wildlife

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

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.

Falcons of the World: New Zealand Falcon

Falco novaeseelandiae

A powerful falcon endemic to New Zealand. They vary slightly in size, birds found in grasslands are larger than those found in forested areas. Also like many falcons females are larger than males.

They hunt birds and small mammals from a perch or from circular flight paths. Dropping on unsuspecting prey from above. Hitting prey with outstretched talons then severing the spinal column with a bite to the back of the head with their serrated bill. An effective hunter to say the least.

Aggressive hunters and defenders of their nests. Reports of falcons attacking humans who ventured too close to nesting areas are common. Much like goshawks in the northeast United States.

Nests are made in a variety of places. From on the ground in bushes all the way up high on cliffs or ledges from 20 to 100 feet. 2-4 eggs are laid at a time from September to December.

And if you’re keeping score at home, we’ve already looked at this bird about a year and a half ago. I wanted to go back and make some revisions. Having researched the bird more there were too many inaccuracies and I always love a chance to paint another unique falcon like Falco novaeseelandiae again. Thanks again for looking at birds with me.

 NZ redo strip

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!

Raptors of Africa: Bateleur Eagle

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.

bateleur profile rundoown

Owls of the World: Ural Owl

Strix uralensis

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.

4 Ural Owl final TEXT