Owls of the World: Black-banded Owl

Here’s a Black-banded Owl, Strix huhula.

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.

Black-banded pair


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. 


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. 

B word back final.jpg

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.
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,


Owls of the World: Spotted Eagle Owl

Bubo africanus.

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….

One step done, another begun.

I wonder how many miles…

Sitting on my chair again, to get to the point of writing you here I pass through some places on the internet. On my way here I read some further accounts of some events that gave my heart the weight of lead. That’s one of the good reasons to draw lots of birds, because you can call em all up to pick you up. or at the very least come to realize you have an Ornithological sketch hoarding issue…



“Spent a little time on the mountain
Spent a little time on the hill
I saw things getting out of hand
I guess they always will

I don’t know but I been told
if the horse don’t pull you got to carry the load
I don’t know whose back’s that strong
Maybe find out before too long

One way or another
One way or another
One way or another
this darkness got to give”

-Robert Hunter, The Grateful Dead.

Three little birds for Bob Marley.

There’s another stack of books on my desk:

1. National Geographic’s field guide to the Birds of North America.

2. The journal I first wrote these words in.

3. Jim Harrison’s “The Woman Lit by Fireflies”.

The voice of a ghost sings through the dust on the speakers. It’s a reggae song about love and hope.

I’ll turn it up but the hour is late. So I turn it up in my mind.

I can put away the paintbrushes, it’s past 10pm and my work is done.

I freed the sketches from the cage inside my head.

Bird pun? real classy…

Lesser Goldfinch

Lesser Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

Purple Finch.

Purple Finch.

Strange dreams and hawks with colored wings.

A hawk in the sky, never wondering why.

A hawk in the sky, never wondering why.


Another day, and another colored page. I got this little notebook of watercolor paper last Saturday. Each day since I’ve filled a page with a drawing and color. There are 15 sheets total in the book. You can do that math pretty easily.  Not too long and I’ll be heading back for more blank pages. I always do.
It’s been mostly raptors since I finished my warbler collection.
 I’ll tell you something honest. I haven’t slept right since I finished the Chestnut-sided Warbler some weeks back.
The way I see the drawings is like this: The warblers were a bright colorful poem, while the raptors are a lone song blowing over the prairie.
Maybe that shift is why my dreams have been so strange? Silliness, because it’s not like if I draw a Virginia’s Warbler tonight my dreams will be sweet. it’s clearly an unrelated phenomenon, much to my imagination’s dismay. Or as I explain it to myself, rather a larger illustration at work within my mind, the sort that I have no business now trying to pencil onto a page.  As it will draw its self in due time.
Whatever the case, I tell you this, I’d rather draw any sort of thing and give it color whilst having horrid dreams, than to sleep the night through and never bring a page any color at all.
Thank you birds and strange dreams, This is my life and I enjoy it very much.


Let the echo decide if I was right or wrong

When reading through the titles of the posts on my blog it won’t take long to find the musical influences on my artwork.
My dad shared a lot of really great music with me while I grew up. We went on a lot of  camping trips all of which involved a good ol’ fashioned road trip.
These trips are where I heard Bob Dylan’s music for the first time. Between Frank Zappa albums and NPR shows like Car Talk and Prairie Home Companion.
Dylan’s lyrics stick to my brain like glue, and climb out of my head to help me reference and sort out trials in my personal life and the world around me.
The end of a doomed from the get-go relationship last fall brought me to “It’s all right, don’t think twice”.
Just about any news coverage of violence brings me to “Desolation Row”….”The riot squad is restless, they need somewhere to go”.
That mysterious girl I met in the meadow last month reminds me of the words, “She’s got everything she needs
She’s an artist, she don’t look back,  She can take the dark out of the nighttime,  And paint the daytime black.”
Spending days on end working on these drawings furthers the connection some how.
Red-shoulder Hawk.

Red-shoulder Hawk.

Zone-tailed Hawk.

Zone-tailed Hawk.

From simple to sublime, I connect strongly to his poetry.
While I heard Dylan’s music a lot as a youngster, it was the Grateful Dead who I found as a teenager that brought me closer to Dylan’s work and more importantly his lyrics. Neither Dylan or the Dead will probably win an award for best singing voices, that’s not the point. Though I’m in so position to say so, I’d venture to guess it’s the poetry in the song that is the point.
I listen to a lot of music and I draw a lot of birds. There’s a connection there, but I’m not sure where and I’m not terribly interested in finding out what it is. I just know it works for me.
My goal above all is to share the results of such in some way with the world to give light to a beauty sorely missing in many of our day to day lives.
This will be how I save the world around me, or at least try.