bird

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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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!

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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Owls of the World: Fulvous Owl

Fulvous Owl (Strix fulvescens) known also as Guatemala Barred Owl. Is found from Southern Mexico to Honduras. They prefer high-altitude tropical and temperate forests. Until recently it was just considered another race of Barred Owl (Strix varia). It’s coloration and song both resemble their Northern cousins. They’re quite elusive and proper study has still yet to be conducted to delve further. Fulvous Owls feed on small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects. They lay 2-5 eggs per clutch and nest in holes in trees.

Thanks for looking at birds with me.

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Hawks of the World: Crested Goshawk

 

 

Accipiter trivirgatus

The Crested Goshawk is found in Southeast Asia. Their short, broad wings and long tails are adaptations for maneuvering through trees to pursue prey. They feed on birds, small mammals, and reptiles. The females are larger than the males and lay 2-3 eggs at a time.

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Here’s a time lapse edit of my project. Music: Grateful Dead 5/77.

Eagles of the World: Bateleur Eagle

The Bateleur Eagle, Terathopius ecaudatus is an interesting colored bird with a very short tail. Found in decreasing numbers across sub-Saharan Africa. They cover large territories of upwards of 250 square miles. They both hunt and scavenge on these vast expanses. Taking small birds and mammals as well as carrion. They seem to prefer snakes, and have developed very rough scaled feet to protect them from bites. 

Bateleur Eagles mate for life, and lay one egg per clutch. Eggs are incubated by the female for 42-43 days. While they are usually found in alone or in pairs, they have been spotted in groups of up to 20 birds. Their closest relatives are the Snake Eagles. 

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This is my first painting in my Raptors of the World series that I’ve completed since moving back to Illinois. I stretched this project out and enjoyed it. Spending the days between brush strokes with family and friends. I was also able to utilize the vast collection of birds at the Field Museum of Natural History.  Eagles have a hold on my imagination a lot lately. Next I’m going to look at Wedge-Tailed Eagles from Australia. 

Thanks 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

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.

 

 

Falcons of the World-Alaska/Arctic Circle

Good golly how about that ride from Santiago, Chile to Anchorage, Alaska eh?
7,890 miles as the Toyota crow flies.
We made it though, but I’m still bummed you threw my “80’s dance hits” mix tape out the window while we were flying over Mexico.
And so now here we are in the great beautiful North. Home of the largest falcon of North America, the Gyrfalcon.
In the summer Gyrfalcons can be found from around 60 degrees to 79 degrees North. Their breeding range covers parts of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Scandinavia, and Siberia.
Winter time ranges of Gyrfalcons is still largely unknown. While some birds remain on their breeding range others winter south. In North America occasionally in the United States and in Asia as far south as Central Asia.
Their favorite meal is Ptarmigan, who can blame them? But studies have found they can take just about any other bird it comes across.
Even short eared owls have fallen prey to a Gyrfalcon. With a bill sharp enough to sever the spine of any bird, the menu is bigger.
They are incredible hunters. Utilizing several different techniques to capture prey. From low fast flight, chasing and tiring the prey out.
To breaking the preys breastbone by forcing it into the ground. They strike prey in the air rather than grab with their talons.
They repurpose Ravens nests and tend to a clutch of 3-5.
Gyrfalcons tend to occur in three different morphs, a dark, a white, and a grey. Shown here is an adult white morph.
I really enjoyed the literature study for this painting. The gyrfalcon is really an incredible bird. I recommend Falcons of the World by Tom J. Cade
It has stunning artwork by R. David Digby and well detailed information on each fascinating member of this incredible group of birds. Falco.
Well The flying Toyota is packed up and I made a new mix tape. “Mo-Town Jams” if you throw this mix tape out the window, were stopping till you find it.
We’re heading to Australia to look at an owl there. I’m not sure which one we’ll decide when we get there.
It’s only 7300 miles.
We got this.
Hold on tight.

Owls of the World-South America

Now we venture to South America to visit with the Magellan Horned Owl also known  as the Lesser Horned Owl. In Chile, it is called Tucúquere, for the rhythm of its song.
This owl resembles a great horned owl but is more lightweight. It was once thought to be a subspecies, but now genetic evidence suggests that it’s a separate species all together.
It hunts from a tall perch for medium sized mammals and birds, preferring rabbits and hares.

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This was a very fun painting to make, I found the ear tufts on these owls can be tricky to do right otherwise it looks like a mutant robot cat or something. Anyway, before we go to Australia to look at an owl there, we have to go to the Arctic to look at a falcon. I’ll see you when we get there.

-Ben.