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.
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.
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.