The creative study of birds through illustration, photography, and writing

Charadrius Plate

by Bryce W. Robinson

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My friend Dan asked me to paint a shorebird plate for an auction at a conference that he will be attending in Peru in November. I chose to highlight the genus Charadrius for the plate, choosing five species from the new world. From the top, I’ve illustrated the Collared Plover (Charadrius collaris), Puna Plover (C. alticola), Snowy Plover (C. nivosus), Semipalmated Plover (C. semipalmatus), and Wilson’s Plover (C. wilsonia).

I learned a great deal from this painting. I am seeing a bit of growth in my painting over the past year, and this piece in particular represents a move forward. I’ll be painting many more plates that highlight species or subspecies groups.

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Published in Western Birds: First Record of Breeding Eurasian Barn Swallows (ssp. gutturalis) in North America

by Bryce W. Robinson

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My friend Luke DeCicco and I published a paper in the Western Field Ornithologists journal Western Birds that details an observation I made during my last hours of the 2016 field season in Nome, Alaska. I happened upon four recently fledged Barn Swallows being provisioned by two adults, that were obviously white-bellied Eurasian birds. I couldn’t spend much time with them due to my departing flight, but I did my best to document everything in haste. The flight back to Anchorage was fun, as I sat there with my mind buzzing thinking of how to report this observation in the literature.

I asked my friend Luke be on the manuscript for a few reasons. First, Luke had identified a white-bellied bird in the same location (Nome DOT utility yard) a few days prior while we were loading our storage container. As such, I had my eyes open while traveling through the area when I spotted the birds being provisioned. Without his initial observation, I may have been effectively asleep at the wheel and may have missed the birds entirely. Birding was not the reason I was in the utility yard. Second, Luke has an impressive handle of the birdlife of Alaska, along with the connections necessary to expeditiously investigate the historical status of the species in the state, and to assess the potential that this record was indeed a first. In the end, he brought forward and engineered the aspect of the paper that is perhaps the most useful, an update on the status of Eurasian subspecies in AK, along with a summary of records of vagrant subspecies. The result is an article that will be very useful for folks in the future as they put their own observation into context. I feel really fortunate to have Luke’s contribution to this publication.

This publication represents a few firsts for me. Primarily it represents crossing a threshold in my career, as it is the first publication of mine where I have incorporated my passion for ornithological illustration. I painted a rendering of the differences between the subspecies discussed in text in the form of museum specimens. I’m very pleased with the figure, and I’m excited to continue to make illustration integral in my work.

The paper is worth a read for anyone interested in Alaska’s birdlife, and bird distributions in North America.

Click the image below and give it a read!

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Orange-breasted Falcon (Falco deiroleucus) Painting: A Mile Marker

by Bryce W. Robinson

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I feel really fortunate for the opportunity to illustrate and paint during the six months I’ve spent in Central America. My time here has really expanded my understanding of birdlife, and strengthened all of my skills with which I employ to communicate this understanding to others. I’ve been a bit more familiar with the Orange-breasted Falcon each time I’ve painted it, and on reflection I think it shows in each painting. This has taught me the value of studying structure, plumage, posture, effects of light, and personality in each species I illustrate. Being familiar with your subject (from field study) is integral to rendering it correctly, which means I’ll need to spend more time in the field looking at birds.

Just Published in Avian Conservation and Ecology: Nest Box Use During the Non-breeding Season

by Bryce W. Robinson

 

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Caitlin just published an excellent paper detailing nest box use in the non-breeding season in Idaho.

This publication is an important contribution because it discusses patterns in nest box use during a period that has received little attention. Additionally, because nest box programs are engineered to supplement natural cavities to saturate an area with nesting habitat geared to benefit species, a full understanding of its impacts throughout the yearly cycle is important. This paper not only reports how nest boxes are used in the non-breeding season, but illustrates some possible negative impacts as well. Such impacts are primarily associated with the variable thermodynamic nature of nest boxes relative to natural cavities, resulting in deaths at temperature extremes.

The paper also details some inter and intraspecific interactions in nest boxes, and patterns of use in other cavity roosting species such as the Northern Flicker and European Starling. With this discussion comes supplementary video of some such encounters, and excellent inclusion to add further context.

WATCH THE VIDEOS (CLICK HERE)

READ THE PAPER (CLICK HERE)