A studio for bird study

Tag: golden

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.



Illustrating Birds

by Bryce W. Robinson



I love the process of illustration nearly as much as I love watching birds. Nothing calms my mind more than putting on some music, drinking a full bottle of wine, and losing myself in the exercise of illustrating an avian subject. I will draw until the day I die.

The Next Adventure- Eagle Surveys in the West Desert of Utah

by Bryce W. Robinson

After a weeks respite, I have returned to field work. Now that the migration season is over, my work has refocused to wintering Golden Eagles in the west desert of Utah. I am charged with cataloging the presence of eagles across the vast landscapes. This task is quite heavy, as I travel alone throughout the vast lands alone, with only my own eyes to spot the birds. Luckily, these birds are large and dark. Thus far, they have not been too difficult to discern from the landscape. I have picked out a few birds perched high on rock faces.

In only two days of surveying, I have already found more than a dozen eagles. I have been blessed with a few close encounters, one of which was an eagle perched atop a decaying tree trunk, deep in the no-mans-land. Basking in the evening sun, the large eagle sat in seeming comfort. The bird was, no doubt, enjoying the warmth of the setting sun, as was I. Of course my camera was ready to capture the encounter. I came away with a few photos that I enjoy immensely.

Upon discovering this beautiful golden bird, I was taken aback by the overall impression the bird gave at a distance. Golden Eagles are unmistakable. They are long bodied creatures, and look very unlike the stocky appearance of a perched Buteo. Still, what I noticed was the shape of the head of this bird. Usually, the eagle looks sleek. This bird was fluffed and ruffled, likely warming itself. The feathers on the head of the eagle were raised, which gave an impression of a round headed bird much like that of a Red-tailed Hawk. The beak of the bird looked small and delicate. Indeed, the image I saw was endearing, and was far from the usual fierce demeanor that eagles often portray.

I included the following video of another eagle I found perched on a rocky hillside. This video adequately illustrates my experience, as I watched the bird from afar, through my scope. Using my camera phone, I digiscoped the bird. I am pleased that the bird does not simply sit motionless, but is often glancing about, surveying its surroundings.

The video is not the best in quality. I do like the aesthetic though. I wanted to illustrate how it might look through the lens of the scope. I have been taking some video with my telephoto lens, and will surely share when they are ready.

I have found a wide variety of birds while I have been traveling the west desert. Buteos abound in the agricultural areas, and I have been blessed by finding the best of the birds. I can’t believe the number of Rough-legged Hawks that I have stumbled upon. I find more than twice the number of B. lagopus than B. jamaicensis, which is surprising. I cannot wait to share my discoveries, birds and beyond. The desert is home to unique structures, abandoned vehicles, and any number of remnants from humanity’s past in the place. Juxtaposed against the otherwise human-less landscape, the decaying history presents a dramatic scene of which I love.

Next week brings the second leg of my adventures. I am anxious and excited to hit the road again, in search of N. America’s Aquila, and whatever else may come.

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.