Ornithologi

A studio for bird study

An Illustration of Some Members of the Genus Buteo

by Bryce W. Robinson

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18×24″ Gouache on watercolor paper. From top left: Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus), Swainson’s Hawk (Buteo swainsoni), Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus), Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus), and Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis). Purchase limited edition prints here.

I’ve been illustrating raptors in flight for some years now, which really took off when I met Jerry Liguori. Jerry took me under his wing, so to speak, and filled my head with everything he himself has learned over his many years studying the identification of raptors, particularly in flight. His tutelage accelerated my skills and knowledge in raptor identification, and I can confidently say that without his selfless teaching, my illustrations wouldn’t be the same.

I’m currently focused on tuning in my raptors in flight. I am about to start some large illustration projects focused on these taxa, so I am working to develop my technique and process as well perfecting relative shape and sizes. It’s a challenge, because illustrating each correctly involves so much more than the obvious differences in plumage. What makes each unique are shape, proportion, and posture. I’ve found posture to be the most challenging aspect to capture, since this seemingly simple factor has so much power over whether the bird looks real or not. Furthermore, in flight postures and shapes are influenced by the direction and motion of a bird in that moment in time. For instance, a bird soaring has a unique shape but because of the position of the viewer, that shape may be different for each wing because of the birds posture and how wind or resistance bends the outer primaries. To understand and master this effect is going to take repeated sketching and exploration.

Purchase an 18×24″ limited edition archival print (30 available) of this illustration in the shop. Your support helps me continue to refine my illustration, so thank you ahead of time! Also, be sure to add Jerry Liguori’s unique guidebooks to your library. Jerry has taken raptor identification to the next level, and his guidebooks are a wealth of information for mastering in-flight identification. You can find his books here: Jerry Liguori’s Hawk’s From Every Angle and Hawks at a Distance

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Light Morph Ferruginous Hawk Plate

by Bryce W. Robinson

 

In my continued practice at illustration and the design of guide book style plates, I took the opportunity of expanding a needed Ferruginous Hawk illustration into a full plate. I focused on a goal to illustrate light morph adult and juveniles perched and in flight, both topside and underside. I’m currently emulating the traditional plate styles you see in contemporary guides, but as I’ve been illustrating I’ve had some ideas that I may try going forward as I attempt to tune in my illustrations.

For polymorphic species such as the Ferruginous Hawk, illustrating the entire spectrum of plumage types is entirely unreasonable if not impossible. Still, I think there are some plumage types that may deserve attention, apart from the classic rusty bodied birds and dark morphs. I’ve seen some interesting individuals, such as dark birds with white streaking on the breast that is reminiscent of dark morph Harlan’s Red-tailed Hawk. I think including these in an informative plate will communicate two things, one being of course some of the stranger possible plumage types but perhaps more importantly the pitfalls of focusing solely on plumage characteristics for identification.

I’ve produced prints of this illustration for purchase, but I’ve limited them to 25. You can find and purchase a print in the shop by clicking here.

 

Illustration of the Vultures of Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique

by Bryce W. Robinson

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Vultures of Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique, including the White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus), White-headed Vulture (Trigonoceps occidentalis), Lappet-faced Vulture (Torgos tracheliotos), Hooded Vulture (Nechrosyrtes monachus), and Palm-nut Vulture (Gypohierax angolensis).  16×20″ gouache on watercolor board. Image copyright Bryce W. Robinson.

My friend Teague Scott, a master’s student at Boise State University, researches the movement ecology of old world vultures, namely the White-headed Vulture and White-backed Vulture. Teague conducts his work in Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique, a place with a tortured history as it was devastated by civil war to the point that little large animals remained.

In 2004, Greg Carr, an Idaho based philanthropist, took it upon himself to revitalize the park. What he undertook was a massive collaborative effort aimed at rewilding Gorongosa, involving the local people thus instilling a land ethic and raising their quality of life through employment. Among many academic institutions, he also involved Boise State University and the Intermountain Bird Observatory to provide the opportunity for graduate students to conduct research in the park.

What this effort has become is a resounding success. To find out more about Gorongosa, visit the parks website. Here you will find information on the history of the park, the projects that the park supports, as well as information on opportunities to visit. Be sure to also take the opportunity to watch the numerous videos that provide a glimpse at the natural wonders of Africa.

If you have a love for vultures, and you would like a print of this image then you can purchase one in the shop.

Illustrations for a New Book on the Natural History of the Cooper’s Hawk by Robert N. Rosenfield

by Bryce W. Robinson

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I had the extreme privilege of contributing to Robert Rosenfield’s new book on the natural history of the Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii). I illustrated the birds for the cover, as well as a figure in the book that describes the bowing courtship display.

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Male Cooper’s Hawk Bowing display – Illustration for Robert N. Rosenfield’s new book on the natural history of the Cooper’s Hawk. 

I wasn’t able to find photos for reference to illustrate the bowing behavior, so I used Robert’s descriptions of the behavior, other illustrations such as that found in the BNA account, and a specimen that I prepared myself (housed at Boise State University’s Museum of Vertebrate Zoology). It was the first time I’ve relied largely on a specimen for an illustration, which turned out to be a very satisfying exercise that I hope to continue into the future of my work as an illustrator. 

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This book is now available for prepurchase on Hancock House Publishers website. If you are a birder, naturalist, biologist, or simply bio-curious, then this book is certainly a must-have for your library, so make sure to get your copy now!