Athena is a beautiful American Barn Owl and a bit of a Grande Dame at the sanctuary. She has been with them for a long time and is about to be retired soon to a life of leisure – not having to be on display. Capturing her image took some maneuvering and patience. She was high up in a pine tree (wonder how they put her up there) and beside having to wait for a good pose, there were other people there taking her photo as well as tree limbs blocking her face as the wind blew.
That’s not to say that an image with the subject being partially obstructed isn’t a good image. Those shots have their merits too as they can tell you more about where and what was going on when the shot was taken. I just wanted to capture all of her clearly because she was so striking on her perch.
While Athena was high in the tree, her European cousin was on the glove of a handler. Monty here is a European Barn Owl and while they look very much alike (heart shaped face and those dark eyes) Monty and his kind are bigger which is something to say considering owls, no matter how feathery they look, really weigh very little. Owl facts: The reason they can fly so quietly is because the edges of their feathers aren’t smooth but are somewhat comb edged which breaks up the air rushing over their wings making them much more stealthy. Barn owls are also the most widely distributed species of owl in the world and they don’t hoot, they shriek.
Another interesting fact is that while we humans have seven vertebrae in our necks, an owl has fourteen which is how they can bob their heads around and do that head turning thing they do so well. Also, both owls and hawks eat their prey whole but hawks can eat every bit of their prey while owls cannot digest fur or bone hence those owl pellets they spit up. Interesting…