Buteo Hawks of North America


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Here’s five of the more common Buteo hawks found in Canada, Mexico, and The United States. All feed primarily on small mammals such as: Rabbits, voles, mice, squirrels, and prairie dogs. Insects, birds, and reptiles are also on their menu. All are frequently found in open areas. Grasslands, desert, and sparsely forested areas. Many have adapted to human habitation impacts and can be found hunting from a perch upon a utility pole along an urban roadside.

For more information about these birds definitely check out www.allaboutbirds.org

It’s one of my favorite online resources for raptors and other birds of North America.

I’d like to credit Floyd Scholz’s book “Birds of Prey” (Stackpole Books 1993.) as an indispensable resource in raptor illustration.

These illustrations are done in Micron pen and watercolor.

Thanks so much for looking at birds with me.


Raptors of the World: Ornate Hawk-Eagle

Central and South America are home to an interesting variety of birds of prey.  The Ornate Hawk-Eagle is definitely no exception. If its name hadn’t already made that clear.

Found in humid tropical forests from southern Mexico and south as far as Argentina. While rare in its range it’s listed as near threatened in its IUCN Conservation Status.

A powerful bird, like other booted eagle species they are capable of taking prey up to five times their own body weight. Feeding on birds such as toucans, little blue heron, parrots, chickens, and wood quail. Mammals also make up a large portion of their diets, such as Agoutis, squirrels, rats, and monkeys. Snakes, lizards, and other reptiles round out the menu.

Nests are made high in treetops, and comprised of large sticks. Usually only laying one egg at a time in breeding season (April-June).




Ferguson-Lees, J., Christie, D. and Franklin, K. (2005). Raptors of the world. Princeton: Princeton University.

Clark, W., Schmitt, N. and Kiff, L. (2017). Raptors of Mexico and Central America. Princeton: Princeton University Press.


Hawks of the World: Red Shouldered Hawk

Buteo lineatus.

Definitely one of my favorite birds to watch and paint. Found across eastern North America and along the California coast south into Mexico. Hunting from a perch and on the wing. They take a variety of prey, ranging from small mammals, birds, insects, snakes and occasionally fish.  Found in forested and open areas. Nests are built of branches in treetops at 35-50 feet up. They lay usually 3 eggs per clutch.

red shouldered hawks

RSHA map

Thanks a bunch for looking at birds with me. We covered this bird already here something like three years ago and I felt it was time to have another go at painting this bird as I’ve learned a lot since the last time. I’m glad I did, this was very fun to put together.

Eagles of the World: Wedge-Tailed Eagle

Aquila audax…
…is Australia’s largest bird of prey. These eagles are great flyers gliding for hours on end. They hunt live prey such as small kangaroos, wallabies, possums, and koalas. As well as nonnative species such as foxes, hares, and feral cats. Searching for carrion is another common behavior. At times searching out for ravens to commandeer their finds. Roadkill is a favorite snack of theirs, and can be found on roadsides clearing carcasses. Their keen eyesight extends to ultraviolet spectrums. While carrion is a large part of their diet, they have shown impressive hunting skills. Even teaming together to drive goats off cliffs and taking large red kangaroos. They also have been found to drive a heard of sheep to isolate weaker animals. Much like a wolf of the sky. Truly one of Australia’s great alpha predators. wdged pair.jpg

Kestrel (again probably).

Two drawings, but only one got to stick around. The North American kestrels is one really amazing bird. I’ll call it a good day, regardless of the outcome if I spot a Kestrel while about in the world.

I sketched this one out yesterday after finishing the crow/raven. I rather like this approach. I found that some of my earlier attempts at this species looked like pigeons with war paint. Now there’s nothing wrong with a warrior pigeon, just not quite what I was after. However this one rings truer for me anyway.

I spotted a Kestrel last Tuesday, riding my bicycle back to work carrying a backpack full of hamburgers....true story.

I spotted a Kestrel last Tuesday, riding my bicycle back to work carrying a backpack full of hamburgers….true story.

One more on my ever shifting list of favorite raptors to sketch.

One more on my ever shifting list of favorite raptors to sketch.

Summer flies and August dies…


I don’t think it’s a stretch of the truth to say the Peregrine Falcon is an inspiring animal. While diving they’ve been clocked in at over 200mph/320kph. They look like little fighter jets with eyes and claws.  My Father and I spotted a Peregrine on the Morro Bay rock this past weekend. This got me thinking about how to illustrate them in a fashion that shows some of their prowess, strength, and precision.

With sketching birds it’s easy for me to get in a rut of several similar poses back to back. I broke up a series of owl studies with this new-to-me composition. A Peregrine with a fresh kill. I didn’t draw in a background, because I was so startled by the new bird my pencil brought to the page I didn’t want to screw it all up trying to draw in a rock or something stupid like that. I’m going to work more on this sort of layout.

Velociraptor skull

Velociraptor skull

Insert John Williams score here_____________.

I looked at a few pictures of fossils before I started this one but mostly from memory. While not exactly scientifically accurate it gets the point across. After the bird skull this seemed a logical step. I like mixing amber colors together, this was another excuse to indulge that.

I’m back at work on another plate of warblers now.
Yellow, Magnolia, Red-Faced, Blackburnian, Hooded, and the rare Kirtlands Warblers.

Their still in pencil. I like to leave my pencil drawings around the house to look at for a while before I pen them in. helps me keep a solid perspective and catch any mistakes hiding in plane sight like they often do for me.

Hollow Hawk

Hollow Hawk

I’ve worked on this one throughout the week. Finishing it this afternoon. My soundtrack was the Grateful Dead from the County Coliseum in El Paso, TX 11/23/73. Click the picture for a link to a soundboard copy of the show.

I made a Barn owl in a similar fashion a few months back, I liked that result so I went for a raptor. I title it as a hawk, but it has more golden eagle traits.

Something I enjoy about both drawing birds and listening to music (Grateful Dead) is there is a deep well of inspiration.
Raptors and song birds, dead shows from 73 or 89.
warblers and crows, Dead from the Cow Palace in 74.
You get the point.

I frequent Archive.org a lot largely for Grateful Dead family bands but also I find new bands all the time.

Sun so hot, clouds so low, the eagles filled the sky…