A studio for bird study

Tag: american

Male American Kestrel for Conservation

by Bryce W. Robinson

Male American Kestrel- Falco sparverius. 11X17" Prismacolor on bristol.

Male American Kestrel- Falco sparverius. 11X17″ Prismacolor on bristol. Copyright Bryce W. Robinson

I illustrated this male American Kestrel for a silent auction to benefit my local National Audubon Society Chapter, Golden Eagle Audubon here in Boise, Idaho. Let’s hope this illustration gleans some monetary attention.


The Christmas Bird 2013: American Tree Sparrow- Spizella arborea

by Bryce W. Robinson


Every year I illustrate a bird for the holiday season. This year, I’m a bit early, but only because I wanted to open the Christmas Bird for purchase as a print. You can visit the ornithologiart store, and purchase a print. Available are 4×6″ for $8.00, 5×7″ for $12.00, and 5×7″ matted for $15.00. Click the photo to purchase, or simply follow the link: ornithologiart.

The American Tree Sparrow is a breeder of the high north Taiga lands. It migrates to the lower parts of North America during winter, and is a favorite feeder bird of many. I chose the American Tree Sparrow because I feel it captures the spirit of the season, and is emblematic of the winter solstice. This is a great holiday gift for any birder.

From both Caitlin and I, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or Happy Solstice. However you choose to celebrate the season, we hope you have a great time with family, friends, and of course, birds.

An Insight into an Interaction- The Red-tailed Hawk and American Badger

by Bryce W. Robinson


While out conducting Golden Eagle surveys in the west desert, I stumble upon many interesting and peculiar things. Car carcasses are among my favorite, but often I come upon the fauna of the land, and stand privy to their every day lives.

This past week I stopped to look at a distant Red-tailed Hawk sitting atop a greasewood, only a few feet from the ground. This behavior is a bit peculiar for this Buteo. I see many Rough-legged Hawks sitting on bushes in the deserts, but in my experience, Red-tailed Hawks tend to prefer the power poles and rock ledges. The bird sitting low caught my eye, so I investigated.

I am so happy I took the time to look. What I observed is illustrated in the above video. Again, I apologize for the quality. It is the best I could put together with my mediocre digiscoping skills. Still, I was able to capture the scene.

An American Badger- Taxidea taxus, was milling about to the left of the perched bird.  To see a badger is a treat itself, but this experience was even more special. It seemed the hawk was paying a great deal of attention to the badger. Along with the hawk and badger, a raven sat on a pole just to the right of the hawk, scolding the scene. As you can see in the video, the badger seems to be digging, and moving something about. I can only postulate what the three creatures were up to.

I think that the hawk had some success in procuring a meal for itself, only to find its prey victim to some interspecific klepto-parasitism. That is, to say, the hawk was robbed of its kill by the badger. That would have been incredible to catch, but one is only so lucky. I believe the interaction in the video is simply a Red-tailed Hawk watching a badger burry its stolen prey. The presence of the raven adds some confidence to my diagnostic.

Experiences such as this are why field work is such an adventure. I hope this upcoming week brings more adventure, as I travel the desert in search of winged wonders.

Pen and Ink Sketching

by Bryce W. Robinson

American Kestrel- Falco sparverius. Pen and ink on paper

When I am not counting them, I am drawing them. I sat in my hotel room this morning, pondering how I might make use of my day. Of course my only day off of the mountain for the week is important for household chores such as a shower and laundry, but I always find pressure to stay away from the television and do something constructive. Sketching in my journal seemed like perfect way to pass the time. After all, I need to work on refining my skills. With the most appropriate music, I sat and sketched the day away. It was both relaxing and fruitful.

Light morph Red-tailed Hawk- Buteo jamaicensis. Pen and ink on paper

My journal is 8×5.5″, so it is very difficult to fit a flying hawk onto a page. I also used the smallest pen I have at the moment, an 01 which is not my preferred pen. I normally use 005, especially when illustrating a smaller bird. I still feel that my pen drawings are a bit unrefined. More effort and practice may produce more desirable birds. Still, I find myself staring at this flying Red-tailed Hawk with a smile on my face. I am trying to make the bird stand out with all of the particular field marks that make it appear true to the winged wanderer that I see nearly every day.

Dark morph Immature Red-tailed Hawk- Buteo Jamaicensis. Pen and ink on paper.

I love topside views of soaring hawks. This is possible my favorite thing about observing the fall migration on a ridge top. Only the most special of places leave you with a view of a soaring raptor below. I am always giddy when I come away with a good photo of a bird below my eye level, and illustrating the birds as such provides something similar to that feeling.

Golden Eagle- Aquila chrysaetos. Pen and ink on paper

I had to sketch a Golden Eagle today. We have caught three this season, each bird as special as the last. I cannot describe the feeling of beholding these large winged predators. They are as beautiful and fierce as any big cat, bear, or predator alike. They are powerful, intelligent, and proud. The spirit of these birds interacting with my own caused such an emotional clash, that I could not help myself from shedding a tear. This emotion I will forever remember, and work to pour into every piece put forth that highlighs the majesty of the Golden eagle.