Ornithologi

A studio for bird study

Tag: raptor

Illustrating the Harpy Eagle

by Bryce W. Robinson

Untitled-3-01.jpgOver the past few years I’ve had the opportunity to illustrate the Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja), with the cover art for the Raptor Research Foundation‘s Journal of Raptor Research, and private commission work. Recently, I’ve focused again on the Harpy for a large and exciting project I’ve started with The Peregrine Fund (Stay tuned for details), and I’ll soon be returning to the species for Costa Rica focused work that I’ve also undertaken. I hope you enjoy the products of these upcoming endeavors as much as I’ll enjoy creating them.

Prints highlighting some of these Harpy Eagle images can be found in the shop.

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Differentiating Adult and Juvenile Gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus)

by Bryce W. Robinson

Gyrfalcon_Plate-01

Given that much of my career has been focused on the world’s largest falcon, the Gyrfalcon, I often get questions about their life history and Identification. A recurring question is the age of individuals that are observed in winter. Most often, folks ask about juvenile vs. adult, so I decided to make available a simple illustration with annotations as a reference for those with these questions.

What I’ve realized is that fleshy parts confuse a lot of people, since an adult should have yellow legs and cere, whereas a juvenile should have blue. However, it takes female birds much longer to change (well into their second year), and the coloration is also influenced by individual quality and hormones. Some adults, particularly females, tend to be quite dull in the winter (compare this with observations of gull legs in winter, e.g. California Gull). Adults that are likely three years or older (given presence of retained feathers in the upper wing, etc.) can have surprisingly dull legs that may appear blue under certain conditions. The key then is to take a step back and focus on the plumage, since in most cases it is quite straight forward.

The illustration above aims to highlight the key points for aging a Gyrfalcon between adult and juvenile. Eventually I’d like to visually describe more micro-aging factors, but for now I think this will be a helpful resource for those more unfamiliar with this species.

Please, feel free to send me feedback and suggestions. Constructive criticism is always welcome.

Fall Migration Poster Series: Light Morph Adult Buteos

by Bryce W. Robinson

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Image copyright Ornithologi – Bryce W. Robinson

Share, use, and enjoy this infographic. Fall migration is starting!

A poster of the above image is available in the shop. Here you can also get a limited edition print of the original artwork used to create this infographic as well.

Light Morph Ferruginous Hawk Plate

by Bryce W. Robinson

 

In my continued practice at illustration and the design of guide book style plates, I took the opportunity of expanding a needed Ferruginous Hawk illustration into a full plate. I focused on a goal to illustrate light morph adult and juveniles perched and in flight, both topside and underside. I’m currently emulating the traditional plate styles you see in contemporary guides, but as I’ve been illustrating I’ve had some ideas that I may try going forward as I attempt to tune in my illustrations.

For polymorphic species such as the Ferruginous Hawk, illustrating the entire spectrum of plumage types is entirely unreasonable if not impossible. Still, I think there are some plumage types that may deserve attention, apart from the classic rusty bodied birds and dark morphs. I’ve seen some interesting individuals, such as dark birds with white streaking on the breast that is reminiscent of dark morph Harlan’s Red-tailed Hawk. I think including these in an informative plate will communicate two things, one being of course some of the stranger possible plumage types but perhaps more importantly the pitfalls of focusing solely on plumage characteristics for identification.

I’ve produced prints of this illustration for purchase, but I’ve limited them to 25. You can find and purchase a print in the shop by clicking here.