Saturday, November 30, 2013

Yellow-eyed Hawk - Colored Pencil Drawing

"Yellow-eyed Hawk" Colored Pencil

Finding your place in the world today can be a challenge but this bird of prey is more than well-equipped to thrive in the wild. An eastern red-tailed hawk stares confidently out of a blazing, autumn background. After two years of age, the extraordinary yellow eyes of this juvenile will transform into a dark brown.

Raptor vision has evolved to become the sharpest in the Animal Kingdom. The visual acuity of the hawk is legendary. Using its excellent eyesight to find and capture its prey, a red-tail can spot a rabbit from two miles away. Large eyes allow for maximum levels of light so the retinal picture is composed from a greater number of optical cells resulting in a higher resolution image.

The hawk has front facing eyes that give it binocular vision which is assisted by a double fovea. With binocular vision, the fields of view of the left and right eye overlap. This binocularity allows for stereoscopic vision, which in turn provides for spectacular long distance perception.

A fovea is a small area of acute vision in the retina where the concentration of visual cells is the most intense. We have one fovea while a hawk, with its wide binocular field of view, has both a central and lateral fovea. That's one reason why a hawk can see eight times more clearly than even the sharpest human eye.

The hawk's adaptations for intensified visual resolution has come at a cost though. The huge eyes occupy a substantial portion of the skull allowing only limited room for the brain. Also, it has a poor range of view in low light levels so the bird must roost at night.

My impression of the red-tailed hawk is that despite those limitations, the tradeoff appears to have worked out just fine. As you can plainly see, the future for the young raptor pictured above certainly appears to be bright.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Evergreen Sculpture Garden - A Sunday Stroll

A snowy morning surrounded by sculptures

"Sculpture is the art of the intelligence" ~ Pablo Picasso

Spent a snowy, Sunday morning surrounded by stunning sculptures. Just down the street is a natural amphitheater containing fertile soil. Here, art-in-the-round is grown from the seeds of creativity.

The Evergreen Fine Art's Sculpture Garden displays some incredible works by talented artists. Most of the pieces are Western-themed and express the spirit of the wild but some have a more modern feel.

A larger-than-life mountain lion overlooks the open-air gallery where a charming, gravel path leads the viewer between three-dimensional forms. The circuitous route ends in a hypnotic forest of kinetic sculptures.

On the plot you'll see wolves howl, river otters at play and a mischievous black bear. Canada geese glide through cattails below a golden bronze that sparkles in the sunlight. The dramatic conclusion is a pair of majestic eagles engaged mid-flight.

Situated in a rugged mountain setting, the visitor is allowed to examine the sculptures by contemplating their size, shape, subject matter and construction. You can also explore their texture, surface and seamless relationship with the local landscape.

My impression of the scene has led me to believe Picasso was right. I'm mostly a draughtsman but here I can appreciate sculpture as the art of the intelligence. It appears intelligent people work not only in science but in the arts as well.

Evergreen's sculpture garden is down the street

Canada geese glide through cattails

A mischievous black bear

Majestic eagles

Sculpture is the art of the intelligence

Wolves howl

There is a spirit of the wild

River otters play

A giant mountain lion overlooks the garden

Situated in an amphitheater

The hypnotic forest

Some of the sculptures are quite modern

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Rainbow Hill - A Golden Morning

Silvery aspen in a golden meadow

Most scientists believe Bigfoot doesn't exist, the universe wasn't made in seven days and there aren't really pots of gold at the end of rainbows but those legendary myths are unique metaphors that express a certain truthfulness not found in literal interpretations.

North out of Evergreen, we went up over Rainbow Hill where our Saturday morning search for gold came true. We discovered a land where bluebirds fly, red foxes hide and the goldeneye dive. It's a place where the Great Divide is forever white and skies are blue.

We followed the yellow rock road into a meadow of silvery aspen. Warm light filtered softly through the dark spruce and fir. An autumn breeze broke the silence and made waves for orange mallards dabbling in the cold, green lake.

People will tell you don't waste your time going after something impractical and foolish, but don't listen, just continue on your journey. Keep chasing rainbows and maybe the dreams that you dare to dream really will come true.

Warm, golden light

The Great Divide is forever white

Red foxes hide

There was an Autumn breeze

Orange mallards dabble

The common goldeneye is a diver

Continue on your journey

Keep chasing rainbows

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Elijah - Colored Pencil Drawing

"Elijah" Colored Pencil

It's been ten years since we lost Elijah. He became so sick we had to have him put down. It was one of the most difficult, heartbreaking experiences of my life. They said "He was just a dog," but he was more than that. He was my best friend. We climbed some of Colorado's highest peaks together. I opened my heart wider than I ever had before. He would have died for me, I know it.

There is no creature on earth more unconditionally loyal than man's best friend. Our faithful Sheltie proved that. It was tough at first but children and time healed the wound. They said "Get another one," but it was too painful. I had a decent excuse, my youngest son has allergic reactions to most animals including dogs and cats. They said "It's Colorado, dog capital of the world," but I just couldn't do it.

After a decade of goldfish, hermit crabs, Russian tortoises and gentle prodding, I've finally relented. I shouldn't punish the children for my pain. They said "There's nothing like a boy and his dog," but I know that better than anyone. I guess it's time.

Welcome to the family, Oskar the Schnorgi. He's a two-month-old Miniature Schnauzer / Pembroke Welsh Corgi mix. We got him from up on the Willow Creek Ranch. He's an extremely affectionate lap dog with a playful personality. Hypoallergenic and non-shedding, our little designer breed has made himself right at home. Here we go again. Happy birthday to me.

Welcome Oskar the Schnorgi

He has made himself right at home

Here we go again

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Red-tailed Hawk - A Versatile Raptor

Red-tailed Hawk

It's a jungle out there. Wild animals are finding it increasingly difficult to survive in an environment so drastically altered by human intervention. Despite the transformations, there is a versatile raptor that's making life in the wilderness look easy. The red-tailed hawk has benefited from forest thinning, fire suppression and construction of the interstate highway system.

The red-tailed hawk has adapted to a new landscape dominated by sparse woodlands and open fields. Their numbers have increased because we've created prime hunting areas that provide ideal nest sites and elevated perches. First identified in Jamaica, the diverse red-tail is currently widespread as its range extends from Alaska and Canada south all the way to Panama.

Working during the day, the broad-winged buteo soars above meadows surveying its territory for mice and possible intruders. It has a nocturnal neighbor that handles the nightshift. The red-tailed hawk frequently shares its land with the Great Horned Owl. Together, they form one of nature's most efficient, rodent exterminators.

At home, the red-tail is a devoted spouse and parent. After a dramatic, aerial courtship, the pair stays together for life. It's a relationship based on trust and teamwork. Both the male and female take part in nest building, incubation and raising the young. Sometimes they even hunt together. One bird will strategically flush prey into the razor sharp talons of the other. It's a match made in heaven, 'til death do they part.

An efficient hunter

It has benefited

A widespread hawk

Life in the wilderness

Sharp eyes

Surveying the territory

Numbers have increased

A versatile raptor

Adapted to a new landscape

Soaring above open fields

A devoted parent