome and in the same episode is a great segment on Cooper’s Hawks.

I just picked up some great books on African birds of prey and I’m excited to get lost in them. I’ll find us some good birds. Thanks again for looking at birds with me.

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Owls of the World: Black-banded Owl

Here’s a Black-banded Owl, Strix huhula.

These owls have an extensive range in northern and central South America. Preferring tropical and subtropical forests. Also found in banana and coffee plantations. They feed at night primarily on insects such as mantises, beetles, and locusts that it catches in flight. Little is known of breeding and nesting habits. They grow to be 12-14 inches tall with a wing span of 16 inches.

Black-banded pair

Raptors of Africa: Bateleur Eagle

Going back to African raptors. Here’s one of my favorites, Terathopius ecaudatus. Or Bateleur Eagle.  One of the more colorful species of snake eagles.

Despite their short tails they are quite capable of impressive aerial maneuvers while chasing prey. Found south of the Sahara desert in open areas with brush. They may cover as much as 200 miles a day searching for food. Riding thermals for up to 9 hours at a time. Their diet consists largely of snakes, lizards, rabbits, birds, antelope, and most of all roadkill and carrion.

This is a fun bird to paint, thanks for looking at birds with me.

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Birds of the World: Emperor Penguin

Aptenodytes forsteri.

The tallest and heaviest of all penguin species. A fascinating social bird endemic to Antarctica. They feed primarily on fish and sometimes crustaceans and squid. They swim to catch fish and can stay submerged as long as 18 minutes. Several adaptations allow this, including unique blood, and a control of its metabolism allowing it to conserve energy in low oxygen situations.

They are the only bird known to breed during the Antarctic winter. Traveling in groups to breeding territories. Females lay one egg which is incubated by the male. The average lifespan is 20 years though researchers have found some as old as 50. In large nesting sites mates communicate with complex and unique vocalizations.

Thanks again for looking at birds with me.

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