Owls of the World: Indian Eagle Owl

Bubo bengalensis. Indian Eagle Owl or Rock Eagle Owl. Found from W. Himalayas east to W. Burma, and south through Pakistan and India, but not Sri Lanka. like most owls, they’re reluctant to fly over large open waters. They prefer rocky and rugged landscapes but can also be found in forested areas or near edges of cities.

Bubo bengalensis hunts rats, mice, and also birds, reptiles, frogs, and large insects. They Hunt from a perch or in a low foraging flight. The Indian Eagle Owl’s song is a two-note hoot, the second note is stronger. If upset they make an angry hissing sound.

They nest on the ground or on a rocky outcrop. Laying 2-4 eggs at a time which are incubated by the female for around 35 days.

Thanks for looking at birds with me.

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Owls of the World: Spotted Wood Owl.

Strix seloputo.

The Spotted Wood Owl is a medium sized owl. Averaging 18 inches tall. They are found across Southeast Asia. Its diet consists of rats, mice, small birds, and large insects. They roost by day, often close to the trunks of trees in dense foliage to avoid detection from other birds. They nest high up in trees, and lay up to three eggs at a time. They prefer nesting in partially clear forests and hunt in open areas. They can be found in populated areas, as well  as remote regions and areas not easily accessed like swamp forests and mangroves.

My plan was to hold off on painting more in this series until I was settled in Chicago. But I found this old panel while packing and cleaned it up and went for what could best be described as an encore. It was such a privilege to get to paint all these here in Oakland, and I’m very excited for the projects to come in Chicago. Another huge thank you to all my friends and family for all the support. My goal with all this is simple; Share the birds of the world with you all. Now my easel is packed and my brushes too. Stay tuned for a Bateleur Eagle, found in Zimbabwe, Africa. Coming to you from the city by the lake.

And once more for good measure, thank you for looking at birds with me.

Owls of the World: Short-Eared Owl

Six years ago or so, up on the railroad tracks in rural San Luis Obispo county is where I found my first owl while exploring in California.
The eyes were a striking yellow. We looked at each other for a second that sat like an hour.
It flew away to my left without the slightest sound of wind over wing. More like a ghost than anything I’ve ever seen.

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The Short-Eared Owl, Asio flammeus.
Preferring to live in open prairie and fields, this owl can be easier to find than some of the more reclusive owls like Strix nebulosa.
Their range is much of the top half of North America. They have lost a lot of their range in the south due to loss of habitat.
These owls do most their hunting at dawn and dusk. Locating small mammals by ear while in flight. They kill prey with a bite to the back of the head.
Their smaller ear tufts are often not visible. My model for this painting didn’t  seem to have any at all.
Some research I read said they only show when they feel threatened.
I cant confirm that, as my model was a series of photographs from an excellent book.
“Owls” by Floyd Scholz, photographs by Tad Merrick. Stackpole Books. Over 380 pages of awesome. If you love owls, its a great book for you.
I painted this one all the way through while enjoying the livestream from Dead & Company’s show in Washington. Hard to beat having a band like that in your ear while hanging out with an owl.
Thanks for joining me again to look at birds. There’s some messed up shit happening out there. I’m glad  we could share this together.

Owls of the world

Last April I painted 20 warbler species of North America. This April I’m working on a collection of Owls of the world.

My goal with painting these animals has always been to bring their significance to light so that they may be saved for future generations to enjoy. That notion doesn’t know borders or continents and neither does my imagination or paint brush.
So I’ve been collecting books and photographs and making new lists to look at for paintings. To present the wonder of the many species of Owls that inhabit our planet.

The first is the Western Siberian Eagle Owl.
18 siberian text

The western Siberian eagle owl is a top predator in the Arctic pine forests across Siberia.

It took a lot of pencil pushing before I found my eagle owl in this one. You can see by the photos it didn’t unfold at speed. At one point I pulled out the big eraser and took the poor birds head clear off.

But that is what I expect with trying to catch the nuances of these fascinating creatures.  Lots of back and forth. I look at photos in the morning on my way to work of the previous nights sketches and make notes of changes to be made.

I learned even more useful methods for painting on this project. I learned new ways to paint the eyes and the folded wings. Two areas I’ve never felt that I have had a solid technique for.
It was a very productive project in the learning I gained throughout.

I’ve already traveled from Siberia to North Western Africa where I’ve found the Pharaoh Eagle Owl and begun to record.

3 pharaoh pencil

On our way back around again. (Thank you).

I started a new calendar on the wall, (a lot of us recently did I believe). With that I’ve been upping my game with owls. One of the more difficult subjects for me to paint. These were so much fun, while frustrating. A project full of lessons and development.

I am very grateful for another year here painting you birds and sharing the beauty of our planet the best way I can. Thank you for sharing this planet with me. You make it a home planet.


Gratefully yours,


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Again (again).

“Begging your indulgence, We’re going to do yet another song in the key of G”

-Bob Weir, The Grateful Dead

And so begging your indulgence I’m going to do yet another drawing in the key of Owl.

Thanks for bearing with me yet again while I move around the lines on the page.

And sometimes you have to sit on a chair miles away from a rainstorm and hope to see lightning strike the same place twice. With that stubborn persistence, it will. Tonight my personal case-in-point. I put pen to plywood again and got another Great Horned Owl that gave me chills like the one I met in Tahoe some years back.

The one is a map to the other.

The one is a map to the other.

Great Horned Owl

I’ve had this one on my mind for a while. Until recently I never saw on the page what I did in my mind.

With the help of field time, some great literature, a stack of sketchbooks, and zero social life, I have found a foot hold on the uphill battle that I call owl portraits.

Sketches of Spain...except owls....and I was watching cartoons and I misplaced my Miles Davis CDs.

Sketches of Spain…except owls….and I was watching cartoons and I misplaced my Miles Davis CDs.

Like a lead in a detective case. While I'm far from having the nuances of the owl captured, I'm off to a good start. This is the motivation I hoped for going into a new year.

Like a lead in a detective case. While I’m far from having the nuances of the owl captured, I’m off to a good start. This is the motivation I hoped for going into a new year.

That owl I wanted to draw you.

The Great Gray has been a front burner project for the last couple weeks. I sketched a couple dozen before I started this drawing. And just the same this bird seemed to assemble itself in front of me while my eyes watched, and pen went to work. There’s a depth to this drawing I haven’t seen in many of my others before. I tried to visualize every feather and bring them all together one at a time. While this is proven to be quite time consuming, it pushes me deeper in love with the process.

All that’s left is color…


Great Gray Owl

The Great Gray Owl has been of interest to me lately. The largest of our Owls in North America. They hunt over forest clearings and nearby open space by night.
The rings on the face make the yellow eyes appear smaller.
This was my initial sketch after just looking over a few photographs and books. Further studies will yield better illustrations I’m confident.
Two years ago when I decided I wanted to write and illustrate my own collection of birds, I was uncertain of my capabilities of capturing the nuances of the Owls. While I’m still far from mastering it, I do see delightful progress in the direction I desire.