Thursday, September 17, 2009


I tend to draw primarily mammals, but falcons have a special meaning to me. One of the falcon species native to my area is the peregrine, famous for being the fastest animal on earth, with speeds topping 300mph in their headfirst dives. I wanted to capture this in a drawing.

After being nearly wiped out by DDT in the '70s, the peregrine has made a full comeback in population. I recently had the opportunity to attend a seminar on raptor identification, focusing on the species here in New Mexico. Falcons have two key features: first, the area around the eye is completely devoid of feathers and matches the cere (area around the nose) in color. Second, they all have a malar stripe, a dark patch of feathers that goes straight down from the center of the eye, though the stripe is sometimes hard to identify in individuals with a full dark cheek.

Falcons' greatest strength is also their greatest weakness. The raptor can dive fast from great heights and knock flying birds out of the sky, catch them, and fly off to eat. Because of their speed and concentration on their next meal, they cannot see the power lines in their way. An impact with a power line can sever a wing, or cause severe tissue damage or electrocution. A portion of sales of prints and the original will go to The Wildlife Center which
rescues and rehabilitates these beautiful birds.


chris-melchior said...

Beautiful, I love peregrines! I've seen them in the wild in India, Thailand (on the side of a hotel in the middle of a town!) and UK. Amazing birds!

I love your horse painting on the above post too . . . great style.


Heather M. Ward said...

Thanks! The only peregrine I've seen in real life was at the wildlife rehab center. Poor thing has permanent nerve damage from hitting a power line. I'd love to see one in the wild, though.

Actually, that horse painting is not mine. The store offered to do a link-exchange on our blogs, so I was just showing off some of their work. I have a horse drawing planned for the future, though.