After the last few field-guide inspired panels, I got started on my largest undertaking yet in my 10+ years of exploring birds and painting. I have long wanted to take my love for field guide artwork and layout a large collection of species on one panel.
My father hand crafted for me this massive (compared to my usual 16×20”) 30” x 40” panel. He handed it off to me in December of 2021 and I began selecting and doing the layout math.
When selecting the species for this project I came up with a number of species from every continent that birds of prey are found on, that being all but Antarctica.
It came out to 114 species of birds in all.
22 hawks from the Accipiter Genus,
26 hawks from the Buteo genus,
27 species of falcons,
18 species of eagles,
9 species of snake-eagles,
6 species of harriers,
5 species of Kites,
And one Osprey.
I began the pencil work in the first week of February and painting began at the end of March. Then over the course of the following months with acrylic paint I brought to life on the panel all 114 species.
To call the process a learning experience is an understatement. I poured through dozens of reference photos and books for each and every bird. Getting to know each one as best as I could.
It’s not just the colors and look of the birds I was after but rather everything I can find on diet, habitats, and range.
My biggest take away is how connected the world is through its birds.
The Eleonora’s falcon you watched hunting birds on the shores of a beach in Madagascar today was hunting shore birds in Italy six months ago. (That’s a 4,715 mile flight).
The Broad-wing hawk you saw in that Canadian forest last summer? It’s spending the winter in Argentina. (A cool 7,085 mile flight). So it stands to reason that habitat loss anywhere in between deeply affects all these birds and their prey animals.
Aside from all the information I learned about the various species, it was an excellent lesson in patience and enjoying the process. Theres no good way to paint this many species in the detail I want and do it fast. So I worked slowly and enjoyed the long haul of the undertaking each hour at a time and each feather at a time.
The mediums I used on this project were pencil, pen, and acrylic paint.
And the master “Who’s Who” list. from left to right:
Accipiter cooperii, Accipiter striatus, Accipiter gentilis, Accipiter badius, Accipiter ovampensis, Accipiter castanilius, Accipiter melanoleucus, Accipiter minullus, Accipiter tachiro, Accipiter francesiae, Accipiter henstii.
Accipiter madagascariensis, Accipiter melanochlamys, Accipiter erythrauchen, Accipiter novaehollandiae, Accipiter chionogaster, Accipiter chilensis, Accipiter albogularis, Accipiter poliogaster, Accipiter rufitorques, Accipiter fasciatus, Accipiter trinotatus.
Buteo regalis, Buteo jamaicensis, Buteo lineatus, Parabuteo leucorrhous, Buteo hemilasius, Buteo albonotatus, Buteo ventralis, Buteo platypterus, Buteo albigula, Buteo nitidus, Buteo brachyurus, Buteo lagopus, Rupornis magnirostris.
Buteo augur archeri, Buteo solitarius, Buteo augur, Buteo brachypterus, Buteo auguralis, Buteo swainsoni, Buteo ridgewayi, Buteo poecilochrous, Buteo exsul, Buteo polyosoma, Buteo galapagoensis, Buteo oreophilus, Buteo rufofuscus.
Falco mexicanus, Falco peregrinus, Falco rusticolus, Falco cuvierii, Falco eleonorae, Falco sparverius, Falco cenchroides, Falco ardosiaceus, Falco moluccensis, Falco subbuteo, Falco columbarius, Falco hypoleucos, Falco tinnunculus, Falco concolor
Falco alopex, Falco longipennis, Falco subniger, Falco berigora, Falco chicquera, Falco biarmicus, Falco jugger, Falco cherrug, Falco fasciinucha, Falco femoralis, Falco rufigularis, Falco deiroleucus, Falco novaeseelandiae
Polemaetus bellicosus, Aquila spilogaster, Hieraaetus pennatus, Hieraaetus ayresii, Aquila africana, Aquila fasciata, Haliaeetus vocifer, Haliaeetus leucocephalus, Haliaeetus pelagicus.
Harpia harpyja, Spizaetus ornatus, Spizaetus tyrannus, Aquila chrysaetos, Aquila verreauxii, Aquila audax, Aquila gurneyi, Aquila nipalensis.
Terathopius ecaudatus, Circaetus cinerascens, Circaetus fasciolatus, Spilornis cheela, Spilornis holospilus, Dryotriorchis spectabilis, Spilornis rufipectus, Eutriorchis astur, Circaetus pectoralis.
Circus hudsonius, Circus cinereus, Circus maurus, Circus ranivorus, Circus aeruginosus, Circus assimilis, Elanus leucurus, Royrhamus socrabilis, Lophoictinia isura, Gampsonyx swainsonii, Ictina mississippiensis, Pandion haliaetus.
Thank you so much for looking at birds with me.
So many more to come.
My two primary reference books were:
Weick, F., and L.H Brown. Birds of Prey of the World: A Coloured Guide to Identification of All the Diurnal Species Order Falconiformes. Paul Parey, 1980.
Ferguson-Lees, James, and David Christie. Raptors of the World. A & C Black Publishers Ltd, 2010.