Monday, October 27, 2014

Raptorama at Coastside Land Trust, Half Moon Bay
Coastside Land Trust's annual Raptorama is coming up, the weekend of November 7 through 9. Raptor enthusiasts, experts and local organizations will be leading walks, workshops and talks.
This coincides with the California Raptor Show at the Coastside Land Trust gallery from November 7 through February 13. My American Kestrel and Elf Owl paintings will be in the show. The artists' reception is on Friday, November 7th from 5-8:00 p.m.

What a great weekend to migrate to Half Moon Bay!

America's littlest Falcon

The American Kestrel uses strong winds and updrafts at Sibley Volcanic Preserve to his advantage, hovering above an open field on rapidly beating wings. When prey -- a lizard, rodent or small bird -- is spotted, the Kestrel rapidly tucks wings and streaks downward, head first. Most prey are caught on the ground, although insects and birds are sometimes taken in flight.

Last Friday, Karen and I made our first sighting of Sibley's resident Golden Eagle, hovering in the wind in the Kestrel's airspace. Courageous Kestrel, much smaller than the Eagle, flew repeated sorties from above, forcing the Eagle to hunt elsewhere.

The contenders:
American Kestrel: 8 - 12" body length
20 - 24 inch wingspan
3 - 6 ounces in weight

Golden Eagle: 27 - 33" body length
5 to 7 foot wingspan
6 to 13.5 pounds in weight

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A visit to Cal State East Bay's taxidermy collection

Aware of my obsession with all things avian, a good friend allowed me access to Cal State East Bay's taxidermy collection. Many of their songbird specimens are ravaged by time and infestation, but there are a few intact, sketchable specimens like this seagull, in an especially life-like posture.

Then there's the Common Raven, never more, in a much less animated pose.  

David Sedaris, humorist, author and frequent contributor to PRI's This American Life and The New Yorker magazine relates his experience buying a Valentine's Day gift at a London taxidermy shop -- my kinda guy. (see link below)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Ravenous 4

Ravens belong to the Corvid family, which also includes crows, jays and magpies. Corvids have high cognitive ability, and both Crows and Ravens can be taught to talk and can even recognize faces.

Ravens are acrobatic fliers, rolling and somersaulting in aerial stunts like birds of prey. Young birds play games with sticks, repeatedly dropping, and then diving and retrieving them in mid-air. One bird was seen flying upside down for a half-mile.

Inquisitiveness and intelligence earn Ravens a prankster reputation. They've been known to create power outages on power lines, foul satellite dishes, peel radar-absorbant material from a California Weapons Center, peck holes in airplane wings, invade camp tents and steal golf balls.

Ravens appear in the mythology of ancient and indigenous peoples and cultures throughout the world. The oldest known Common Raven lived 17 years.

Thanks to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology Cool Facts.

Monday, May 19, 2014


There's renewed interest in my ravens, so I've begun a series of four. Here's the first two. Sometimes I think I'm losing it -- I see the reflection of my own face in the top raven's eye.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I'm exhibiting now at The Collector Gallery, Berkeley

Nine bird paintings from two series: Birds with Attitude and Endangered Beauty. Show runs February 23rd through March 28th with reception on Friday, March 14th.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Birds with Attitude: Golden Eagle

The Golden Eagle is a magnificent bird of prey with a 6 foot wingspan. They mate for life, reuse the same large nest year after year and may live to 32 years.

The East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area has one of the world's largest nesting populations of Golden Eagles. Yet development continues to challenge eagle habitat, and wind farms at Altamont Pass continue to kill eagles and other raptors at an alarming rate.

Lead ammunition is also a significant factor in Golden Eagle mortality when the birds eat carcasses and prey contaminated by lead bullet fragments. AB711, a lead ammo ban in California (thank you, Governor Brown!) will take effect in 2019, providing plenty of time for hunters to switch to other forms of ammunition.

See a Golden Eagle in slow-motion flight:

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Endangered Beauty . . . Elf Owl

The world's smallest owl, the Elf Owl is the size of a sparrow with a 9-inch wingspan. Found in both riparian and arid habitats of Southwestern U.S. and Central Mexico, Elf Owls inhabit tree cavities, abandoned woodpecker holes and saguaro cactus. Identified by its poodle-like yapping song, Elf Owls feed on invertebrates such as moths, crickets and scorpions. When threatened, Elf Owls play dead until danger has passed. Elf Owls live three to six years.

See nesting Arizonan Elf Owl and two owlets:

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I'm exhibiting in the California Wildlife Show

I have two bird portraits in this show. Need a good excuse to get out of town and visit Half Moon Bay and the coast? It's beautiful and not that long a drive if you avoid commute hours.