When I was about 9 years old I was out in my wooded backyard doing what 9 year olds do—just wandering around on a “Midwest close-to-Halloween” fall day. It was late afternoon and a glint of moving white caught my eye. I was awe-struck by this ghostly blur that I had never seen before. I watched as it glided easily through brown and yellow leafy branches and soon disappeared. I wasn’t quite sure what I had seen and I certainly did not know its name (barn owl). It has been and continues to be moments like these that define my interest, passion and joy in all things “nature.”
There are over 200 species of owls in the world and most are cryptically camouflaged to blend in their surroundings. They have binocular vision and have many more rods in the retinal layers of their eyes than we do and that allows them to see in very faint light, making them highly efficient nocturnal hunters. While they cannot rotate their eyeballs to look up, down, or sideways, owls are able to horizontally swivel their heads in a 270-degree motion because they possess special anatomical adaptations in their neck bones allowing for non-constricted blood flow from heart to head. In total darkness, owls rely on their keen hearing to focus on the location of their prey utilizing their concentric ringed feather covered facial discs that direct noise to their ears. Their stealth-like flight is aided by tiny soft branches called barbules that are extensions found on the edges of their flight feathers that zip together and silence the sound of their flapping wings. A few species, like the screech and great horned owl, have prominent ear tufts on the tops of their heads that can point upward or lay flat used in communication with other owls in their territories and with the opposite sex.
Over the years I created multiple illustrations of owls in watercolor, pen and ink and now in digital paint. My raptor rapture has resulted in images of these owls: screech, barn, saw-whet, snowy, barred, great horned and great grey. In creating my multiple examples of these magnificent raptors I revel in detailing their colorful and exquisite feathers providing an artful robe of luxurious decorative tapestry. In this process I celebrate and individualize what excites me in biodiversity and ornamentation down to the finest detail to give my subjects a loving and personal touch. For prints of this barn owl visit my shop. Images printed on metal or acrylic surfaces glow!
Perhaps you would like to pursue owls too. You will also find 45 images of a variety owls in the “I LOve Owls” collection in my shop and you can be sure more will be perching there soon. Wander with wonder in nature new visitors, old friends and fellow artists.