Wednesday, August 15, 2012

"Storm," the Barn Owl, makes a cameo appearance...

"Storm," the Barn Owl, is a teaching owl at RAPTOR, Inc. in Cincinnati, Ohio. RAPTOR is a non-profit organization committed to the preservation of birds of prey. RAPTOR members rehabilitate injured birds of prey until they can be released back into the wild. Unfortunately, some have permanent damage and can't hunt or survive on their own, so they stay on at RAPTOR as educational birds. Last autumn I  photographed many of their resident birds, and Storm was one of them. Storm was admitted to RAPTOR on June 26, 2007 as a nestling with a severe left wing soft tissue wound. The owl's left wing had been caught in the seam of a barn and was not able to be saved. Since then, Storm has become one of the most photographed and beloved of their educational birds (click here for all past RAPTOR, Inc. posts).

Whenever I post photos of captive raptors, I always make sure to let artists know they can use the photos as references for their paintings, so I was especially happy when I heard from the very talented and interesting Virginia painter Mary Chiaramonte. Mary put our beautiful Storm in one of her paintings and sent me a photo of it that I could post. If you look at the shed, Storm is perched on the right side of the roof...

"Trespass" by Mary Chiaramonte--a painting featuring "Storm" the Barn Owl!
"Trespass" by Mary Chiaramonte
(Storm the Barn Owl is perched on the right side of the roof...looking very Stormy! I love the night-feel in this painting.)
Mary's paintings are multi-faceted and very interesting. I can't stop looking at them! They are made up of layer upon layer of emotion. You'll have to take your time and study them. Click here to see more of her paintings. Thank you, Mary for sending me the photo! If you are interested in keeping up with Mary's work, you can "friend " her on Facebook because she posts new paintings there: http://www.facebook.com/mary.chiaramonte.9

Since Storm has been made famous in Mary's painting, I thought I would include a few more photos of our gorgeous star. These are all great reference photos for artists and painters focusing on cryptic feather patterns, wing shape, and close-ups of those amazing talons and feet...

Cryptic camouflage patterns in a Barn Owl's plumage -- "Storm" from RAPTOR, Inc.
Barn Owl feathers have beautiful cryptic colors and patterns to help camouflage it.
Barn Owl profile -- "Storm" from RAPTOR, Inc.
...a profile shot of Storm the Barn Owl with a bit of "eyeshine" triggered by the morning sunlight reflecting off the tapetum lucidum, a reflective layer of cells behind the retina that helps owls and other nocturnal animals see at night (click here for more about eyeshine and the tapetum lucidum).  
Extended wing of a barn owl -- "Storm" from RAPTOR, Inc.
Storm in the classic Count Dracula pose...
Close-up of a wing of a barn owl -- "Storm" from RAPTOR, Inc.
The silent flight of nocturnal owls has intrigued humans forever. It's achieved because of a unique adaptation to the trailing feathers on the back end of the wing. The leading edge (primary feathers) are serrated, which helps with stability, but the trailing feathers are fringed and tattered and account for the silence by breaking up the sound waves generated as air flows over the top of the wings and forms downstream wakes (source: National Geographic, "Owls' Silent Flight May Inspire Quiet Aircraft Tech," by John Roach. Click here for the complete article).    
Wing feather details of a barn owl -- "Storm" from RAPTOR, Inc.

Head-on shot of a Barn Owl's face -- "Storm" from RAPTOR, Inc.
These large, forward facing eyes allow for good stereoscopic vision, which helps owls judge distances. Owls have the most forward facing eyes of all birds...and the flat face allows the eyes to be spaced as widely apart as possible to increase the stereoscopic effect. It's easy to see where the nickname, "Old Flatface" came from. For more on owl eyesight, click here.

Camouflage plumage patterns of a Barn Owl -- "Storm" from RAPTOR, Inc.

Close up of a Barn Owl's feet and talons -- "Storm" from RAPTOR, Inc.
The strong, long and sharp talons on owls' and other raptors'  feet can do a lot of damage and set them apart from other birds. Birds of prey have a locking mechanism that keeps the toes locked around their prey without having to use muscles to remain contracted. Click here for more specifics on owls' talons.  

26 comments:

TexWisGirl said...

such a beauty! that is an eerie, haunting painting, but i like it, too!

Jayne said...

Just gorgeous Kelly. What a wonderful profile of a very beautiful owl. :c)

Jenny wren's nest said...

What a great close up picture of the owl thank you for permission to use your owl pictures. I am always looking for inspiration.

holdingmoments said...

Storm is such a beautiful owl. Excellent pictures of her Kelly.

And Mary is such a talented painter.

Montanagirl said...

I really, really like that painting! I'd love to walk right into and look around. Your Owl photos are fabulous. Such a beautiful bird.

Adrienne in Ohio said...

The painting is beautiful! I really enjoyed the photo series of Storm as well, Kelly.

~mel said...

Such a pretty bird.

Janice K said...

Outstanding pictures....Such a beautiful bird!

Mary Ann Gieszelmann said...

Kelly, I am intrigued by the purplish dotted patterns on Storm's wings. They almost seem like random spotting. Is that just a color spot at the tips of some of the wing feathers?

Guy said...

Hi Kelly

What a beautiful post, Storm is wonderful and I enjoyed the painting.

All the best.
Guy

Gillian Olson said...

Thanks for sharing the painting, lots going on there to be sure. That owl is beautiful.

Elaine said...

Amazing feather patterns. What a great opportunity RAPTOR provides to be able to study these birds up close, something you would never have the chance to do in the wild. Very interesting post!

Randy Emmitt said...

Kelly,
Amazing detail in these photos! Learned a bit more about owls here, thanks. You know my first Barn Owl was seen along a driveway to a house over looking the Ohio River in Cincy, many years ago.

Julie Hargreaves said...

Your paintings are fabulous and storm is such a beautiful owl

Roy said...

A very strong and dramatic painting Kelly.
Such love photos as well of my favourite Owl.

Mary said...

Storm is so beautiful! How nice that he got put in a painting by a very talented artist.

Banjo52 said...

That's one amazing animal, Kelly, and I haven't even read the fine print (links) yet. Your photos do wonders with contrasting extremely sharp focus against softer, somewhat unfocused features. I think that makes the shots better as art, AND it highlights the owl's beauty.

Giselle Koo said...

You have the most wonderful art and photography!

Chris said...

Wonderful post Kelly and it is nice to know that one of your picture has been used for the painting (which I like also)...

Tammie Lee said...

Kelly, your photos of Storm are beautiful as can be!!!
thank you also for introducing us to this wonderful artist.
i so enjoyed your post.
lovely towards the end of summer to you ~

Hilke Breder said...

Amazing images, Kelly. Such delicate patterns and colors!

Debbie Miller @HooootOwl said...

Such beautiful images of Storm! A stunning owl!

Kelly said...

...thank you everyone! You are always so kind. Photograph Storm is a wonderful experience. Her feathers are so pretty. The soft caramels and whites blend perfectly, and she puts on quite a show by stretching out her good wing. Owls are among my favorite birds (maybe because I'm a night owl myself), and seeing one up close is such a thrill.

Mary Chiaramonte's paintings are so interesting. I love how she includes nature in her artwork. I'm so happy she picked Storm as a subject in one of her paintings! Be sure to visit her site.

Sublime Birdy said...

Storm is a lucky girl and you are a lucky one too to be able to get a chance to photograph her. Thank you for doing what you do and sharing these beautiful pictures!

Sublime Birdy said...

Btw Kelly, have you ever had the chance to photograph a Screech Owl? We had one living in a tree outside my kids bedrooms when they were young, ages 4 & 6 and it spooked them with its call at night. Later, I brought them to an owl show and when they brought out the little guy we giggled and giggled when seeing how small it was and that it wasn't ghostly at all! One came back just this summer and my son took a few days to perfect its call but he could never get the elusive bird to respond back.

Kelly said...

Sublime....yes, I have. I've painted one too. They are so cute. I love the sounds they make too. Nothing at all like a screech!! :-) You're so lucky one lived outside your kids' window!!