Saturday, August 09, 2008

The Spotted Owl



The wise old owl perched high up in a tree,
She pondered most everything that she did see,



Her claws gently held the rough branch where she sat,
When suddenly... she spied something that looked like a cat...




"I have always liked cats", she said, with a wondering smile...
"but you're fur and I'm feather"........... so she flew one more mile.




Whooo-Whooo-....... Whoo-Whoooooo!!!!!!!




This simple little rhyme was written this morning but the watercolor/pen and ink, I did back this past spring, when things are slower 'round here... I almost wrote the line "you'll be lunch in a while" instead of "so she flew one more mile".... but I just didn't have the heart to have that cat on my conscious. Which line would you have used?

We don't have Spotted Owls but other species of owls fly through the night-air and sit on the roof-tops and in tree-tops, hoo-hooing to each other when we go for walks at midnight....

......fog, stillness, gentle waves and owls ............. sheer magic...

I can't resist returning their call... But I sure wish I knew what we were saying..


***



A beautiful owl skull I discovered online...




The Spotted Owl, Strix occidentalis... Long lived... nocturnal, woodland owl... average length 18"... weight 1 1/2 lbs. ..... round head... brown plumage is heavily spotted with white on the breast and belly...

Roosts in deep shade during the day... Hunting is done mainly at night, usually beginning just after sunset and ending a half hour before sunrise... They use the "sit and wait" approach...

... The Spotted Owl lives in old-growth coniferous forests in western North America....They prefer shaded mountain slopes and canyons over flat plateau areas..... is generally non-migratory...

Spotted owl pairs mate for life... They nest primarily in stick nests, on clumps of mistletoe, in large tree cavities, on broken tops of large trees, on large branches, or cavities in banks and rock faces.... Timing and success in producing offspring are strongly linked to the availability of prey, and not all pairs breed every year.... Old nests tend to be reused year after year... clutch size averages 2-3 eggs...



approx. 3" x 4"... watercolor, brush, india ink and crowquill pen on 140 lb. CP Arches watercolor paper.

37 comments:

Sharon said...

Oh, definitely the cat for lunch line. The little town we lived in in Kansas was rampant with feral kitties and the owls who ate them.

Gorgeous sketch, I love the sepia tones!

Anet said...

Oh, I just love this cuddley Owl!
So sweet...
And I like the way you ended your poem! Cat lover here! But I can see Sharon's point with feral cats, we have a few here that are such a pain! Love to learn about the owls. I do a little owl unit with my preschoolers in the fall.

Annette said...

Oh Gwen, how lovely!Once again you've made my day!I love owls and this one is delightful!
You were so right not to let him eat the cat. Well, this time anyway!
I'm so soft, when I do storytelling at work, I always have to 'tweak' the nasty bits!

denise said...

I love owls - beautiful!

Owls are such awesome predators, yet so beautiful and seemingly serene. They are all around our area, but rarely seen as we live in a more urban environment...every once in awhile a coyote or owl will wander through, stunning the neighbors. I love it. ;)

The skulls are lovely too. I love seeing that stark whiteness and detail.

Guillaume said...

I love owls too, they are that kind of animals that are both beautiful and terrifying. They are very similar to cats in a way. They are also at the origin of many ghost stories.

Gwen Buchanan said...

Sharon, I guess if there is too many wild kitties.. who'll miss a few...
...1 for the owl...

Anet, I'm glad to hear that you're teaching the little ones about owls.. they probably think they are cool from Harry Potter too... They must love finding out about them
...1 for the cat...

Hey Annette, I love your soft heartedness, this time he got off...
2 for the cat

Hi Denise, Skulls are always an inspiration to me too...
... possibly 2, now for the owl...

Thanks Guillaume, yes they are rather in the same category ... mysterious... both serene and beautiful, sitting waiting at night long sharp daggers...
I'm guessing now.. 3 for the owl...

kate said...

Wow! This post has it all! A beautiful rendering, a rhyme, amazing skulls, some very interesting factual information about owls, and a moral dilemma! Who could ask for more. Thanks Gwen! And weighing in, I'd say survival of the fittest...whichever that is. So much for poetry!

Jo Horswill said...

I new Kate would like the 'skulls',
Gwen, your watercolour owl, is precious. I love the detail images...can ooh and ahh at your beautiful line work...so fine!
We have owls here in the Dandenongs, thier sound is a gentle "mopo, mopo, mopo".

Guillaume said...

Oh, and I forgot to say, that's a really nice watercolour owl you did. I'd love to have something like that on the walls here (that and the portrait of Anthony Burgess you made).

Arija said...

Gwen your cat and owl popularity poll is as adorable as your owl. Odd though that you and I posted on owls on the same day. Yours of course much superior with the art work and gleaming skulls.

Gwen Buchanan said...

I think Kate wants to see feather and fur, fly!! A little toying to see hoo comes out on top.. Thank ou so much for your gracious comments..

Thank you, Jo, I love to hear about the birds that match ours in other parts of the world.... up to this point I never realized that owls ever said anything other than "Hoo" .... I wonder if "Mopo" is what the owls say where Arija lives?


Guillaume, Thanks , That is very kind of you to say...I appreciate it..

Arija Isn't that fun! I guess owls were somehow in both our minds... tho mine is not superior at all, it was just something I was mulling over. Your visual was wonderful!!!

mansuetude said...

I think your owl is so wise, peaceful, thoughtful. I would let the cat pass, too much cat fur in the throat is not good for a talking owl's whoo ing. :)

I woke to an owl this morning outside at 5:30 which was a treat. If an owl makes a nest "on clumps of mistletoe" a lot of kissing would ensue, less hooting, don't you think?

I meant to tell you this as response earlier on my blog; i think when I whoo back at an owl and it echos my call, we are somehow linking, honoring each other's divinity. Acknowledging spirit.

Marie Alton said...

Gwen...we are owl lovers too...we have two large Robert Bateman prints of Great Horned Owls!

The cottage we'll be at this week has owls in the woods. Two years back when we were there...Melanie mastered their call and chatted with them...until they started chatting with each other...then we just listened to them hning in on each other...and I think they actually found each other. It was way cool. Hope we hear them this year.

Gwen Buchanan said...

more kissing could be a better thing! maybe we could find a home in the mistletoe for some politicians... second thought the owls might not find the company too entrancing...

I love your interpretation of the special connection when talking to owls.. an acknowledgment of spirit.. Beautiful and well said!

I believe it's a tie... 3-3

Gwen Buchanan said...

Marie. these are the owls we have.. they are quite magnificent!

To be part of the interchange is so thrilling isn't it.. We are all just a small part of the whole and when we connect with another species is so beautiful...

VioletSky said...

I'm not normally attracted to skulls, but that first one is mesmerizing - the size of his beak and the eye sockets!!

Your rendering is much prettier though.

Most older nursery rhymes were quite gruesome ... even as a cat lover, I vote for the cat.

sigh, I'll probably go to kitty hell for that.

Gwen Buchanan said...

Kitty hell here she comes... Sanna, I am assuming that your vote is for the cat to be gat! Nursery rhymes are usually a bit harsh...but alas... life is a trial!

score: Owls 4 Cats 3
with several sitting on the fence or branch whichever the case may be..

rivergardenstudio said...

I love your sleepy owl! When I see an owl, it is a very magical moment that I never forget. Your painting is wonderful, so light and fluffy, and I love the way you combine science and art. Thanks for the lovely post! Roxanne

Ruth said...

Very lovely watercolor pen and ink.

I vote for 'she flew one more mile.' It made me smile, though I'm not one to mind the food chain.

We've had owls at the farm hoot to each other, and Don has tried to join in when we sit in the hot tub at night. I have never seen an owl in the wild, but I hope to some day on the farm.

Gwen Buchanan said...

thank you Ruth and Roxann...
Max and I were out walking on the salt water marsh that gets dry during the waxing part of the moon, as the tides don't reach as high then, and I found a dried owl pellet.. it was gray, about 1" x 3", filled with dried bits and bones, fur and feather and a tiny bird beak!.. Guess we know what she had for supper... tis life and death...


even Stephen...4-4

lynne h said...

oh, i wouldn't want the kitty on my conscience either, gwen! the owl must fly on! i love your painting -- it captures the owl energy completely. and the bird skulls... is there anything more elegant than a bird skull? i think not.

my very first thought on reading this post was, 'that looks like arches 140# cp'... was smiling to read at the end that it was indeed.

Gwen Buchanan said...

Gees, Lynne, you really know your paper.. I'm impressed!!! when we first found our cut over forest land there were pieces of a crow skeleton lying beside some brush.. I managed to save the skull and the bottom jaw/bill .. I felt so lucky to have come across it... I'll post it sometime...

One more for the cats get-away... cats 5-owls 4

Jazz said...

I love that watercolour! And I would have had the owl have the cat for lunch, as that's probably what would have happened...

Gwen Buchanan said...

You know Jazz, you are probably right!!!

cats 5 - owls 5

Chris' Greetings from the Shady Grove said...

Your owl is amazing. It just leaps from the page. I love the story of your Christmas present too!

Gwen Buchanan said...

Thanks so much, Chris... I never imagined I would ever get a present like that for christmas ... I must have been on Santa's good list that year...!!!

Sandy said...

I was making my way through blogs so quick this morning, I miss this wonderful painting!! I love it.

Sandy said...

I was making my way through blogs so quick this morning, I miss this wonderful painting!! I love it.

Sandy said...

well heck, ...but it deserved two comments

Gwen Buchanan said...

Thank you Sandy, you always make me laugh...
did you ever consider comedy for a profession?

Robyn said...

Beautiful post! I wonder how many of us imitate bird calls as we walk.

As for your wonderful christmas present...what a treat! I loved seeing the newspaper cutting.

flyinamber said...

lovely sketch!your owl looks so cute!

Gwen Buchanan said...

Thank you so much for visiting Dada..

seth said...

Wonderful watercolor and such a sweet poem. Have to admit, I like both endings!

Sandy said...

hahahaha,....no Gwen, never have and never will, but thanks!

Sandy said...

p.s. my dark side is as dark as my funnier side is light...and no one would want to hear that!

I'm split. I just know I am...cracked could be more like it.

Gwen Buchanan said...

thanks Seth.. yes sometimes it goes left and sometimes right!

Sandy you are amusing!