Raptors of the World: Ornate Hawk-Eagle

Spizaetus ornatus

Here’s an aptly named raptor found in the tropical forests of Central and South America. Feeds primarily on mammals, birds, large lizards, and snakes. They often hunt still from a perch then dive down after prey that’s passing by. They are also very strong flyers that can chase down prey that’s escaping.

ornate process2

Falcons of the World: Peregrine Falcon (Again indeed)

Falco peregrinus.

I first learned about these fine birds from a book when I was in second grade. Every time my class visited the library I went straight to the wildlife section and dove in. Fast forward some 20 some years and I’m still fascinated by these fine falcons.

I’m grateful to have had many different experiences with them in the wild. From California to Illinois in a number of different habitats. There’s really nothing quite like watching them fly, hunt, dive, and dine.

Falco t-shirt process edit

I’ve made a few different Peregrine panels over the last five years. This pose is among my favorites and so I duplicated it. I’m proud to be working on panels my father made for me in his wood shop.

Thanks Dad, and thanks to you for looking at birds with me.

Hawks of the World: Cooper’s Hawk

Accipiter cooperii.

Cooper’s hawks are definitely high in the ranks of my favorite birds to watch, draw, and paint. Always a difficult bird to id from it’s cousin the Sharp shinned hawk (Accipiter striatus). I’ve shared other paintings here of this fighter jet-like song bird hunter. This is the first painting I’ve shared of one I’ve put together on a panel my amazing wood-working father had assembled. When I started these panel paintings years back, I was living in Oakland, Ca. I bought my panels from an art supply store. I imagined how cool it’d be to be able to live close to home and paint on panels my dad made. Or at least commandeer his wood shop to make my own panels.  Fast forward some five years and here we are. My dad turns out 10 panels a week for me. I’m sitting on an amazing back-stock of high quality panels and all I have to do is decide which bird to paint.

So I went to the Cooper’s Hawk. One of the first I saw upon my return to my home town four years ago and one I’ve seen plenty of since. In fact one I enjoy so much upon finishing this last one, I started fresh again with another. A feat only easily accomplished by having the wonderfully supportive friends and family I have, and a fine stock of papa-made wood panels.

So I thank you for looking at hawks with me, and my father for providing me with the supplies I need to keep my heart soaring through the branches after birds like the Cooper’s Hawk does.

 

 

Owls of the World: Barn Owl (again)

Tyto alba. 

One of the most wide spread species of owl on the planet. They are found on all continents except Antarctica. These owls occupy open and lightly forested regions as well as agriculture and urban areas. 

Barn owls feed primarily on small mammals such as mice, rats, and voles. Most of which are hunted from a perch. Bats occasionally make the menu as well, taken in flight. A barn owl family with nestlings can consume as many as 10,000 rodents per year. This makes them a friend to corn and grain farmers everywhere. 

barn owl process

Eagles of the World: Wedge-tailed Eagle

Aquila audax. 

Australia’s largest bird of prey. Found in a variety of habitats across Australia and southern New Guinea. 

Feeds on a variety of prey animals. Large lizards, birds, rabbits, wallabies, young kangaroos, bandicoots, goats, sheep, and carrion make up just some of the menu. 

wedge tailed process

I made another Wedge-tailed panel two years ago when I first moved to Chicago from Oakland. It was the second panel I made in my new home. They’re a tricky bird to paint, their faces aren’t fully feathered and that’s a fun challenge. 

Hawks of the World: Red-Tailed Hawk

Buteo jamaicensis

Found in a variety of color morphs across much of North America. Occupying a variety of habitats, open savanna, grasslands, coniferous forest, deserts with cacti, farmlands, and urban areas. Feeds primarily on small mammals like mice, voles, squirrels, and chipmunks. Occasionally preys on reptiles, birds, and swarming insects. 

Absolutely one of my favorite birds to paint, photograph, and watch. Here’s a collection of a few of my recent paintings of North America’s lion of the sky as well as a few photographs from the field. 

february rtha processfebruary rtha

april rtha processapril rtha

may rtha processmay rtha

Eagles of the World: Martial Eagle

Polemaetus bellicosus.

Africa’s largest species of eagle. Found in open areas with grass and thorn bushes and wooded savanna. In Central and Southern Africa.

Hunts from a perch near a waterhole or clearing. Feeds on mammals, birds, and reptiles. Prey varies wildly by region and availability. From rabbits, hyraxes, and even monkeys, jackals, and small wild cats. Birds of different sizes and monitor lizards make up a substantial amount of the menu.

(Ferguson-Lees, Christie and Franklin, 2005)

martial eagle progression

I have been keeping busy with the panels but not posting them here because they were all birds we’ve looked at a lot here. So here’s a new one we haven’t seen here yet. Acrylic paint on wood panel. Thanks a bunch for looking at birds with me.

Raptors of the world: Black-Hawk Eagle

Spizaetus tyrannus.

A medium size bird of prey of the Americas. Found in tropical forested regions in Southern Mexico, and south throughout Central America all the way to Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil. They hunt a variety of prey usually from a perch. They take prey as large as toucans, small monkey, and iguanas. Bats, squirrels, snakes, and possum are also on the menu.  Nests are made high in the treetops, and made of branches, vines, and sticks.

This was a fun panel to paint. Making such a dark colored bird stand out on the panel was an enjoyable challenge. Thanks for looking at birds with me.

My source for the biological information:

Clark, W. and Schmitt, N. (n.d.). Raptors of Mexico and Central America. 2017.

black hawk eagle process final

Buteo Hawks of North America

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Here’s five of the more common Buteo hawks found in Canada, Mexico, and The United States. All feed primarily on small mammals such as: Rabbits, voles, mice, squirrels, and prairie dogs. Insects, birds, and reptiles are also on their menu. All are frequently found in open areas. Grasslands, desert, and sparsely forested areas. Many have adapted to human habitation impacts and can be found hunting from a perch upon a utility pole along an urban roadside.

For more information about these birds definitely check out www.allaboutbirds.org

It’s one of my favorite online resources for raptors and other birds of North America.

I’d like to credit Floyd Scholz’s book “Birds of Prey” (Stackpole Books 1993.) as an indispensable resource in raptor illustration.

These illustrations are done in Micron pen and watercolor.

Thanks so much for looking at birds with me.

Hawks of the World: Cooper’s Hawk

Accipiter cooperii.

We’ve looked at this one here before. I featured the male Cooper’s hawk on this very panel in the spring of 2015. I’ve learned a lot about painting and this species since then. I felt it was time to sand that painting off and start anew. This time featuring the female Cooper’s hawk. I’ve included a few pen and watercolor illustrations to help further illustrate the differences between the male and female plumage as well as one to help differentiate from the Sharp-shinned hawk (Accipiter striatus).

coopers hawk male and female

Females Cooper’s hawks are larger than males and can take larger prey. Males tend to only take small birds, while the females can take birds as well as small mammals like squirrels and rabbits. Nests are made in treetops and laying 3-5 eggs per clutch. eggs are a cobalt blue color.

Cooper’s hawks can be found throughout North America. Preferring woodland habitat where they chase down prey through the treetops. They’re also found in urban environments. Preying on birds and squirrels that frequent bird feeders.

It can be easy to confuse Cooper’s hawks with Sharp-shinned hawks (Accipiter striatus). Especially given the size differences between male and female Cooper’s hawks. A male Cooper’s hawk can be the size of a female Sharp-shinned hawk. The tail feathers of the two are the best indicator of who’s who. Here’s an illustration I put together to explain the differences.

coops compaired to sharpie

Thanks for looking at birds with me.

collage 3