Long-eared Owl - Asio Otis

Well hello! Happy Monday. Yep, been a bit since the last post, right? I've been up to my neck with this book illustration job. I wish I could share the details of it with you, but it's top secret, so I have to keep my yapper shut for now. Despite the pile of deadlines, I have been able to eek out a few watercolors. This one of some Long-eared Owls is the latest. It's a painting I did for a friend, but it will be available in my online stores as a giclee print this weekend.

I've been wanting to do this image for a couple of years now. If you're a Chicago resident you may recall when a couple of winters ago, a group of male Asio Otis roosted in a cluster of pine trees in a South Loop school yard. It was truly a magical scene. I don't normally use "magical" to describe things, but it was just that; a mysterious visitation. The owls, sometimes numbering up to 13, roosted during the day in a small grouping of pines. Us urban humans came by to gawk, and they in turn seemed not the least bit disturbed by it. They slept, stretched, and yawned through it all, and then, just like that they left. They roosted there for several weeks. It's not unsual for male Long-eared owls to form these sort of winter "support" groups. As far as that specific location, one theory was that there was good hunting along an unused rail line near the school; rats, rabbits, mice etc. Whatever the reason, to many of us that went to observe, it seemed like a blessing from Mother Nature.


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