earth

Owls of the World: Indian Eagle Owl

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.

Thanks for looking at birds with me.

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Eagles of the World: Bateleur Eagle

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. 

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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. 

Thanks for looking at birds with me. 

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Owls of the World: Spotted Wood Owl.

Strix seloputo.

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.

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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.

Owls of the World: Snowy Owl

Bubo scandiacus.

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.
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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.

Thank you,

Farnco

Falcons of the World: Sooty Falcon

Sooty Falcon, Falco concolor.

This medium sized falcon is found from Northeastern Africa to the Southern Persian Gulf.
It belongs to the Hobby group, sometimes considered a subgenus, Hypotriorchis.
Which is a small group of similar falcons. The Sooty falcon is often confused with the Eleonora’s Falcon. Both are similar in color but vary in build. The Sooty falcon has a shorter tail and is suited to high speed pursuits.
It eats primarily migrating birds. Striking them to the ground and severing the spinal cord with a bite to the back of the head. Sooty Falcons will also take dragon flies, grabbing them with their talons then passing them to their beak, eating on the wing.
They nest on rocky ledges in scattered areas of the Libyan desert and adjacent parts of Egypt. Laying up to four eggs. Long distance migrators, they winter in Eastern Africa as far south as Madagascar.
sooty falcon range map
I really enjoyed this painting. It was a refreshing new challenge. Working with whites and yellows. Learning about shadows and finding their colors.
This painting was another good one for learning what I need to tackle the Snowy Owl.
A challenge I have been putting off until I can see it in my head right. This falcon helped me find that. But before we go that far North, I’m jumping over the Atlantic to look at the Orange-Breasted Falcon in Central and South America.
Thanks a bunch for looking at birds with me.

Falcons of the world: Madagascar Kestrel

This small and mighty falcon is about the same size as the American kestrel. It’s endemic to Madagascar and the atoll of Aldabra.
It prefers open country to forest, and has benefitted from deforestation, nesting under the eaves of homes in populated areas.
They usually still hunt from a perch. While they will take mice and small birds, insects comprise 75% of their diet.

Thank you for looking at and learning about these wonderful birds with me.

Falcons of the World: New Zealand Falcon

The New Zealand Falcon.
This bird is found across the main north and south islands. However absent from the North Auckland peninsula. The New Zealand falcon shares its environment with only one other diurnal raptor, the Australasian Harrier (Circus approximans). Therefor the falcon has more ecological range. And is more of a generalized raptor in many respects.

Its feather coloration is well suited for the forest environment.
They are typically very defensive of their hunting and nesting areas.
These falcons hunt smaller birds primarily, often hunting from a perch or on the wing. While they’re not as fast as their cousins the Peregrine Falcon, they still don’t waste any time in the air. Moving at terrific speeds with fighter jet-like maneuvers.


Until the last couple months most every bird I painted was native to North America. Due largely to my fondness of them. But as my goal moves towards wildlife preservation and awareness I have broadened my scope. I don’t want to just protect the birds of North America, I want to protect all of them. Birds don’t observe our borders, neither does art.

At the least, all this does is guarantee that I’m not going to run out of birds to paint. At the best, I can share the wonders of the planet with you as they come across my drawing desk.  Wherever that desk goes. Thanks for hearing me out and checking out these Falcons with me.

Black Barn Owl

I still remember the first time I encountered a barn owl. It was a sleepless night in Southern California. I walked outside the house barefoot and walked towards the closest streetlight. I’m not sure why. I found the moon and then walked into the grass. I got close to the large palm tree in the neighbors yard and from within its branches came the most abrasive screech.

And it took off. With not even a whisper.
I couldn’t think of anything to say which was convenient because barn owls don’t speak much English.
Some eight years later that sound brings me so much delight to hear. It only rings in to me in the dead of night. My on going soundtrack to living. Through the window in Oakland or a quiet neighborhood in Berkeley. It’s like a letter in the mailbox from that friend you have that’s always traveling. Or like hearing a song that you listened to once with someone special who later drifted away for one reason or another. So many roads since then.

They still show up though when we break out the paint.

This Barn Owl is a melanistic variation. It has excessive pigments in the feathers making it darker. This occurs in many species in the animal kingdom, not just in birds. The first Barn Owl I saw was not a Black Barn Owl, but rather a white one as is usually the case. Black Barn Owls dont survive well in the wild as they don’t blend in. No camo, no cover.

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Thank you for joining me in looking at the wealth of amazing birds around us.
Learn, Love, Respect, and Protect.
Every day is Earth day, and every day is a good day to draw a bird.

Falcons of the World-Alaska/Arctic Circle

Good golly how about that ride from Santiago, Chile to Anchorage, Alaska eh?
7,890 miles as the Toyota crow flies.
We made it though, but I’m still bummed you threw my “80’s dance hits” mix tape out the window while we were flying over Mexico.
And so now here we are in the great beautiful North. Home of the largest falcon of North America, the Gyrfalcon.
In the summer Gyrfalcons can be found from around 60 degrees to 79 degrees North. Their breeding range covers parts of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Scandinavia, and Siberia.
Winter time ranges of Gyrfalcons is still largely unknown. While some birds remain on their breeding range others winter south. In North America occasionally in the United States and in Asia as far south as Central Asia.
Their favorite meal is Ptarmigan, who can blame them? But studies have found they can take just about any other bird it comes across.
Even short eared owls have fallen prey to a Gyrfalcon. With a bill sharp enough to sever the spine of any bird, the menu is bigger.
They are incredible hunters. Utilizing several different techniques to capture prey. From low fast flight, chasing and tiring the prey out.
To breaking the preys breastbone by forcing it into the ground. They strike prey in the air rather than grab with their talons.
They repurpose Ravens nests and tend to a clutch of 3-5.
Gyrfalcons tend to occur in three different morphs, a dark, a white, and a grey. Shown here is an adult white morph.
I really enjoyed the literature study for this painting. The gyrfalcon is really an incredible bird. I recommend Falcons of the World by Tom J. Cade
It has stunning artwork by R. David Digby and well detailed information on each fascinating member of this incredible group of birds. Falco.
Well The flying Toyota is packed up and I made a new mix tape. “Mo-Town Jams” if you throw this mix tape out the window, were stopping till you find it.
We’re heading to Australia to look at an owl there. I’m not sure which one we’ll decide when we get there.
It’s only 7300 miles.
We got this.
Hold on tight.

Owls of the World-South America

Now we venture to South America to visit with the Magellan Horned Owl also known  as the Lesser Horned Owl. In Chile, it is called Tucúquere, for the rhythm of its song.
This owl resembles a great horned owl but is more lightweight. It was once thought to be a subspecies, but now genetic evidence suggests that it’s a separate species all together.
It hunts from a tall perch for medium sized mammals and birds, preferring rabbits and hares.

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This was a very fun painting to make, I found the ear tufts on these owls can be tricky to do right otherwise it looks like a mutant robot cat or something. Anyway, before we go to Australia to look at an owl there, we have to go to the Arctic to look at a falcon. I’ll see you when we get there.

-Ben.