Red Crowned Crane

2010.5.16 Red Crowned Crane


I like cranes for many of the same reasons I enjoy Egrets and Herons – the same basic shape, grace of movement, and drama of feathers. However, the crane is indigenous to Eurasia, not the Americas. So I don’t have the same personal experience. I know them only from images and stories.

Black Heron

2010.5.15 Black Heron

This bird is a clever bastard. He is standing in water, making a perfect circle with his wings over the water. If he stands absolutely still, a dumb fish will come right under his beak looking for shelter. This poor fish will think he has found the shade from a nice tree or bush growing out of the water – and not a clever hungry bird looking for dinner.

It’s both a beautiful sight, and a brilliant hunting strategy.

Great Frigate

2010.5.14 Great Frigate

If you love odd looking birds, then the great frigate is your man. The male frigate has a giant red puffy sack on his throat, which he inflates during mating season like a balloon. Actually, a male will inflate the “gular sac” and shake his head vigorously from side to side, attracting the attention of lady birds flying by. Which, in bird speak, is almost the equivalent of a floppy air-man used at car dealerships – doing a crazy air-fueled dance to stop traffic – only to sell himself as a mate and not to sell used cars.

In any case, a truly weirdly wonderful bird.

Combcrested Jacana

2010.5.12 Combcrested Jacana

These birds have crazy huge feet. They live in ponds and walk around on waterlilies. They have these massive toes to evenly distribute their weight so they won’t sink. It’s so clever. And also, they have a crazy beak wattle blob thing, which is always fun to draw.

Harpy Eagle

2010.5.11 Harpy Eagle

I am proud of this one, good eyes, good lines, not overworked.

According to my two seconds of googling, the harpy eagle is the largest and most powerful raptor in the Americas, and one of the largest in the world. So his glare is well deserved. Do not mess with him. He will back up that threat with some muscle and sharp bits.

Hooded Pitohui

2010.5.10 Hooded Pitohui

Fun fact: the pitohui is the first documented poisonous bird. Like poison-dart frogs, these birds eat toxic beetles which adds neurotoxins to their feathers and skin. So if you’re ever in New Guinea or thereabouts, and you see one of these guys, don’t lick it. Or touch it.