birds of prey

Raptors of the World: Red-tailed Hawk (juvenile)

I’ve painted plenty of adult Red-tailed Hawks and wanted to do a panel painting of a first year hawk. Even more specifically a light morph. Red-tailed hawks don’t gain their namesake red tail feathers until their second and even sometimes third year.

This was painted on a panel that’s been used for a few different paintings and has been sanded down many times and washed with several different background colors. That’s what gave it the unique coloring you see here.

I’ve probably painted more of these birds than any other. They hold a special place in my heart. Thank you so much for looking at birds with me.

rtha lite process

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

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

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

Hawks of the World: Red Shouldered Hawk

Buteo lineatus.

Definitely one of my favorite birds to watch and paint. Found across eastern North America and along the California coast south into Mexico. Hunting from a perch and on the wing. They take a variety of prey, ranging from small mammals, birds, insects, snakes and occasionally fish.  Found in forested and open areas. Nests are built of branches in treetops at 35-50 feet up. They lay usually 3 eggs per clutch.

red shouldered hawks

RSHA map

Thanks a bunch for looking at birds with me. We covered this bird already here something like three years ago and I felt it was time to have another go at painting this bird as I’ve learned a lot since the last time. I’m glad I did, this was very fun to put together.

My Illinois

My Illinois has grown into a place it couldn’t be until I left it. I was too preoccupied with plotting my escape to truly sink into its beauty. That’s not to say I didn’t look for it before I left. In the plots of restored prairie around Kane county Illinois I found the greatest beauty, and came to fall in love with grasslands.
My first large paintings were of mountain ranges, rather cartoon like, they captured the image of where I was heading. I painted them on the walls of my room (to my mother’s delight).
That feeling when you’re driving in towards Denver from Nebraska. To put the grasslands and corn in your rearview mirror and the mountains right on ahead. I was making a break for it, running for my life, cool and calm doing 65mph on Highway 76.
Illinois out the basement window.

Illinois out the basement window.

 

It was to just be another summer job at a kids camp in Tahoe and then return. Though that wasn’t to be the case at all. Here I am 6 years later, I’m putting my eyes on the rearview mirror and revisiting some old familiar plants and animals. All the while sitting on a chair in California drawing birds.
milkweedsketch.jpg
I wanted to do a page called “Raptors of the Illinois Prairie”.  I chose the American Kestrel and Sharp-shinned Hawk. And after sketching a few old friends from the plots of Kane County. I went with one of my top three favorite plants, the Compass Plant. They stand a good 6-8 feet tall and their roots go almost twice as deep. Part of my love for the flowers they put out is tied to the roots they send so deep. Escaping the full wrath of the fires that recycled the prairie.
I will put a good many more hours into this drawing. To explore it further in pencil and pen, before coloring with watercolor.
prairieproject.jpg
I remember it well standing in the driveway saying goodbye to my Dad that May morning. The dogwood was blooming.  I was sad to leave home I told him. “Home is where ever you go” he told me. Those words put a smile on my face whenever my heart grows heavy.
He knew I wasn’t coming right back to Illinois before I did.