A studio for bird study

Tag: prairie

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.


Merlin- Falco columbarius

by Bryce W. Robinson

Merlin- Falco columbarius. 11x15" watercolor on paper

The Merlin is an extremely interesting falcon. Three distinct subspecies split the Merlin; the Taiga, the Black or Pacific, and  the Prairie. Each subspecies exhibits a particular plumage type, a fact that undoubtedly adds to my obsession with the bird. Most commonly seen is the Taiga. The males are a beautiful slate blue, with orange hues on the breast. The female is a paler version of the male, with brown tones replacing the blue, and lacking the orange hue. I have had many encounters with the Taiga this winter, and I am sure there will be more before the seasons end. I have also had a few opportunities this year to see the Prairie Merlin. The Prairie is a very pale version of the Taiga, easily distinguishable. The final subspecies is the Black Merlin. True to its name, the Black is a dark Merlin. Captivating for the onlooker I am sure, but alas, I have never personally seen a Black Merlin. I am sure that with diligent effort that fact will change. For whatever reason the Merlin is a favorite of mine, and I find every encounter a blessing. I look forward to meeting the bird time and time again, photographing, watching, and painting the bird thousands of times over.