biology

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: 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.

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.

 

 

Fall raptor migration in my livingroom.

This fall I started a series of raptor paintings.
I broke them into groups. Tonight I finished the first group. Six buteos common to North America.
I learned a lot about the birds while working on these. Taking weekend trips to Hawk Hill in Marin, Ca. to watch the fall raptor migration. Aided by the great people at the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory, I learned how to better distinguish these birds in flight. And spending hours looking at photographs and painting color studies, I improved my technique for laying them out in a suitable fashion on the page. I’m excited to learn so much more.

A labor of love for learning about these amazing creatures and sharing their wonder with those around me.

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Falco peregrinus. (Again probably).

I cracked open a can of cola and laid out the paints I would need. As well as several books opened to pages with peregrines on them. To double check the colors I imagined.
I always start these with some idea but a lot of it I figure out on my way through it. Still learning how to best translate from pencil to paint.
f1
When I got to the wings I looked for blue….I found some in my paint box.
f2
The body through me for a loop, and I sat staring at it for a good bit. In the background I could hear the soundtrack of a movie I was half watching. Somebody was laughing.
f3
A glance to the window and I knew where to go. Like driving in the night and checking the map under a streetlight. (I guess now everybody looks at their phone).
I brought back the smallest brush and approached like it was my micron pen. With the precision of a drunk surgeon with a rusty scalpel.
I like paper maps.
falconfinal
Got it sorted well enough.
No simple highway.

Maps to get lost with.

I had a delightful afternoon of painting owls and laughing at my own jokes.

My jokes, like when I put the Nashville and the Tennessee Warblers on the same page, this map was begging for the largest owl of each region…..right?

My punch line, The Great Grey and the Eurasian Eagle Owl.
The Great Grey I had painted before but this was my first Bubo. I have seen one once before at a wildlife presentation in Southern California. It was injured and unable to fly but still sat with more pride and power than any human I have ever met.
Its eyes seemed to stare through me like a laser shot through soft butter.
The Great Grey still is a ghost on my list of birds to see. They can be found in California but certainly not on my chair in Oakland so I’ll probably need to pack a backpack and head to the Yosemite region if I want to get closer than photos in books or my own sketch pads.
Great Grey Owl Strix nebulosa

Great Grey Owl
Strix nebulosa

Eurasian Eagle Owl Bubo bubo

Eurasian Eagle Owl
Bubo bubo

Warblers in April finished.

I completed the last work tonight on my 20 warblers on 8×10 wooden pages. I left the 10th page in pencil for “artistic reasons”. I suppose I want whoever looks at these to be able to better see where they come from. People always ask my “why birds?” The best answer I can come up with is that if you walked my mile, I imagine you’d paint a lot of birds too. Maybe the pencil work will help.

Who’s next? Finches? Birds for Atticus….

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Write a poem or paint a Warbler?

What’s the difference?

The first bird I saw out my window of my new home was to my absolute delight, a Townsend's Warbler. So it seemed like a great bird to put to page. The pencil work here.

The first bird I saw out my window of my new home was to my absolute delight, a Townsend’s Warbler. So it seemed like a great bird to put to page. The pencil work here.

I decided to do the Male/Female combo like my Grandpa's old bird guide. The pen work here.

I decided to do the Male/Female combo like my Grandpa’s old bird guide. The pen work here.