Falcons of the World: Bat Falcon

Falco rufigularis

Here’s a small falcon species found in tropical forest regions of southern Mexico and south as far as Argentina. Rufigularis feeds primarily on bats (yeah right?), birds, insects, and small mammals. 

I have already painted one of these for you. A wonderful specimen sits in the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. Just a few miles south of my drawing desk. I’ve photographed it countless times to aid in paintings like this. 

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I send you my best. 

Thanks so much for looking at birds with me. 

Raptors of the World: Ornate Hawk-Eagle

Spizaetus ornatus

A medium size eagle found in tropical forests of Central and South America.  Aptly named for its unique coloration and head crest of black feathers.

Prefers to hunt from a perch or high glide in thick tropical forests. The dinner menu for Spizaetus ornatus is a variety of small mammals, birds, and reptiles.

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My favorite raptor of South America (There’s some solid competition there too).  I’ve made a few paintings of this one before but until now I feel I hadn’t captured its nuances. Then again having never been on the same continent as one, it’s hard to say. Thank you so much for looking at birds with me.

Hawks of the World: Red-tailed Hawk

Buteo jamaicensis.

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.

rtha flight panel process

rtha panel paired 999

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.

Hawks of the World: Cooper’s Hawk

Accipiter cooperii.

Cooper’s hawks are definitely high in the ranks of my favorite birds to watch, draw, and paint. Always a difficult bird to id from it’s cousin the Sharp shinned hawk (Accipiter striatus). I’ve shared other paintings here of this fighter jet-like song bird hunter. This is the first painting I’ve shared of one I’ve put together on a panel my amazing wood-working father had assembled. When I started these panel paintings years back, I was living in Oakland, Ca. I bought my panels from an art supply store. I imagined how cool it’d be to be able to live close to home and paint on panels my dad made. Or at least commandeer his wood shop to make my own panels.  Fast forward some five years and here we are. My dad turns out 10 panels a week for me. I’m sitting on an amazing back-stock of high quality panels and all I have to do is decide which bird to paint.

So I went to the Cooper’s Hawk. One of the first I saw upon my return to my home town four years ago and one I’ve seen plenty of since. In fact one I enjoy so much upon finishing this last one, I started fresh again with another. A feat only easily accomplished by having the wonderfully supportive friends and family I have, and a fine stock of papa-made wood panels.

So I thank you for looking at hawks with me, and my father for providing me with the supplies I need to keep my heart soaring through the branches after birds like the Cooper’s Hawk does.

 

 

Raptors of the World: Crowned Hawk-Eagle

Stephanoaetus coronatus

Crowned Hawk-Eagles are said to be Africa’s strongest bird of prey. Found in densely forested areas of central and southern regions of Africa. These large eagles feed primarily on mammals, also birds and reptiles. Hyrax, monkeys, and even domesticated cats are taken. 

crowned hawk eagle process

Buteo Hawks of North America

 

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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).

 

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Sources:

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