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.

ornate haekeagle processB2

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.

Falcons of the World: Peregrine Falcon (Again indeed)

Falco peregrinus.

I first learned about these fine birds from a book when I was in second grade. Every time my class visited the library I went straight to the wildlife section and dove in. Fast forward some 20 some years and I’m still fascinated by these fine falcons.

I’m grateful to have had many different experiences with them in the wild. From California to Illinois in a number of different habitats. There’s really nothing quite like watching them fly, hunt, dive, and dine.

Falco t-shirt process edit

I’ve made a few different Peregrine panels over the last five years. This pose is among my favorites and so I duplicated it. I’m proud to be working on panels my father made for me in his wood shop.

Thanks Dad, and thanks to you for looking at birds with me.

Raptors of the World: Red-tailed Hawk (juvenile)

I’ve painted plenty of adult Red-tailed Hawks and wanted to do a panel painting of a first year hawk. Even more specifically a light morph. Red-tailed hawks don’t gain their namesake red tail feathers until their second and even sometimes third year.

This was painted on a panel that’s been used for a few different paintings and has been sanded down many times and washed with several different background colors. That’s what gave it the unique coloring you see here.

I’ve probably painted more of these birds than any other. They hold a special place in my heart. Thank you so much for looking at birds with me.

rtha lite process

Owls of the World: Barn Owl (again)

Tyto alba. 

One of the most wide spread species of owl on the planet. They are found on all continents except Antarctica. These owls occupy open and lightly forested regions as well as agriculture and urban areas. 

Barn owls feed primarily on small mammals such as mice, rats, and voles. Most of which are hunted from a perch. Bats occasionally make the menu as well, taken in flight. A barn owl family with nestlings can consume as many as 10,000 rodents per year. This makes them a friend to corn and grain farmers everywhere. 

barn owl process

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

Eagles of the World: Wedge-tailed Eagle

Aquila audax. 

Australia’s largest bird of prey. Found in a variety of habitats across Australia and southern New Guinea. 

Feeds on a variety of prey animals. Large lizards, birds, rabbits, wallabies, young kangaroos, bandicoots, goats, sheep, and carrion make up just some of the menu. 

wedge tailed process

I made another Wedge-tailed panel two years ago when I first moved to Chicago from Oakland. It was the second panel I made in my new home. They’re a tricky bird to paint, their faces aren’t fully feathered and that’s a fun challenge. 

Eagles of the World: Martial Eagle

Polemaetus bellicosus.

Africa’s largest species of eagle. Found in open areas with grass and thorn bushes and wooded savanna. In Central and Southern Africa.

Hunts from a perch near a waterhole or clearing. Feeds on mammals, birds, and reptiles. Prey varies wildly by region and availability. From rabbits, hyraxes, and even monkeys, jackals, and small wild cats. Birds of different sizes and monitor lizards make up a substantial amount of the menu.

(Ferguson-Lees, Christie and Franklin, 2005)

martial eagle progression

I have been keeping busy with the panels but not posting them here because they were all birds we’ve looked at a lot here. So here’s a new one we haven’t seen here yet. Acrylic paint on wood panel. Thanks a bunch for looking at birds with me.

Raptors of the world: Black-Hawk Eagle

Spizaetus tyrannus.

A medium size bird of prey of the Americas. Found in tropical forested regions in Southern Mexico, and south throughout Central America all the way to Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil. They hunt a variety of prey usually from a perch. They take prey as large as toucans, small monkey, and iguanas. Bats, squirrels, snakes, and possum are also on the menu.  Nests are made high in the treetops, and made of branches, vines, and sticks.

This was a fun panel to paint. Making such a dark colored bird stand out on the panel was an enjoyable challenge. Thanks for looking at birds with me.

My source for the biological information:

Clark, W. and Schmitt, N. (n.d.). Raptors of Mexico and Central America. 2017.

black hawk eagle process final

Hawks of the World: Cooper’s Hawk

Accipiter cooperii.

We’ve looked at this one here before. I featured the male Cooper’s hawk on this very panel in the spring of 2015. I’ve learned a lot about painting and this species since then. I felt it was time to sand that painting off and start anew. This time featuring the female Cooper’s hawk. I’ve included a few pen and watercolor illustrations to help further illustrate the differences between the male and female plumage as well as one to help differentiate from the Sharp-shinned hawk (Accipiter striatus).

coopers hawk male and female

Females Cooper’s hawks are larger than males and can take larger prey. Males tend to only take small birds, while the females can take birds as well as small mammals like squirrels and rabbits. Nests are made in treetops and laying 3-5 eggs per clutch. eggs are a cobalt blue color.

Cooper’s hawks can be found throughout North America. Preferring woodland habitat where they chase down prey through the treetops. They’re also found in urban environments. Preying on birds and squirrels that frequent bird feeders.

It can be easy to confuse Cooper’s hawks with Sharp-shinned hawks (Accipiter striatus). Especially given the size differences between male and female Cooper’s hawks. A male Cooper’s hawk can be the size of a female Sharp-shinned hawk. The tail feathers of the two are the best indicator of who’s who. Here’s an illustration I put together to explain the differences.

coops compaired to sharpie

Thanks for looking at birds with me.

collage 3

Hawks of the World: Jackal Buzzard

Buteo rufofuscus

One of the more interesting colored hawks of Africa. Found in the mountainous and open regions of Southern Africa. Prey includes small mammals like mice, moles, and hyrax. Though reptiles and birds also make up a healthy portion of their menu, and occasionally carrion. The Jackal Buzzard is similar in size to the Red-tailed Hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) of North America. Not surprising as they’re related.

Nests are constructed by both the male and female. Utilizing branches, leaves, and grass. The preferred nest spots are high in treetops and on cliff sides.

jackal buzzard1

I have made a couple of pen and watercolor illustrations of this bird, it was fun to make a life size panel painting. Thanks a bunch for looking at birds with me.

jackal buzzard process