Sunday, 16 November 2014

#583 In the Field: Birds of the North Country, con't . . .

This blog is part of a series of posts about
our island studio and cabin located on
Lake of the Woods in Ontario, Canada. 
The series starts with #568, posted
September 24 of this year.  There are
many earlier posts about the cabin that
can be seen by going to the blog index.

Much of my in the field experience and reference is gathered at the 
island studio located on Lake of the Woods.  Starting with blog #578, 
the birds of the North Country including those who remain during Ontario's frigid winter weather have been explored.  The focus 
of this blog is the different species of owls who stay
during the winter in the vicinity of my island studio.

Although we've never wintered at the cabin when the lake is frozen over,  my thoughts often go to the animals who are able to withstand the bitter cold winter months.  Owls are among the creatures who are
able to adapt to a world of wind, ice, and snow.

Among the different species of owls who remain in the frozen North Country in the Lake of the Woods region
are the Great Gray Owl, the Snowy Owl, the Northern Hawk Owl, the Northern Saw-whet Owl,
the Boreal Owl, the Barred Owl, and the Great Horned Owl.

At left above and below are photos of the Great Horned Owl.

Owls are members of the order Strigiformes, are mainly nocturnal predators, have
 distinctive forward-facing eyes which gives depth perception much like your own eyes,
 and a facial disk which helps the bird hear . . . much like a satellite dish.

Owls have the best night vision of any creature on earth allowing them to hunt in the dark.
 Interestingly, one of an owl's ear holes is higher than the other which helps the bird find prey. . .
owls have superb hearing and vision.  The tufts of feathers on some owls are not ears . . .
the ears are behind their moveable facial discs allowing hearing from different directions.
Also, an owl's wing feathers have soft, frayed edges which permits silent flight while hunting.

Below is a photo of a Barred Owl. . . a species without ear tufts.

Below, is a drawing of a Great Gray Owl . . . an enormous, secretive Northwoods owl who more than any other,
defines the Lake of the Woods coniferous forest.  I've experienced the Great Gray only a few times
while in residence at the island studio.  Once, at dusk I heard its distinctive deep hooting and was
finally able to locate it in a pine tree.  On another occasion, I saw the beautiful bird
cruising through the woods on the wing while grouse hunting.

Below, is a head study of a Great Horned Owl.  The drawing was created at the Brookgreen Gardens Aviary
and was the precursor to a sculpture demonstration for students in the workshop.

Below, is the clay model of the workshop demonstration depicting a head study of a Great Horned Owl created at the
 Brookgreen Gardens Aviary.  Also shown, is the bronze casting of the demo entitled, "Wind in the Woods".

Below, is a little acrylic painting of a Snowy Owl created in Alaska during a canoe trip on
the Noatak River recently. The Snowy does not nest in the Lake of the Woods region where my island
studio is located but moves in from its nesting area in the arctic tundra during the winter to feed.

Oil on panel

Go to the BLOG INDEX on the right for more information. 

Blog, text, photos, drawings, and sculpture . . . © Sandy Scott and Trish

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