WALNUT CREEK -- The Bedford Gallery experienced such a synergy of enthusiasm for it's first Cheetah Quick Draw event, featuring the luscious, lounging "Tango," it propelled them into round two: a "raptor capture."

Featuring five birds of prey--Eurasian eagle owl, leukistic red-tailed hawk, rough legged hawk, common barn owl and American kestrel--the May 11 real-time draw fest offered a rare opportunity to stand 10 feet from unique animals usually admired from afar.

We're talking about the artists, too, not just the birds. At a Bedford Quick Draw, more than a dozen professional Bay Area artists line up to draw, paint, iPad render and respond visually to animal kingdom models. Expert handlers describe the subjects' special attributes while the artists work.

Native Bird Connections’ Jenny Papka places a white Red-Tailed Hawk on a perch during the Raptor Quick Draw event at the Bedford Gallery in Walnut
Native Bird Connections' Jenny Papka places a white Red-Tailed Hawk on a perch during the Raptor Quick Draw event at the Bedford Gallery in Walnut Creek, Calif., on Saturday, May 11, 2013. Artist would draw live birds of prey as audience members watched. Proceeds of the event benefit the Bedford Gallery's exhibition program and Native Bird Connections. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

Audience members participate by drawing, asking questions, and by placing bids to purchase the artwork during a silent auction at the program's end. Proceeds benefit the gallery's exhibitions and the nonprofit partner, Native Bird Connection of Martinez. That group, created in 2000 to provide hands-on nature education to groups of all ages, revealed the mystery and vulnerability of their perch-tolerant selections.

A young male barn owl whose broken wing, though healed, prevented him from being released into the wild, can consume 700 pounds of pesky rodents in his lifetime.

But secondary poisoning from ingesting rodent poison threatens the species. A migratory rough legged hawk -- entirely missing a wing, due to an encounter with a car -- overcame the 80 percent mortality rate of hawks, but needs human assistance to survive.

How often do we have an hour to observe an American kestrel? Or stand 15 feet from an Eurasian eagle owl?

And truly, unless you live with an artist -- and even if you are one yourself -- there are few things as magically wondrous as seeing an image appear on paper or screen.

Perhaps purchasing an original work of art provides the same punch of pleasure.

And Quick Draw provides that too, along with the added satisfaction of supporting animal- and art-loving organizations.

---