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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.

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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: Japanese Sparrow-Hawk

Accipiter gularis, or Japanese Sparrow-hawk is a medium size accipiter. Like many Accipiters, females of this species are larger than males.  These fast flying hunters can be found in coniferous and deciduous forests of Eastern Asia. Breeding in China, Japan, Korea, and Siberia. Winters in Indonesia and Philippines.

Accipiter gularis feeds on birds as large as magpie, also takes bats, rodents, and reptiles. Nests are made close to tree trunks and made of sticks and leaves. Laying 2-5 eggs per clutch.

accipiter gularis process

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

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).

 

ornate1TEXT

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: African Goshawk

African Goshawk

Accipiter tachiro

This medium sized accipiter can be found gliding over its densely forested habitat. They primarily still hunt for their variety of prey that includes: reptiles, insects, mice, birds, and bats.

They nest in dense foliage building nests of sticks but also known for taking over nests of other birds.

range map

paired with NOTEXT

This was a fun 11×14 panel to work on. I’m currently working on a larger 18×24 panel of a large South American raptor. Thanks for looking at birds with me.

Hawks of the World: Shikra

Accipiter badius.

The Shikra or Small-Banded Goshawk. Can be found perched in the open where it still-hunts for bats, small birds, reptiles, and insects. It being a smaller accipiter larger birds and mammals are off the menu. It usually takes prey on the ground or plucks it from tree trunks or foliage.

Preferring a wooded or partially wooded habitat, Shikra nest in trees and build a nest similar to that of crows, lined with grass. The average clutch size is 3-4 eggs.

Their range is quite extensive. Covering parts of Africa, India, and Southeast Asia.

accipiter range map

I really enjoy illustrating accipiters. This one was no exception. Thanks for looking at birds with me.

shikra process

Sources:

  • Kemp, A., Kemp, M. and Hayman, P. (1998). Sasol birds of prey of Africa and its islands. London: New Holland.
  • Ferguson-Lees, James, et al. Raptors of the World. Princeton University Press, 2005.

Raptors of the World: Harris’s Hawk

Parabuteo unicinctus.

Found in semi-open desert regions. Often among mesquite, saguaro, and organ pipe cactus. This fascinating raptor is one of the few social predators in the animal kingdom. They hunt in groups, from two to six for rabbits, squirrels, and birds. Utilizing strategic methods of flushing and ambushing prey. They also work as a group to defend large carrion from coyotes and other predators.

Not only do they hunt in groups, but they also nest in groups. As many as three adults feeding one nest. Nests are built high in mesquite trees, on man made structures or cliff sides. Laying 1-5 eggs per clutch.

Hariss hawk map

Harris 1 finalTEXT

harris progression

Raptors of the World: Harpy Eagle (again)

This apex predator is a rare sight in the rainforests of South and Central America. They hunt mostly large mammals such as monkeys and sloths. They also take large birds, lizards, and snakes. They hunt from a perch then attack from a stoop. Striking their prey with talons as large as grizzly bear claws. Arguably one of the strongest eagles at least in its range. Distinguishable by its two crests on each side of its head. Both sexes are alike in plumage but like many other raptors, females are larger.

They build large stick nests as high in the canopy as possible. The average clutch is two eggs. Young Harpy Eagles are dependent on their parents for over a year after hatching so most pairs mate biyearly.

harpy again222

both

We took our first look at harpy eagles here back in September of 2017. Since then I’ve finished up a few more illustrations and readings and decided it’d be fun to make another large harpy eagle painting. So thanks for taking another look at this apex predator of the Central and South American rainforests with me!

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.