Found in semi-open desert regions. Often among mesquite, saguaro, and organ pipe cactus. This fascinating raptor is one of the few social predators in the animal kingdom. They hunt in groups, from two to six for rabbits, squirrels, and birds. Utilizing strategic methods of flushing and ambushing prey. They also work as a group to defend large carrion from coyotes and other predators.
Not only do they hunt in groups, but they also nest in groups. As many as three adults feeding one nest. Nests are built high in mesquite trees, on man made structures or cliff sides. Laying 1-5 eggs per clutch.
North America’s smallest hawk species can be found in forested and occasionally urban areas. Their long tails and short wings help them maneuver through trees in pursuit of their main food source, small birds. The prey is usually caught on the wing and killed with talons. Then carried to a branch where the feathers are removed. Unlike owls who consume birds with feathers and bones, sharp-shinned hawks pluck all the feathers before dinning. They can be found occasionally at bird feeders showing up to catch feeding birds off guard. I’ve watched a sharp-shinned climb through a bush to get to the house sparrows hiding inside. They’re rather determined little raptors.
This was a fun painting to put together over the last couple evenings. I’ve been enjoying getting back to North America’s raptors in between all the water colors of raptors of the world. Thanks again for looking at birds with me.
African Harrier-Hawk or African Gymnogene. These large birds of prey are found in most regions south of the Sahara. They Feed on oil palm fruits, and uses its long double jointed legs to reach into dead trees and crevices to steal eggs or snatch at small mammals, reptiles, and insects. Also hunts from a perch or even walking on the ground. They build stick nests and lay 1-3 eggs per clutch.
These owls have an extensive range in northern and central South America. Preferring tropical and subtropical forests. Also found in banana and coffee plantations. They feed at night primarily on insects such as mantises, beetles, and locusts that it catches in flight. Little is known of breeding and nesting habits. They grow to be 12-14 inches tall with a wing span of 16 inches.
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.
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.
One of the easiest to identify owls of the world. Found in the northernmost regions of the planet. The Snowy Owl is truly a unique owl, in its plumage and hunting habits.
Largely diurnal, it does most of its hunting by day. Taking small mammals, mostly lemmings, but also ptarmigans, rabbits, and mice. One snowy owl can take as many as 1,600 lemmings per year.
They hunt from a perch and pursue prey, capturing them with their massive talons. They can also locate prey by ear, even through thick grass and snow.
They lay 3-11 eggs depending on availability of food and have been known to be extremely defensive of their nests. Fighting off wolves and any other predators.
This owl has been on my to-do list for years. It wasn’t until this fall that I felt I had the technical skills to get it done like the others. I used yellows and blues to add some dynamic. This is likely my last owl that I’ll get done here in Oakland. My next few projects will be African raptors, and those will be coming to you from Chicago, Illinois.
I am forever grateful for the time I’ve been able to spend in Oakland, I underestimated its potential, but learned quickly of its heart, passion, and beauty.
I’m excited for the art and adventures to come in the city by the lake.
A heartfelt thank you to all my California friends who have encouraged me to reach this point, both as an artist and as a man.
Thanks for looking at birds with me again. Lots more to come.
We made it back to Africa. I’m going to be spending more time on African raptors in the coming months.
The spotted eagle owl is found across the southern regions of Africa.
It’s the smallest species of eagle owl, but by no means a small bird. With a height of up to 18-20 inches and a wing span of 30 inches.
It prefers a diet of mice, frogs, insects, and small birds. Hunting primarily at night but occasionally at dusk. Habitats include open and scattered woodland. They mate for life and lay 2-4 eggs at a time. Nesting on rocky outcrops or cliff sides. Spending daytime in trees close to the trunk, doing their best to blend in and not be disturbed by diurnal birds.
Thanks for looking at birds with me again. Before I get going on all those cool African raptors, we’re heading far north to look at a bird I’m really excited about painting.
Grab your coat, it’s gonna be snowy….
This falcon is found from southern Mexico south to northern Argentina. But only in small and sporadic locations.
It’s a medium sized falcon with incredibly strong talons for catching birds in flight.
It prefers tropical lowlands and evergreens. Its plumage resembles that of the smaller relative, Bat Falcon (Falco rufigularis). So much that it’s difficult for biologists to confirm reported sightings of the rare bird.
Next up is a trip back to Africa to look at the Spotted Eagle Owl. Bubo africanus.