This website was developed for posting drawings and articles by Rafael A. Galvez, related to the depiction of birds from direct observation and any other nature-related themes derived from the field experience. For more information, please contact Rafael at galvezbirds@gmail.com or at 1-305-804-6003.


1947 Peterson GALVEZ
The 1947 Peterson had 7 blank pages in the back of the guide, which I used for sketching my “life list” as a child. Above are drawings I had added by the spring of 1987, at the age of 14.

I started birding during the fall of 1986, when I was a 13-year-old living in the suburbs of Kendall, a Miami, Florida neighborhood now known for its established populations of introduced bird species. However, my love of birds already ran deep for I enjoyed drawing them since I was quite small. I remember my fascination with sketching egrets and flamingos well before I ever saw one in the flesh. When my family moved to Florida from Lima, Perú, I was immediately enraptured by all the wading birds in nearby lakes. I had a handful of spark birds, including an Osprey plunging into the water in pursuit of fish, and a brown and white bird with a tall crest, which was not in my sole bird book – Peterson’s 1947 Field Guide to the Birds East of the Rockies. As a kid that grew up with a sketchpad in the hand, my primary impulse upon seeing this tall-crested bird was to draw my own interpretation of it. Soon, I was at my local library, determined to identify this bird not depicted by Peterson. To douse in the graphic and orderly quality of field guides, with page after page of illustrations, became as meaningful to my birding foundation as was the pursuit of birds in the field. I eventually found my mystery bird – a Red-whiskered Bulbul – illustrated by Arthur Singer in the Golden Guide.

Since then, it has become second nature for me to sketch a bird when I see one in the field. There is hardly a more pleasurable – and effective – way of learning birds than by sketching from direct observation. I’ve been fortunate to travel extensively and have made a life around painting birds and contributing to field research. Along the way, I’ve had the opportunity to depict many of my favorite species during that moment of discovery – when I first encountered them.

Currently, I am the director of the Florida Keys Hawkwatch – the southernmost raptor migration monitoring project in the continental U.S. Our site is renowned for documenting the highest number of migratory Peregrine Falcons on Earth. During the fall, I am counting songbirds every morning from coastal habitats in the Middle Keys, and raptors into the afternoon. The rest of the year, I am guiding bird tours for Victor Emanuel Nature Tours, teaching workshops or attending bird festivals as a representative of the Leica Sport Optics Pro Staff. I am also a board member of Tropical Audubon Society, and on the Florida Ornithological Society’s Records Committee.

My artwork has been featured in a number of publications. I illustrated and co-authored (with L. Gavashelishvili and Z. Javakhishvili) a field guide to Raptors and Owls of Georgia (Buneba Print, 2004) while collaborating with the BirdLife International affiliate in the Republic of Georgia for several years. During this period, I contributed to a number of publications as illustrator, graphic designer and editor. Independently, I have also participated as recordist and director for a series of productions and releases on the traditional chants of the Caucasus region. My designs, layout and branding work have played a role in the creation of art books, magazines, records and product labels.

For more information, please contact me at galvezbirds@gmail.com or 1-305-804-6003.

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