Ornithologi

A studio for bird study

Tag: falco

Gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus) Painting

by Bryce W. Robinson

_MG_9407

Gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus). 11 x 17″ Gouache on paper.

Over the past three years my study has revolved around the Gyrfalcon, as I’ve pursued my Master’s of Raptor Biology degree at Boise State University. In May I completed my degree and finished my thesis. At the moment, I’m doing field work in Alaska with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on a few different bird projects across the state, but I’m also working on getting my Gyrfalcon work published. As my work gets published (hopefully) I’ll be sure to share links and a brief description of what each paper details.

While in school I did my best to be actively illustrating and painting birdlife. I’ve painted a number of different species over the past three years, but I’m left with the feeling that I did not paint my subject species enough. I suppose this feeling indicates that I’ll need to regularly return to painting the Gyrfalcon. I’d like to illustrate some of the concepts detailed in my research, but for now I decided to paint a simple head shot of the Gyrfalcon as a cessation of my “structured” work on the species. Now the page turns to a new chapter, the subject of which is unknown to me but I get the feeling it may be quite broad.

Advertisements

Notes on Gyrfalcon Molt

by Bryce W. Robinson

Adult Male Gyrfalcon - Falco rusticolus

Photo 1. Adult Male Gyrfalcon – Falco rusticolus

I like to pay attention to molt in birds. There are many aspects of a birds life history that can be reflected by their strategy for feather replacement. A great example is something I’ve been watching with the nesting Gyrfalcons I’ve been working with lately.

Last summer, I noticed something about the molt between male and female Gyrfalcons. While I was entering nests to install cameras in the early nesting period (mostly during incubation), I noticed that males were behind females in their molt progression. Following my initial observation, I started paying closer attention to each bird. I continue to take notes on this, and wanted to share the molt of a pair from a nest I visited recently.

Adult Female Gyrfalcon - Falco rusticolus

Photo 2. Adult Female Gyrfalcon – Falco rusticolus

You can see that the male (photo 1) has just dropped his fifth primary. Falcons generally begin their primary molt at P 4&5 and progress in two directions. The female (photo 2) has dropped her third, fourth, fifth, and sixth primaries. You can see P 4&5 are growing in already.

This illustrates a few simple things in the life of a Gyrfalcon. One, that energetics govern the ability to molt. Two, that male and female Gyrfalcons have different energetic roles and energy budgets during incubation and early brood rearing. They have different roles in the process. These are illustrated by the fact that they differ in the progression of their molt.

Later, the rates even out as both adults need to provision for their growing brood. I hope to get photos of this pair on my next visit to the nest in a few weeks.

Support Gyrfalcon Conservation Efforts of The Peregrine Fund Through Year End Donations, or By Purchasing Artwork

by Bryce W. Robinson

Click image to purchase

Click image to purchase **PRINT ONLY** *Original available

The Gyrfalcon, the Polar Bear of the bird world, is truly an iconic symbol of the frozen north.

It is undeniable, the earth is undergoing rapid change. To properly predict and prepare for the impacts this change will have on the Gyrfalcon, The Peregrine Fund has started a program to study particular aspects of Gyrfalcon biology, and form a conservation program.

I am part of The Peregrine Fund team, charged with developing a long term project to monitor Gyrfalcon populations, and conduct necessary research that will inform conservation biologists, to ensure the future of this powerful bird.

Please consider contributing to the efforts of The Peregrine Fund for a year end donation, and be part of a conservation effort aimed at ensuring the future of the Polar Bear of the birds, the Gyrfalcon. Doing so will not only help in the effort to understand and ensure the future of an arctic animal, but will inevitably help in understanding climate change and its real time implications on the earth as a whole, and in turn, on ourselves.

You can become part of this effort by visiting The Peregrine Fund website, and clicking on the DONATE NOW button on the top right of the page. The Peregrine Fund is a registered non-profit 501-C3, so all donations are tax deductible. In the comments section of the donation form, please specify that you wish your gift to contribute to the Gyrfalcon Project.

In an effort to diversify my funding sources, I have started THE GYRFALCON PROJECT, here on ORNITHOLOGI.COM. I will illustrate and paint, to capture the Gyrfalcon in its emblematic form. All illustrations will be featured on the blog and will be available as originals, along with prints. 50% of proceeds from all sales will be donated to The Peregrine Fund to support the Gyrfalcon Project.

Your action will help, no matter how small, in empowering the research and understanding of our rapidly changing world.

If you are interested in commissioning an original of any medium, please contact me at ofbirdsandbATgmail.com.

Prairie Falcon- Falco mexicanus

by Bryce W. Robinson

Prairie Falcon- Falco mexicanus. 18x24" prismacolor on bristol

Prairie Falcon- Falco mexicanus. 18×24″ prismacolor on bristol

Of all the raptors I illustrate, it seems falcons give me the most trouble. I’m not entirely sure why, but the fact that I struggle with the family is a bit disheartening, as it is likely to be a group I spend a considerable amount of time studying for the rest of my life. Perhaps with time, I’ll work out the bugs in my inability to adequately illustrate the birds.

Falco mexicanus is a significant illustration for me. I’ve conducted a great deal of field work in the west, primarily in the flats of the great basin, and I’ve had many experiences with the sandy brown assassin. Get yourself lost on lonely dirt roads of the remote great basin in midst of winter, and you will undoubtedly come upon a Prairie Falcon perched on some high point, surveying for prey.

I remember last year, I was searching for eagles on the edge of the salt flats of north western Utah. I had pulled over to glass a mountain top, and found myself watching a perched Golden Eagle, some two kilometers away by my estimate. While I watched the bird, I notice a fast approaching figure headed straight for the large raptor. The figure was in fact the Prairie Falcon, come to conduct its business of bullying the large eagle. The tenacious bastard kept at it for nearly five minutes, until finally the eagle had enough of the dodging, and fled from the persistent falcon pest.

My success with illustrating this bird is fortunate, and gives me the courage to start a project that will be focused on gleaning some much needed extra funding for my work with the worlds largest falcon this summer. Stay tuned as this idea develops and materializes.