Tuesday, August 03, 2010

A Tribute to Owls

Unlike, for example, quiche and mackerels, I have never eaten an owl. In fact, I have not had much experience of any kind with them. I did go owl watching once in grade 9 (I was a member of the "Environment Club" at the time), and my sister and I spotted an owl outside our dorm at UBC. Other than that, though, I've seen owls only in pictures (moving and otherwise) and in the form of stuffed animals (one such specimen made an appearance on this blog a few years ago).

This week, however, having nothing better to do, I extracted a book of owls (namely Owls of the World: their evolution, structure and ecology, edited by John A. Burton) from a bookshelf, sketched a few of the owls, and was inspired to write a post about them.

It should be noted, to begin with, that although owls are generally charming by virtue of their large eyes, there are exceptions. The great grey owl, for example, has a large, pancake-like face with small, close-set yellow eyes (and no ear tufts!). As for the barn owl (and owls of the genus Tyto in general), its features are reminiscent of a human face, except with beady black eyes, no mouth, and a beak where the tip of the nose should be -- not very appealing.

Anyway, what struck and amused me while flipping through the book of owls was how expressive owls can be. Witness, for example, the following sketches (of a snowy owl and a bare-shanked screech owl, both based on photos in the book):


I especially like the snowy owl and its look of mixed triumph and contempt, even though it must be said that, in the original photo, the owl's bearing and expression are more leery (hence more amusing) and the effect is made more striking by the redness of the eye.

Snowy Owl

Below is a reddish scops owl of Malaysia -- chosen because of its fluffball-like proportions and because, in the photo, the intensity of its gaze is augmented by bright orange-yellow eyes.

Scops Owl

The owl in the next (and last) sketch is a spotted eagle owl (of Africa). The owl's head really is rather square from that angle, but was rendered more so by my lack of skill.

Spotted Eagle Owl

To finish off, I present you with the amazing transformative powers of a northern white-faced owl (his name is Popo-chan, also of Africa):

Note the expression of utter scorn at 1:45. By the way, in case the embedded video doesn't work, it can also be watched in non-embedded form on YouTube.


At 5:40 p.m., April 11, 2011, Blogger Telofy said...

Oh noes, your owl’s been censored. Luckily, there are enough mirrors on YouTube:


At 11:53 a.m., April 12, 2011, Blogger tvhtoo said...

Thank you. :o) It should be fixed now.


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