Oakland

Falcons of the World: Orange-breasted Falcon

Falco deiroleucus.
This falcon is found from southern Mexico south to northern Argentina. But only in small and sporadic locations.
It’s a medium sized falcon with incredibly strong talons for catching birds in flight.
It prefers tropical lowlands and evergreens. Its plumage resembles that of the smaller relative, Bat Falcon (Falco rufigularis). So much that it’s difficult for biologists to confirm reported sightings of the rare bird.
Next up is a trip back to Africa to look at the Spotted Eagle Owl. Bubo africanus.
Thanks for looking at birds 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.

5 black barn text
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.

Owls of the World-Australia

The top of my list of places I’d like to go and see. They have all the badass snakes, spiders, jellyfish.

I chose the Southern Boobook owl to paint for my owls of the world collection.
I don’t own the rights to any photos of one, but crack open another tab on your browser and check these birds out. They’re very cool birds.

I used a couple books to guide me on this one.

“Owls” by Marianne Taylor. 2012 Cornell.

“Owls of the World” by Dr. James R. Duncan. 2003 Firefly Books.

You don’t see a lot of Boobook Owls here in Oakland. In fact most owls here are plastic and intended to strike fear in the hearts of the pigeons. It doesn’t do much, nothing fazes them. Though the Peregrine Falcon that lives on the hospital building wrecks shop on them.

This was a very fun painting to make, it closed up my book project. Which is now available here: http://www.blurb.com/b/7086777-owls

But back to the point. Boobooks are native to mainland Australia, New Guinea, Timor, and the Sunda Islands. They hunt from a perch for small mammals like mice. Also taking insects like beetles and moths. Coloration varies widely across their range. (That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.)

Thanks for looking at owls with me.

 

 

A poem with stones and rocks in it.

I wanted to write you a note and put it in a bottle.
I got as far as the pencil before the radio turned on and the music played.
There are still songs I hear that you can’t be shaken from.
They take me to a golden sienna morning either long ago or that maybe never happened.
There’s a pitcher of water on the table by the door.
The lyrics in your eyes beckon a smile from under the rock pile that is my days since you left.

It’s different here now. I wouldn’t know how to explain it. Though if I had the chance to talk, I could think of better things to discuss.

Like water, dreams, poems, and maps.
Through the incense of nostalgia and the rosy haze, a truth rolls towards me like a stone wheel.
Slowly grinding.
You live now only in my heart and in the notes of these songs as they make their way through the fog.
And that is all right.

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.
f1
When I got to the wings I looked for blue….I found some in my paint box.
f2
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.
f3
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.
falconfinal
Got it sorted well enough.
No simple highway.

In the thick of the evening, when the dealing got rough.

Last night while riding my bike down Telegraph in Oakland I looked up and saw an absolutely giant shooting star. I thought somewhere in the back of my mind I was forgoing moments like that by moving to a big city. It was a nice reminder that not all is as it seems and indeed once in a while you can get shown an actual light in the strangest of places.

You just need to look up.

Maps to get lost with.

I had a delightful afternoon of painting owls and laughing at my own jokes.

My jokes, like when I put the Nashville and the Tennessee Warblers on the same page, this map was begging for the largest owl of each region…..right?

My punch line, The Great Grey and the Eurasian Eagle Owl.
The Great Grey I had painted before but this was my first Bubo. I have seen one once before at a wildlife presentation in Southern California. It was injured and unable to fly but still sat with more pride and power than any human I have ever met.
Its eyes seemed to stare through me like a laser shot through soft butter.
The Great Grey still is a ghost on my list of birds to see. They can be found in California but certainly not on my chair in Oakland so I’ll probably need to pack a backpack and head to the Yosemite region if I want to get closer than photos in books or my own sketch pads.
Great Grey Owl Strix nebulosa

Great Grey Owl
Strix nebulosa

Eurasian Eagle Owl Bubo bubo

Eurasian Eagle Owl
Bubo bubo