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Owls of the World: Spotted Wood Owl.

Strix seloputo.

The Spotted Wood Owl is a medium sized owl. Averaging 18 inches tall. They are found across Southeast Asia. Its diet consists of rats, mice, small birds, and large insects. They roost by day, often close to the trunks of trees in dense foliage to avoid detection from other birds. They nest high up in trees, and lay up to three eggs at a time. They prefer nesting in partially clear forests and hunt in open areas. They can be found in populated areas, as well  as remote regions and areas not easily accessed like swamp forests and mangroves.

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My plan was to hold off on painting more in this series until I was settled in Chicago. But I found this old panel while packing and cleaned it up and went for what could best be described as an encore. It was such a privilege to get to paint all these here in Oakland, and I’m very excited for the projects to come in Chicago. Another huge thank you to all my friends and family for all the support. My goal with all this is simple; Share the birds of the world with you all. Now my easel is packed and my brushes too. Stay tuned for a Bateleur Eagle, found in Zimbabwe, Africa. Coming to you from the city by the lake.

And once more for good measure, thank you for looking at birds with me.

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Owls of the World: Snowy Owl

Bubo scandiacus.

One of the easiest to identify owls of the world. Found in the northernmost regions of the planet. The Snowy Owl is truly a unique owl, in its plumage and hunting habits.

Largely diurnal, it does most of its hunting by day. Taking small mammals, mostly lemmings, but also ptarmigans, rabbits, and mice. One snowy owl can take as many as 1,600 lemmings per year.
They hunt from a perch and pursue prey, capturing them with their massive talons. They can also locate prey by ear, even through thick grass and snow.

They lay 3-11 eggs depending on availability of food and have been known to be extremely defensive of their nests. Fighting off wolves and any other predators.
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This owl has been on my to-do list for years. It wasn’t until this fall that I felt I had the technical skills to get it done like the others. I used yellows and blues to add some dynamic. This is likely my last owl that I’ll get done here in Oakland. My next few projects will be African raptors, and those will be coming to you from Chicago, Illinois.
I am forever grateful for the time I’ve been able to spend in Oakland, I underestimated its potential, but learned quickly of its heart, passion, and beauty.
I’m excited for the art and adventures to come in the city by the lake.
A heartfelt thank you to all my California friends who have encouraged me to reach this point, both as an artist and as a man.
Thanks for looking at birds with me again. Lots more to come.

Thank you,

Farnco

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Owls of the World: Spotted Eagle Owl

Bubo africanus.

We made it back to Africa. I’m going to be spending more time on African raptors in the coming months.
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The spotted eagle owl is found across the southern regions of Africa.
It’s the smallest species of eagle owl, but by no means a small bird. With a height of up to 18-20 inches and a wing span of 30 inches.
It prefers a diet of mice, frogs, insects, and small birds.  Hunting primarily at night but occasionally at dusk. Habitats include open and scattered woodland. They mate for life and lay 2-4 eggs at a time. Nesting on rocky outcrops or cliff sides. Spending daytime in trees close to the trunk, doing their best to blend in and not be disturbed by diurnal birds.
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Thanks for looking at birds with me again. Before I get going on all those cool African raptors, we’re heading far north to look at a bird I’m really excited about painting.
Grab your coat, it’s gonna be snowy….

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Falcons of the World: Orange-breasted Falcon

Falco deiroleucus.
This falcon is found from southern Mexico south to northern Argentina. But only in small and sporadic locations.
It’s a medium sized falcon with incredibly strong talons for catching birds in flight.
It prefers tropical lowlands and evergreens. Its plumage resembles that of the smaller relative, Bat Falcon (Falco rufigularis). So much that it’s difficult for biologists to confirm reported sightings of the rare bird.
Next up is a trip back to Africa to look at the Spotted Eagle Owl. Bubo africanus.
Thanks for looking at birds with me.
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Falcons of the World: Sooty Falcon

Sooty Falcon, Falco concolor.

This medium sized falcon is found from Northeastern Africa to the Southern Persian Gulf.
It belongs to the Hobby group, sometimes considered a subgenus, Hypotriorchis.
Which is a small group of similar falcons. The Sooty falcon is often confused with the Eleonora’s Falcon. Both are similar in color but vary in build. The Sooty falcon has a shorter tail and is suited to high speed pursuits.
It eats primarily migrating birds. Striking them to the ground and severing the spinal cord with a bite to the back of the head. Sooty Falcons will also take dragon flies, grabbing them with their talons then passing them to their beak, eating on the wing.
They nest on rocky ledges in scattered areas of the Libyan desert and adjacent parts of Egypt. Laying up to four eggs. Long distance migrators, they winter in Eastern Africa as far south as Madagascar.
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I really enjoyed this painting. It was a refreshing new challenge. Working with whites and yellows. Learning about shadows and finding their colors.
This painting was another good one for learning what I need to tackle the Snowy Owl.
A challenge I have been putting off until I can see it in my head right. This falcon helped me find that. But before we go that far North, I’m jumping over the Atlantic to look at the Orange-Breasted Falcon in Central and South America.
Thanks a bunch for looking at birds with me.
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Owls of the World: Short-Eared Owl

Six years ago or so, up on the railroad tracks in rural San Luis Obispo county is where I found my first owl while exploring in California.
The eyes were a striking yellow. We looked at each other for a second that sat like an hour.
It flew away to my left without the slightest sound of wind over wing. More like a ghost than anything I’ve ever seen.

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The Short-Eared Owl, Asio flammeus.
Preferring to live in open prairie and fields, this owl can be easier to find than some of the more reclusive owls like Strix nebulosa.
Their range is much of the top half of North America. They have lost a lot of their range in the south due to loss of habitat.
These owls do most their hunting at dawn and dusk. Locating small mammals by ear while in flight. They kill prey with a bite to the back of the head.
Their smaller ear tufts are often not visible. My model for this painting didn’t  seem to have any at all.
Some research I read said they only show when they feel threatened.
I cant confirm that, as my model was a series of photographs from an excellent book.
“Owls” by Floyd Scholz, photographs by Tad Merrick. Stackpole Books. Over 380 pages of awesome. If you love owls, its a great book for you.
I painted this one all the way through while enjoying the livestream from Dead & Company’s show in Washington. Hard to beat having a band like that in your ear while hanging out with an owl.
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Thanks for joining me again to look at birds. There’s some messed up shit happening out there. I’m glad  we could share this together.
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Falcons of the world: Madagascar Kestrel

This small and mighty falcon is about the same size as the American kestrel. It’s endemic to Madagascar and the atoll of Aldabra.
It prefers open country to forest, and has benefitted from deforestation, nesting under the eaves of homes in populated areas.
They usually still hunt from a perch. While they will take mice and small birds, insects comprise 75% of their diet.

Thank you for looking at and learning about these wonderful birds with me.

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Falcons of the World: New Zealand Falcon

The New Zealand Falcon.
This bird is found across the main north and south islands. However absent from the North Auckland peninsula. The New Zealand falcon shares its environment with only one other diurnal raptor, the Australasian Harrier (Circus approximans). Therefor the falcon has more ecological range. And is more of a generalized raptor in many respects.

Its feather coloration is well suited for the forest environment.
They are typically very defensive of their hunting and nesting areas.
These falcons hunt smaller birds primarily, often hunting from a perch or on the wing. While they’re not as fast as their cousins the Peregrine Falcon, they still don’t waste any time in the air. Moving at terrific speeds with fighter jet-like maneuvers.


Until the last couple months most every bird I painted was native to North America. Due largely to my fondness of them. But as my goal moves towards wildlife preservation and awareness I have broadened my scope. I don’t want to just protect the birds of North America, I want to protect all of them. Birds don’t observe our borders, neither does art.

At the least, all this does is guarantee that I’m not going to run out of birds to paint. At the best, I can share the wonders of the planet with you as they come across my drawing desk.  Wherever that desk goes. Thanks for hearing me out and checking out these Falcons with me.

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Black Barn Owl

I still remember the first time I encountered a barn owl. It was a sleepless night in Southern California. I walked outside the house barefoot and walked towards the closest streetlight. I’m not sure why. I found the moon and then walked into the grass. I got close to the large palm tree in the neighbors yard and from within its branches came the most abrasive screech.

And it took off. With not even a whisper.
I couldn’t think of anything to say which was convenient because barn owls don’t speak much English.
Some eight years later that sound brings me so much delight to hear. It only rings in to me in the dead of night. My on going soundtrack to living. Through the window in Oakland or a quiet neighborhood in Berkeley. It’s like a letter in the mailbox from that friend you have that’s always traveling. Or like hearing a song that you listened to once with someone special who later drifted away for one reason or another. So many roads since then.

They still show up though when we break out the paint.

This Barn Owl is a melanistic variation. It has excessive pigments in the feathers making it darker. This occurs in many species in the animal kingdom, not just in birds. The first Barn Owl I saw was not a Black Barn Owl, but rather a white one as is usually the case. Black Barn Owls dont survive well in the wild as they don’t blend in. No camo, no cover.

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Thank you for joining me in looking at the wealth of amazing birds around us.
Learn, Love, Respect, and Protect.
Every day is Earth day, and every day is a good day to draw a bird.

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Owls of the World-Australia

The top of my list of places I’d like to go and see. They have all the badass snakes, spiders, jellyfish.

I chose the Southern Boobook owl to paint for my owls of the world collection.
I don’t own the rights to any photos of one, but crack open another tab on your browser and check these birds out. They’re very cool birds.

I used a couple books to guide me on this one.

“Owls” by Marianne Taylor. 2012 Cornell.

“Owls of the World” by Dr. James R. Duncan. 2003 Firefly Books.

You don’t see a lot of Boobook Owls here in Oakland. In fact most owls here are plastic and intended to strike fear in the hearts of the pigeons. It doesn’t do much, nothing fazes them. Though the Peregrine Falcon that lives on the hospital building wrecks shop on them.

This was a very fun painting to make, it closed up my book project. Which is now available here: http://www.blurb.com/b/7086777-owls

But back to the point. Boobooks are native to mainland Australia, New Guinea, Timor, and the Sunda Islands. They hunt from a perch for small mammals like mice. Also taking insects like beetles and moths. Coloration varies widely across their range. (That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.)

Thanks for looking at owls with me.