science

Raptors of the World: African Harrier-Hawk

African Harrier-Hawk or African Gymnogene. These large birds of prey are found in most regions south of the Sahara. They Feed on oil palm fruits, and uses its long double jointed legs to reach into dead trees and crevices to steal eggs or snatch at small mammals, reptiles, and insects. Also hunts from a perch or even walking on the ground. They build stick nests and lay 1-3 eggs per clutch. 


Afri Har Hawk

Thanks for looking at birds with me!

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Owls of the World: Black-banded Owl

Here’s a Black-banded Owl, Strix huhula.

These owls have an extensive range in northern and central South America. Preferring tropical and subtropical forests. Also found in banana and coffee plantations. They feed at night primarily on insects such as mantises, beetles, and locusts that it catches in flight. Little is known of breeding and nesting habits. They grow to be 12-14 inches tall with a wing span of 16 inches.

Black-banded pair

Birds of the World: Emperor Penguin

Aptenodytes forsteri.

The tallest and heaviest of all penguin species. A fascinating social bird endemic to Antarctica. They feed primarily on fish and sometimes crustaceans and squid. They swim to catch fish and can stay submerged as long as 18 minutes. Several adaptations allow this, including unique blood, and a control of its metabolism allowing it to conserve energy in low oxygen situations.

They are the only bird known to breed during the Antarctic winter. Traveling in groups to breeding territories. Females lay one egg which is incubated by the male. The average lifespan is 20 years though researchers have found some as old as 50. In large nesting sites mates communicate with complex and unique vocalizations.

Thanks again for looking at birds with me.

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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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Eagles of the World: Bateleur Eagle

The Bateleur Eagle, Terathopius ecaudatus is an interesting colored bird with a very short tail. Found in decreasing numbers across sub-Saharan Africa. They cover large territories of upwards of 250 square miles. They both hunt and scavenge on these vast expanses. Taking small birds and mammals as well as carrion. They seem to prefer snakes, and have developed very rough scaled feet to protect them from bites. 

Bateleur Eagles mate for life, and lay one egg per clutch. Eggs are incubated by the female for 42-43 days. While they are usually found in alone or in pairs, they have been spotted in groups of up to 20 birds. Their closest relatives are the Snake Eagles. 

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This is my first painting in my Raptors of the World series that I’ve completed since moving back to Illinois. I stretched this project out and enjoyed it. Spending the days between brush strokes with family and friends. I was also able to utilize the vast collection of birds at the Field Museum of Natural History.  Eagles have a hold on my imagination a lot lately. Next I’m going to look at Wedge-Tailed Eagles from Australia. 

Thanks for looking at birds with me. 

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Owls of the World: Snowy Owl

Bubo scandiacus.

One of the easiest to identify owls of the world. Found in the northernmost regions of the planet. The Snowy Owl is truly a unique owl, in its plumage and hunting habits.

Largely diurnal, it does most of its hunting by day. Taking small mammals, mostly lemmings, but also ptarmigans, rabbits, and mice. One snowy owl can take as many as 1,600 lemmings per year.
They hunt from a perch and pursue prey, capturing them with their massive talons. They can also locate prey by ear, even through thick grass and snow.

They lay 3-11 eggs depending on availability of food and have been known to be extremely defensive of their nests. Fighting off wolves and any other predators.
snowy-all
This owl has been on my to-do list for years. It wasn’t until this fall that I felt I had the technical skills to get it done like the others. I used yellows and blues to add some dynamic. This is likely my last owl that I’ll get done here in Oakland. My next few projects will be African raptors, and those will be coming to you from Chicago, Illinois.
I am forever grateful for the time I’ve been able to spend in Oakland, I underestimated its potential, but learned quickly of its heart, passion, and beauty.
I’m excited for the art and adventures to come in the city by the lake.
A heartfelt thank you to all my California friends who have encouraged me to reach this point, both as an artist and as a man.
Thanks for looking at birds with me again. Lots more to come.

Thank you,

Farnco

Owls of the World: Spotted Eagle Owl

Bubo africanus.

We made it back to Africa. I’m going to be spending more time on African raptors in the coming months.
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The spotted eagle owl is found across the southern regions of Africa.
It’s the smallest species of eagle owl, but by no means a small bird. With a height of up to 18-20 inches and a wing span of 30 inches.
It prefers a diet of mice, frogs, insects, and small birds.  Hunting primarily at night but occasionally at dusk. Habitats include open and scattered woodland. They mate for life and lay 2-4 eggs at a time. Nesting on rocky outcrops or cliff sides. Spending daytime in trees close to the trunk, doing their best to blend in and not be disturbed by diurnal birds.
seo-map
Thanks for looking at birds with me again. Before I get going on all those cool African raptors, we’re heading far north to look at a bird I’m really excited about painting.
Grab your coat, it’s gonna be snowy….

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.

Falcons of the World: Sooty Falcon

Sooty Falcon, Falco concolor.

This medium sized falcon is found from Northeastern Africa to the Southern Persian Gulf.
It belongs to the Hobby group, sometimes considered a subgenus, Hypotriorchis.
Which is a small group of similar falcons. The Sooty falcon is often confused with the Eleonora’s Falcon. Both are similar in color but vary in build. The Sooty falcon has a shorter tail and is suited to high speed pursuits.
It eats primarily migrating birds. Striking them to the ground and severing the spinal cord with a bite to the back of the head. Sooty Falcons will also take dragon flies, grabbing them with their talons then passing them to their beak, eating on the wing.
They nest on rocky ledges in scattered areas of the Libyan desert and adjacent parts of Egypt. Laying up to four eggs. Long distance migrators, they winter in Eastern Africa as far south as Madagascar.
sooty falcon range map
I really enjoyed this painting. It was a refreshing new challenge. Working with whites and yellows. Learning about shadows and finding their colors.
This painting was another good one for learning what I need to tackle the Snowy Owl.
A challenge I have been putting off until I can see it in my head right. This falcon helped me find that. But before we go that far North, I’m jumping over the Atlantic to look at the Orange-Breasted Falcon in Central and South America.
Thanks a bunch 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.
me
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.