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.
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!
Going back to African raptors. Here’s one of my favorites, Terathopius ecaudatus. Or Bateleur Eagle. One of the more colorful species of snake eagles.
Despite their short tails they are quite capable of impressive aerial maneuvers while chasing prey. Found south of the Sahara desert in open areas with brush. They may cover as much as 200 miles a day searching for food. Riding thermals for up to 9 hours at a time. Their diet consists largely of snakes, lizards, rabbits, birds, antelope, and most of all roadkill and carrion.
This is a fun bird to paint, thanks for looking at birds with me.
The Ural Owl is found across Northern Europe and Northern Asia. And as far east as Japan. Preferring remote old growth forest. They hunt primarily voles but substitute with other small mammals, insects, and birds when vole populations are low. Hunting from perches relying on their incredible hearing, silent wings, and razor sharp talons.
Ural Owls lay up to six eggs per clutch. Nesting in dead trees or even an abandoned Goshawk nest. They are very defensive of their nests, chasing away anything that approaches the entrance. Unless it’s a returning Goshawk in which case they would be in trouble.
…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.
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.
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.
We made it back to Africa. I’m going to be spending more time on African raptors in the coming months.
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.
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….
The New Zealand Falcon.
This bird is found across the main north and south islands. However absent from the North Auckland peninsula. The New Zealand falcon shares its environment with only one other diurnal raptor, the Australasian Harrier (Circus approximans). Therefor the falcon has more ecological range. And is more of a generalized raptor in many respects.
Its feather coloration is well suited for the forest environment.
They are typically very defensive of their hunting and nesting areas.
These falcons hunt smaller birds primarily, often hunting from a perch or on the wing. While they’re not as fast as their cousins the Peregrine Falcon, they still don’t waste any time in the air. Moving at terrific speeds with fighter jet-like maneuvers.
Until the last couple months most every bird I painted was native to North America. Due largely to my fondness of them. But as my goal moves towards wildlife preservation and awareness I have broadened my scope. I don’t want to just protect the birds of North America, I want to protect all of them. Birds don’t observe our borders, neither does art.
At the least, all this does is guarantee that I’m not going to run out of birds to paint. At the best, I can share the wonders of the planet with you as they come across my drawing desk. Wherever that desk goes. Thanks for hearing me out and checking out these Falcons with me.
A Red-tailed Hawk I came upon at work. Quite generous to hold still for me to play bird paparazzi.
It stayed in my thoughts on the bus ride home and when I got home I tried to put these thoughts to page.
I should mention I’m enjoying these softer pencils. Starting with B and getting into 8B in the end. Fun to smudge around and really work with. Until recently I’ve only ever used Bic mechanical pencils. Nothing wrong with them, but I’m feeling better results with these now.
I went out for another adventure on two wheels this week. 23.6 miles of highway, gravel roads, and dirt/rock single track. Pedaling down the railroad tracks on my way home I met this great bird. Watching me with suspicion as I fumbled about for my camera.
I imagined a conversation between us as I tried to get a worthwhile shot with an ill-suited camera.
“You’re not from California are you?”
“No I would reply, adding, I’m from Illinois, and I’d take a picture or three of an Illinois Hawk to so, that’s not a fair point”.
The Hawk flew away after I had snapped a few pictures and wasted the moment thinking about talking birds on telephone wires….again.