bird watching

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

 

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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

Hawks of the World: Jackal Buzzard

Buteo rufofuscus

One of the more interesting colored hawks of Africa. Found in the mountainous and open regions of Southern Africa. Prey includes small mammals like mice, moles, and hyrax. Though reptiles and birds also make up a healthy portion of their menu, and occasionally carrion. The Jackal Buzzard is similar in size to the Red-tailed Hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) of North America. Not surprising as they’re related.

Nests are constructed by both the male and female. Utilizing branches, leaves, and grass. The preferred nest spots are high in treetops and on cliff sides.

jackal buzzard1

I have made a couple of pen and watercolor illustrations of this bird, it was fun to make a life size panel painting. Thanks a bunch for looking at birds with me.

jackal buzzard process

Hawks of the World: Shikra

Accipiter badius.

The Shikra or Small-Banded Goshawk. Can be found perched in the open where it still-hunts for bats, small birds, reptiles, and insects. It being a smaller accipiter larger birds and mammals are off the menu. It usually takes prey on the ground or plucks it from tree trunks or foliage.

Preferring a wooded or partially wooded habitat, Shikra nest in trees and build a nest similar to that of crows, lined with grass. The average clutch size is 3-4 eggs.

Their range is quite extensive. Covering parts of Africa, India, and Southeast Asia.

accipiter range map

I really enjoy illustrating accipiters. This one was no exception. Thanks for looking at birds with me.

shikra process

Sources:

  • Kemp, A., Kemp, M. and Hayman, P. (1998). Sasol birds of prey of Africa and its islands. London: New Holland.
  • Ferguson-Lees, James, et al. Raptors of the World. Princeton University Press, 2005.

Falcons of the World: New Zealand Falcon

Falco novaeseelandiae

A powerful falcon endemic to New Zealand. They vary slightly in size, birds found in grasslands are larger than those found in forested areas. Also like many falcons females are larger than males.

They hunt birds and small mammals from a perch or from circular flight paths. Dropping on unsuspecting prey from above. Hitting prey with outstretched talons then severing the spinal column with a bite to the back of the head with their serrated bill. An effective hunter to say the least.

Aggressive hunters and defenders of their nests. Reports of falcons attacking humans who ventured too close to nesting areas are common. Much like goshawks in the northeast United States.

Nests are made in a variety of places. From on the ground in bushes all the way up high on cliffs or ledges from 20 to 100 feet. 2-4 eggs are laid at a time from September to December.

And if you’re keeping score at home, we’ve already looked at this bird about a year and a half ago. I wanted to go back and make some revisions. Having researched the bird more there were too many inaccuracies and I always love a chance to paint another unique falcon like Falco novaeseelandiae again. Thanks again for looking at birds with me.

 NZ redo strip