I wanted to paint this bird to scale but didn’t have any panels large enough so I settled for a portrait on a 16×20″. With talons as long as a grizzly bears claws and a wingspan of over 5 feet. The Harpy Eagle is an apex predator and can be found hunting in the treetops of tropical and subtropical forests. From southern Mexico south to Brazil and Argentina. Their diet consists largely of various sloth species and monkey species, including capuchin, howler, spider, and squirrel monkeys.
If you’re not in South America and you want to see these birds in action then check out “The Hunt” on Netflix. Another great nature doc narrated by Sir David Attenborough. Season 1 episode 3 has a great segment on Harpy Eagles. The whole show is awesome and in the same episode is a great segment on Cooper’s Hawks.
I just picked up some great books on African birds of prey and I’m excited to get lost in them. I’ll find us some good birds. Thanks again for looking at birds with me.
Going back to African raptors. Here’s one of my favorites, Terathopius ecaudatus. Or Bateleur Eagle. One of the more colorful species of snake eagles.
Despite their short tails they are quite capable of impressive aerial maneuvers while chasing prey. Found south of the Sahara desert in open areas with brush. They may cover as much as 200 miles a day searching for food. Riding thermals for up to 9 hours at a time. Their diet consists largely of snakes, lizards, rabbits, birds, antelope, and most of all roadkill and carrion.
This is a fun bird to paint, thanks for looking at birds with me.
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.
Bubo bengalensis. Indian Eagle Owl or Rock Eagle Owl. Found from W. Himalayas east to W. Burma, and south through Pakistan and India, but not Sri Lanka. like most owls, they’re reluctant to fly over large open waters. They prefer rocky and rugged landscapes but can also be found in forested areas or near edges of cities.
Bubo bengalensis hunts rats, mice, and also birds, reptiles, frogs, and large insects. They Hunt from a perch or in a low foraging flight. The Indian Eagle Owl’s song is a two-note hoot, the second note is stronger. If upset they make an angry hissing sound.
They nest on the ground or on a rocky outcrop. Laying 2-4 eggs at a time which are incubated by the female for around 35 days.
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.
The Ural Owl is found across Northern Europe and Northern Asia. And as far east as Japan. Preferring remote old growth forest. They hunt primarily voles but substitute with other small mammals, insects, and birds when vole populations are low. Hunting from perches relying on their incredible hearing, silent wings, and razor sharp talons.
Ural Owls lay up to six eggs per clutch. Nesting in dead trees or even an abandoned Goshawk nest. They are very defensive of their nests, chasing away anything that approaches the entrance. Unless it’s a returning Goshawk in which case they would be in trouble.
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.
Here’s a time lapse edit of my project. Music: Grateful Dead 5/77.
…is Australia’s largest bird of prey. These eagles are great flyers gliding for hours on end. They hunt live prey such as small kangaroos, wallabies, possums, and koalas. As well as nonnative species such as foxes, hares, and feral cats. Searching for carrion is another common behavior. At times searching out for ravens to commandeer their finds. Roadkill is a favorite snack of theirs, and can be found on roadsides clearing carcasses. Their keen eyesight extends to ultraviolet spectrums. While carrion is a large part of their diet, they have shown impressive hunting skills. Even teaming together to drive goats off cliffs and taking large red kangaroos. They also have been found to drive a heard of sheep to isolate weaker animals. Much like a wolf of the sky. Truly one of Australia’s great alpha predators.
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.
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.
The Spotted Wood Owl is a medium sized owl. Averaging 18 inches tall. They are found across Southeast Asia. Its diet consists of rats, mice, small birds, and large insects. They roost by day, often close to the trunks of trees in dense foliage to avoid detection from other birds. They nest high up in trees, and lay up to three eggs at a time. They prefer nesting in partially clear forests and hunt in open areas. They can be found in populated areas, as well as remote regions and areas not easily accessed like swamp forests and mangroves.
My plan was to hold off on painting more in this series until I was settled in Chicago. But I found this old panel while packing and cleaned it up and went for what could best be described as an encore. It was such a privilege to get to paint all these here in Oakland, and I’m very excited for the projects to come in Chicago. Another huge thank you to all my friends and family for all the support. My goal with all this is simple; Share the birds of the world with you all. Now my easel is packed and my brushes too. Stay tuned for a Bateleur Eagle, found in Zimbabwe, Africa. Coming to you from the city by the lake.
And once more for good measure, thank you for looking at birds with me.