Falcons of the World: Peregrine Falcon

Falco peregrinus. 

The first Peregrine I saw was with my dad when he visited me in Morro Bay, Ca. at “the rock”.  It was perched way up there and we checked it out via binoculars. The next peregrine I saw was while standing in the middle of a busy intersection in Oakland, Ca. Somebody yelled “Get outa the street asshole!” And all I could do was point at the cloud of pigeon feathers created by a falcon hitting prey at 200+ mph. Then a couple weeks later while at work at Facebook HQ in Menlo Park, Ca. while drinking a beer with my coworker Brian (we were off the clock) one flew by and I lost my mind with excitement. It was like seeing a celebrity. 

In late 2016 I planned to move back to Illinois. It became clear to me I needed to be closer to my family and those that I loved. A concern I had was that I’d see fewer of the birds I’d fallen so hard for and dedicated so much of my time to illustrate and learn about. 

After four days on the road driving across half of North America and counting every hawk I saw (27) I pulled into my parents driveway. My dad (whom had driven all the way to California to help me move home) and I hugged in the drive way in celebration. This was the same place where we stood when I left for California almost 10 years prior. It was dusk and I walked out into the field next to the house and heard clearly the distinct call of a great horned owl. I knew then I was home and my raptor adventures had only just begun. 

Leaving California was a big change in many ways. But then there I was this February in Chicago, the city by the lake, watching two peregrines hunting shorebirds.  It was like watching cheetahs on the discovery channel hunt gazelle. 

I’d been wanting to revisit this painting and pose for a while and finally got back to it on a wood panel my Dad made for me. Here we are almost exactly 5 years since I first put it on page (wooden page) in Oakland.

We’re back again coming in to land on an outstretched hand. 

I’m so grateful for my family for all they have done to push me to learn, love, and grow. I’m also grateful for you for looking at birds with me. Thank you so much. 

This one’s for you Dad!

Falcons of the World: Bat Falcon

Falco rufigularis

Here’s a small falcon species found in tropical forest regions of southern Mexico and south as far as Argentina. Rufigularis feeds primarily on bats (yeah right?), birds, insects, and small mammals. 

I have already painted one of these for you. A wonderful specimen sits in the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. Just a few miles south of my drawing desk. I’ve photographed it countless times to aid in paintings like this. 


I send you my best. 

Thanks so much for looking at birds with me. 

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

Falco peregrinus. (Again probably).

I cracked open a can of cola and laid out the paints I would need. As well as several books opened to pages with peregrines on them. To double check the colors I imagined.
I always start these with some idea but a lot of it I figure out on my way through it. Still learning how to best translate from pencil to paint.
When I got to the wings I looked for blue….I found some in my paint box.
The body through me for a loop, and I sat staring at it for a good bit. In the background I could hear the soundtrack of a movie I was half watching. Somebody was laughing.
A glance to the window and I knew where to go. Like driving in the night and checking the map under a streetlight. (I guess now everybody looks at their phone).
I brought back the smallest brush and approached like it was my micron pen. With the precision of a drunk surgeon with a rusty scalpel.
I like paper maps.
Got it sorted well enough.
No simple highway.

Some folks trust to reason, others trust to might…

Sitting up here in this tree I can see a distance.
From leaving Illinois, to that feeling of being lost and not being looked for.
From stringing her along, to closing the door.
From her lake in northern Michigan, to the western coast I call home.
It seems often that we get lost in the day to day and can forget what moves it all.
I find the easiest way for me to connect to that is to sit on my chair and draw birds.
While I do that I feel I can review my wrongs, and appraise my truths in a manner most fitting for a boy with my middle name.

I'm a big fan of the non-photo blue pencils. I go a bit heavier with them than I need to but I enjoy seeing it through the graphite latter on in the night.

I’m a big fan of the non-photo blue pencils. I go a bit heavier with them than I need to but I enjoy seeing it through the graphite latter on in the night.

And like a desert mirage brought to my bedroom it comes to life before my eyes. and now yours thanks to this series of tubes we call the internet.

And like a desert mirage brought to my bedroom it comes to life before my eyes. And now yours thanks to this series of tubes we call the internet.

So again thank you for taking a look at the world from my tree top.

So again thank you for taking a look at the world from my tree top.

Sketchbook to ward off the rains

Because the hawks aren’t always in the meadow and the song birds seldom perch on my neighbor’s tree.
So I sit down to piece together my own birds of a feather from pencil, time, and pen.
And sometimes a lightning storm rolls through on a July afternoon. Cooling the air before the fireflies come out and I run to catch them.
If I was locked into a game of perpetual solitaire eye-spy. Then I’m just going to have to carry along a sketch pad to catch whatever falls near me.
It can be my umbrella.

skipping pages forward in a book you once read.


All to aware time isn’t standing still,
Still he’d like to clear another rise.
Snowflakes across his starry eyes.
To feel alone would be a blessing for this one.
Recanting any statement of any sort of wisdom gained.
As to owe no debt to a situation. He’s a walking superstition.
Unknowingly so.
Where can I find you?
In my church.
The howling winds are my church bells ringing,
The mockingbird is the choir singing.
The rocky peak is the church’s steeple,
The trees around are it’s people.