Rose-breasted Grosbeak - Pheucticus ludovicianus
September 20, 2011
Last Thursday I was able to clock in some time at the zoology lab. I made a study skin of another Pheucticus ludovicianus. This is the forth that I have worked on since returning to the Field to continue my volunteer work in the bird division. Two were fully mature males, one was a female, and then this one (in the photos above) was an immature fall male. Adult Rose-breasted Grosbeak males have bold color contrasts: solid black head, wings, and back contrasted with a white breast and a patch of rosy red at the neck. Adult females look more like large sparrows: brown, with lots of dark streaking. An immature male will sort of look like a hybrid between female and adult male plumage. It will be brown with lots of dark streaking except there will be some patches of that gorgeous strawberry red.
Aside from the plumage, another indication that this was not a fully mature male was that when I looked at the skull, the bone was not fully ossified. Bone ossification in passerine birds will yield a fine stippling pattern throughout the skull. This male's skull was only about 40% ossified, meaning the stippling pattern only covered roughly 40% of his skull bone.
The last I checked, grosbeaks are in the Cardinalidae family, which of course include cardinals.
John Conrad Hansen
September 15, 2011
I started today in a rotten mood. Rotten. Phooey. I went to the Field Museum and it helped disspel that state. One of the things I love is that in the hallways that I walk through to get to the zoology prep lab, there are some great little display cases. This is one of my favorites. It's a case that has original paintings by this old Field illustrator, John Conrad Hansen. It's hard to be grumpy while gazing upon little elephanthippos, and wooly mammoths. And really, Mr. Hansen looks like he had the potential to beat me at grumpiness any day of the week.
Variation on a theme, new medium
September 05, 2011
I've been wanting to try gouache for some time, and recently bought a set of gouache paints. To familiarize myself with it a bit, a I made a small painting on clayboard that's a variation of theme from my last raven watercolor. I think I like gouache; the flatness of it. Anyway, this little 6 x 6 inch gouache on board is available in the STORE.