North America’s most widespread raptor. Found in open regions of Mexico all the way north to Alaska and just about every point between. They prefer grasslands, fields, deserts, roadsides, parks, farmland, and broken forests. They feed primarily on small mammals, birds, reptiles, and swarming insects. They hunt from a perch like utility poles and trees. They also hunt on the wing, soaring in circles, gliding on thermals. These hawks mate for life, nesting in treetops, cliff sides, and man made structures. They lay a clutch of between 1 and 5 eggs. Incubation time varies from 28-35 days.
It’s no secret this is my favorite bird to study. In the field or in the studio they never fail to capture my imagination. They embody a sense of exploration and beauty to me. They were a common sight in my 20s when I was exploring California by bicycle and have remained a common sight as I enjoy my home near the prairie remnants of Illinois.
I put together these two paintings over the last couple weeks on panels my father made for me in his workshop. I can’t begin to express what a great gift it is to be able to paint on a panel he made, and to have his generous support all my life.
I’m so glad I get to share these birds and art with you all, thank you so much for looking at birds with me.
This was my first project of 2020 and my first large project on canvas in a few years. It took me longer than I expected to get all the squares of the sky just exactly perfect. One of the few paintings I’ve made where the hawk was the “easy” part.
We’ve looked at this bird together before, and I’m grateful for another opportunity to share it with y’all again. North America’s largest species of Accipiter hawk. Found in forested areas of North America, Europe, Asia, and even northernmost Africa. They feed on a wider variety of prey animals than other Accipiter hawks. Birds, small mammals, insects, amphibians, and reptiles make up the menu.
This was a fun one to paint. I took my time with it over three weeks. Having made a few portraits of this species in recent months I felt it was past time for a full scale illustration of the bird in acrylic paint on a birch panel. So here we are.
Thanks so much for looking at birds with me again.
Also known as the Patagonia Red-Tailed Hawk. A medium size bird of prey found in forested areas of southern Chile and Argentina. Feeds on small mammals and birds. Very little has been published as far as population, prey animals, and breeding.
Ferguson-Lees, J., Christie, D. and Franklin, K. (2005). Raptors of the world. Princeton: Princeton University.
We’ve looked at this one here before. I featured the male Cooper’s hawk on this very panel in the spring of 2015. I’ve learned a lot about painting and this species since then. I felt it was time to sand that painting off and start anew. This time featuring the female Cooper’s hawk. I’ve included a few pen and watercolor illustrations to help further illustrate the differences between the male and female plumage as well as one to help differentiate from the Sharp-shinned hawk (Accipiter striatus).
Females Cooper’s hawks are larger than males and can take larger prey. Males tend to only take small birds, while the females can take birds as well as small mammals like squirrels and rabbits. Nests are made in treetops and laying 3-5 eggs per clutch. eggs are a cobalt blue color.
Cooper’s hawks can be found throughout North America. Preferring woodland habitat where they chase down prey through the treetops. They’re also found in urban environments. Preying on birds and squirrels that frequent bird feeders.
It can be easy to confuse Cooper’s hawks with Sharp-shinned hawks (Accipiter striatus). Especially given the size differences between male and female Cooper’s hawks. A male Cooper’s hawk can be the size of a female Sharp-shinned hawk. The tail feathers of the two are the best indicator of who’s who. Here’s an illustration I put together to explain the differences.
One of the more interesting colored hawks of Africa. Found in the mountainous and open regions of Southern Africa. Prey includes small mammals like mice, moles, and hyrax. Though reptiles and birds also make up a healthy portion of their menu, and occasionally carrion. The Jackal Buzzard is similar in size to the Red-tailed Hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) of North America. Not surprising as they’re related.
Nests are constructed by both the male and female. Utilizing branches, leaves, and grass. The preferred nest spots are high in treetops and on cliff sides.
I have made a couple of pen and watercolor illustrations of this bird, it was fun to make a life size panel painting. Thanks a bunch for looking at birds with me.
This apex predator is a rare sight in the rainforests of South and Central America. They hunt mostly large mammals such as monkeys and sloths. They also take large birds, lizards, and snakes. They hunt from a perch then attack from a stoop. Striking their prey with talons as large as grizzly bear claws. Arguably one of the strongest eagles at least in its range. Distinguishable by its two crests on each side of its head. Both sexes are alike in plumage but like many other raptors, females are larger.
They build large stick nests as high in the canopy as possible. The average clutch is two eggs. Young Harpy Eagles are dependent on their parents for over a year after hatching so most pairs mate biyearly.
We took our first look at harpy eagles here back in September of 2017. Since then I’ve finished up a few more illustrations and readings and decided it’d be fun to make another large harpy eagle painting. So thanks for taking another look at this apex predator of the Central and South American rainforests 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.