Artist Hans Peeters

Hans Peeters is an ornithologist, retired biology professor, and author/illustrator of three University of California Press field guides to California’s wildlife, including Raptors of California. He’s also written various scientific papers and a book on falconry.

Hans painted his first bird guide in Germany at the age nine. It was an early interest in falconry there that led him to later specialize in raptors, though he also paints mammals and plants. His work appears in many books and popular field guides, including the Smithsonian Institution’s Birds of South Asia.

Hans lives in Sunol, California, where his studies on Golden Eagles identified the area to have the densest population of breeding Golden Eagles in the world.

I’d run across Hans’ work in publications over the years and owned a copy of his beautifully written and illustrated Raptors of California. Early in 2020, I made arrangements to commission Hans to paint a Peregrine Falcon for the cover of an upcoming issue of The Journal of Raptor Research where co-authors and I had a research paper on peregrines that had been accepted for publication.

The arrangements involved working with JRR editor Cheryl Dykstra and Kate Davis. Kate had a peregrine photo that would serve as the model for Hans’ painting. Hans loved Kate’s photo, but decided to replace the driftwood log and background for the journal cover.

Kate’s peregrine photo chosen as the model bird for Hans’ painting. Kate is director of the nonprofit Raptors of the Rockies; she lives in Montana.
Kate Davis (center) with photographers Rob Palmer (left) and Nick Dunlop. In 2011 the three published “Raptors of the West, Captured in Photographs” which included photos of raptors from our study area beaches.

Kate’s photo was taken on the beach at Ocean Shores, Washington. The falcon’s leg bands are clearly visible as it leaps from the log. The green band has the letter-letter code W/Z which is unique to this individual. We banded W/Z on the beach at Ocean Shores when a first-year male on November 17, 2007.

Hans began work on the painting in mid-March of 2020. He reported his progress to me along the way.

March 12. Hans “Un ala la vez!” (Spanish for “one wing at a time.”)
March 14. Hans: “Taking wing.”
March 16. Hans: “Steering and braking mechanisms.”
March 18. Hans: “Fuselage.”
March 25. Hans: “Progress in the time of plague. Landing gear and perch will be addressed today.”
Dan: “Fantastic!”

Hans sent me a digital copy of the final image. I forwarded that to Cheryl who sent it on to Allen Press for use on the cover page.


Our research paper and another one in that journal that issue of the journal demonstrate use of banding data from long-term studies to advance our knowledge of these magnificant birds. Click on the titles below to see the papers and learn more.

Peregrine Falcon Survival Rates Derived From a Long-term Study at a Migratory and Overwintering Area in Coastal Washington

Linking Peregrine Falcons (Falco peregrinus) Wintering in Peru With Their North American Natal and Breeding Grounds

Note: If you would like to see more of my Blog posts on artists, click on “The Artists” below.

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