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

North America’s Zonotrichia in Winter: A Plate of Basic and Immature Plumages

by Bryce W. Robinson

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North America’s Zonotrichia: Basic and Immature Plumages. 18×24″ Gouache on paper. From the top: White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys gambelii; Adult (L) and immature (R)), Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla; Adult (L) and immature (R)), White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis; Adult (L) and immature (R)), and Harris’s Sparrow (Zonotrichia querula; Adult (L) and immature (R)).

I’m privileged to be teaching a better birding workshop at the end of the month focused on Idaho’s winter sparrow guild. The workshop is supported as a collaborative effort between Golden Eagle Audubon Society and Southwestern Idaho Birders Association (SIBA). I’ll be leading a 1.5 hour lecture that will present tips for increasing ones birding skills, as well as an in depth identification breakdown of Idaho’s winter sparrow guild (with Calcariidae added by request). We’ll also be taking these skills to the field for some applied learning. I’m excited, as it is the first birding centric workshop I’ve taught, so I’m sure to learn as much as I disseminate.

I have decided to attempt to illustrate all taxa that I will be discussing in the workshop. This is a bit daunting of a task to accomplish in only a few weeks, but I think I can do it! I just completed the Zonotrichia plate, which is shown above. I’ll share the rest as I complete them.

I learned a lot from this plate about the process of illustration. I’m feeling unsettled by the product, because I can’t seem to get past the messiness and untidy nature of my illustration. In the next few, I’ll focus on being more particular and using a lower water to paint ratio. I need to attempt to utilize the gouache not as watercolor but as a layering medium.

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An Illustration of a Few of the Larger Eagles (Family: Accipitridae)

by Bryce W. Robinson

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Eagles – 18×24″ gouache on paper. From top left: Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja), Crowned Hawk-Eagle (Stephanoaetus coronatus), Bateleur (Terathopius ecaudatus), Martial Eagle (Polemaetus bellicosus), Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), Steller’s Sea-Eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus), Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), and Verreaux’s Eagle (Aquila verreauxii).

I appreciate commissions because they provide the opportunity to paint something that I likely wouldn’t otherwise. The above painting of eagle heads is a great example. I have always enjoyed illustrating raptor heads floating alone, but I’ve never tried painting multiple on one canvas. My friend Mike Lanzone reached out to me to make a request for an eagle painting, so I was pushed to put together the concept and paint multiple birds in one place. It was a challenge for sure, but quite rewarding in the end.

Mike wanted the painting to gift to his wife Tricia Miller. Mike and Tricia are excellent biologists that work with many of the species in the painting. Mike is the CEO of Cellular Tracking Technologies, an awesome company that outfits wildlife researchers with the technology necessary to study movement ecology. Tricia is the Executive Director at Conservation Science Global Inc. Needless to say, they’re quite the power couple and I really look up to them. Among many great research projects, they are integral in Project Snowstorm, a research project aimed at understanding irruption and interannual movements of Snowy Owls. I’m honored to provide them with an illustration for their home that will help capture and celebrate the great work that they do.

If you like this image, you can buy prints here:

http://ornithologi.bigcartel.com/product/11×14-limited-giclee-print-eagles

 

Prairie Falcon Painting – In Flight

by Bryce W. Robinson

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Prairie Falcon (Falco mexicanus) in flight. 12×16″ Gouache on watercolor board.

 

Gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus) Plate

by Bryce W. Robinson

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My friend Kenneth, a Gyrfalcon researcher in Norway, is perhaps the most enthusiastically obsessed Gyrfalcon lover I know. I really appreciate his passion for the bird. Next week he is traveling to Salt Lake City for the Raptor Research Foundation’s annual conference. He asked me to paint a Gyrfalcon portrait for him, so I decided to take the opportunity to illustrate some perched birds to populate the plate I’ve been putting together. I going to produce some giclee prints of this plate, but I’m limiting it to 20 prints. If you like this image, and would like to purchase a print, it is available in the shop!

It’s taken me some time to paint birds that I’m pleased with enough to put into plate form. I’m still a bit at odds with these birds, but I think the above image best fits what I’m going for in creating the plate. My next step will be to paint some different postures and explore which best fills the gap in understanding the different positions and appearances that a Gyrfalcon may take on, in varying conditions. Additionally, the plate needs multiple different in flight postures, and some other age and plumage morph descriptions. Progress has been made either way, and I’m excited!

Below is the painting that I did for Kenneth, as it will look to him. I’ll be traveling to Salt Lake City myself, with this painting alongside me. Thanks for the opportunity Kenneth!

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