A studio for bird study

Tag: artwork

Harpy Eagle Painting for the Journal of Raptor Research

by Bryce W. Robinson

FullSizeRenderI’m honored and thankful for the opportunity to have painted the cover art for issue 1 of the 50th anniversary of the RRF’s Journal of Raptor Research. The issue features an article from The Peregrine Fund’s Harpy Eagle work, along with an article detailing a friend’s master’s work on Burrowing Owls, an excellent article on Gyrfalcon movement’s, and a lot more. I’m so happy for the opportunity to add to an organization that does such incredible work and carries the tradition of raptor studies forward.

For more information or to access the articles, visit the Journal of Raptor Research website.

California Gnatcatcher – Polioptila californica

by Bryce W. Robinson

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This month I found myself fortunate to have the opportunity of illustrating a “Coastal” California Gnatcatcher (Polioptila californica californica). I was asked to do an illustration for Sea and Sage Audubon in southern California, and I decided to illustrate the California Gnatcatcher because it is perhaps the most pressing avian conservation issue facing southern California.

A few decades of rapid urban development in southern California’s coastal sage scrub habitat has left California Gnatcatcher’s with shrinking suitable habitat and a fragmented range. These pressures have taken their toll on the United State’s only California Gnatcatcher populations, to a point that in 1993 the gnatcatcher received threatened status.

Today it seems that the California Gnatcatcher’s presence and future in the coastal sage scrub is that of small fragmented populations. In essence, the damage has been done, and efforts now focus on preserving what quality habitat is left and ensuring that the small populations remain.

My choice to illustrate this bird was founded on 1. maintaining awareness for the plight of this incredible bird, 2. supporting a feeling of identity for those that live in the area and invoking the California Gnatcatcher as an important part of that identity, and 3. a reminder that these birds act as a symbol for the broad impacts human development has to the ecosystem, a symbol that goes well beyond single species conservation.

For more information on the history of the conservation effort for this species, and to stay updated on current action visit:

The USFWS’s Environmental Conservation Online System page for the Coastal California Gnatcatcher.

 

Western Grebe with Young

by Bryce W. Robinson

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Western Grebe (Aechmophorous occidentalis) with young. 11 x 15″ Gouache painting. Copyright Bryce W. Robinson

I really enjoy the strange behaviors found in the bird world. The Western Grebe (Aechmophorous occidentalis) is then naturally a favorite, due to a few behaviors that are on the surface quite strange.

The first is the rushing, or the synchronous courtship dance where a pair runs in contorted posture across the water. I’ve never painted, photographed, or filmed this behavior but I hope to this coming spring.

The second is the behavior pictured above. Young grebes ride on their parents back, situated between the wings. The parent dives for fish with young in tow, then surfaces with a catch and feeds it to the young.

The third is perhaps the strangest of the behaviors. Grebes eat their own feathers, and parents feed their feathers to their young. There are many hypotheses of what they may do this, but perhaps the most plausible is to line their stomachs. Grebes of course eat fish, yet their gizzards may not fully crush the bone. To protect the soft tissue of their proventriculus and perhaps parts of the intestines, grebes then eat a large amount of feathers that line their insides.

Rather incredible….

Swallow-tailed Kite Movements

by Bryce W. Robinson

Swallow-Tailed Kite - Elanoides forficatus. 11 x 17

Swallow-Tailed Kite – Elanoides forficatus. 11 x 17″ prismacolor on bristol.

I illustrated this Swallow-tailed Kite for my friend Russ. He found Arizona’s first state record back in 2012, so understandably the Swallow-tailed is a special bird to him. You can see the accepted record here:

http://abc.azfo.org/ABCVote/_ABCReports_Public_View_list.aspx

It would be so exciting to see an unexpected X soaring high above the desert. Lately, Swallow-tailed Kites have been showing up in some odd places. For whatever reason a few birds have strayed farther north than their normal range. In this past weeks Rare Bird Alert on the ABA Blog, four separate sightings of the species were made in three different states: Illinois, Indiana, and Kansas. Sometimes birds make strange movements in great distances. You never know, you might be at a hawk watch this fall somewhere in the west and see a large X soaring in the sky. Better start scanning…