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Osprey Nature Study

My first raptor painting is complete. What better hawk than an ocean loving one? Also know as the "fish-hawk."

"The regular arrival of this noted bird at the vernal equinox when the busy season of fishing commences adds peculiar interest to its first appearance and procures it many a benediction from the fishermen." - T.A. Conrad.

We love seeing these guys in our neck of the woods. I love that we build bases atop utility poles for these guys to make their nests in. You can see an example of those below. After I painted Mr. Fish-Hawk I knew I needed to find his nest. I love to paint local birds, and I'm currently on a sea-bird kick. The male Osprey gathers sticks and ingredients for the perfect nest, then the female arranges it. In the first nesting season their nest will usually be around 2 2 1/2 feet in diameter and 3"-6" deep. After generations of adding to the nest it can reach 3 - 6 feet in diameter and 10 - 13 feet deep! Raccoons will prey on their eggs and fledglings, so the higher nests prevent the loss of their young. The Osprey is the only raptor whos diet is mostly fish. Therefore their habitat includes almost any expanse of shallow, fish-filled water, including rivers, lakes, reservoirs, lagoons, swamps, and marshes. Whatever the location, it must include an adequate supply of accessible fish within 12 miles of their nest. I really enjoyed learning more about these amazing creatures. My favorite part of homeschooling is nature study. 9 times out of 10 if you see me painting an animal, I will be also studying about it. I definitely have to write it all out in my journal to remember the incredible facts. Here are a few more. I'd love to hear about your favorite raptor! I hope this encourages you to get out your nature journal and draw or paint!

  • Nesting Season in Florida: December - February

  • Courtship: Courtship displays include pair circling high together; male may fly high and then dive repeatedly in vicinity of nest site, often carrying a fish or stick.

  • Clutch Size: 1-4 eggs

  • Number of Broods: 1 brood

  • Egg Length: 2.2-2.7 in

  • Incubation Period: 36-42 days

  • Nestling Period: 50-55 days

  • Egg Description: Cream to pinkish cinnamon; wreathed and spotted with reddish brown.

  • Condition at Hatching: Capable of limited motion. Covered with down and with eyes open.

  • Young: Female remains with young most of time at first, sheltering them from sun and rain; male brings fish, female feeds them to young.

  • First Flight: about 51-54 days

  • Diet: Fish, fish, and more fish

  • Habitat: Rivers, lakes, coast. Found near water, either fresh or salt, where large numbers of fish are present. May be most common around major coastal estuaries and salt marshes, but also regular around large lakes, reservoirs, rivers.

I really enjoyed my new Bockingford watercolour paper for this piece. The texture is incredible. It took some getting used to, but I think it looks lovely, especially in the white spaces on the Osprey's body. I used Winsor and Newton's professional watercolor pan set. My favorite part of this painting is the texture achieved on his right shoulder. I tried to create movement by including blue and green splatters. I like to keep a minimal or abstract background for my bird study paintings.

There will be no prints for sale for this guy, but I'll have the original in the shop soon. He's already matted and framed in a lovely weathered wood frame.

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