Gorgeous owl photos: can you name the species?

Owls, of course, are Honorary Cats™, as they are the most feline of birds. The latest issue of Audubon magazine has a nice article highlighting the owl pictures of photographer Brad Wilson (you must go to his webpage and see his other animal photos!). From the article:

Wilson is an expert at point-blank portraits. His series “Affinity” features 65 species, including a white rhino, a white tiger, an Arctic fox, and an Egyptian Vulture. But owls were the most compelling and challenging subjects, he says. It takes years of building mutual trust before an owl will accept physical contact from a single person, says Wilson, and “owls don’t extend that privilege to other humans.”

Wilson wanted his images to accentuate the nobility and independence of each captive bird, minimizing its dependence on its caretaker. Many had wing injuries, for example, which he concealed in his pictures. The owls’ human perches likewise hid themselves, contorting their bodies to stay out of the frame. It was a gesture to the birds, a way of saying that although their wild days are behind them, they still have their dignity.

Here are some of Wilson’s owl photos. How many can you identify? After you try (I got two), go over to the Audubon page and read about each owl.

1_PSWesternScreechOwl2-1

PSBarnOwl1

PSEurasianEagleOwl1

This owl looks like a fox!

PSEasternScreechOwl1

This owl is adorable:

PSFlammulatedOwl1

PSGreatHornedOwl3

This owl is scary:

PSLongEaredOwl1

This owl is another cute one:

PSMexicanSpottedOwl1

And this is the most striking owl of all:

PSSpectacledOwl1

 

 

48 Comments

  1. Posted February 9, 2015 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    Bottom one looks like a Spectacled Owl from my part of the world. Wonder how it got there?

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted February 9, 2015 at 9:11 am | Permalink

      It also looks like it has been knitted.

  2. Benjamin Branham
    Posted February 9, 2015 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    The last one is plotting the photographer’s demise.

  3. GBJames
    Posted February 9, 2015 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    Awesome.

    I mean…. Owlsome!

    • JohnnieCanuck
      Posted February 9, 2015 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

      Amazing, how close to the edge some people like to go.

  4. Jeff Rankin
    Posted February 9, 2015 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Superb Owl* Monday – love it!

    * stolen from another commenter

  5. darrelle
    Posted February 9, 2015 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Wonderful portraits. I think my favorite is the profile.

    The owls that have all black eyes, are their pupils merely dilated so much that the iris is not visible, or is their iris just that dark? They look like aliens!

    • Posted February 9, 2015 at 9:01 am | Permalink

      And you can see Mr. Wilton’s reflection in all but the profile shot!

      I’m pretty sure the black is a dilated iris. Owls have a remarkable range of dilation. Also, I just read that there are species whose eyes account for 5% of their body weight: so imagine, a 100 kg man would have two 2.5 kg eyes, each more than a large soda bottle in weight!

  6. Delphin
    Posted February 9, 2015 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Wow, are those ever spectacular.

    • Posted February 9, 2015 at 9:04 am | Permalink

      They sure are – and the spectacled one at the bottom has a spectacular ‘fro!

      • JoanL
        Posted February 9, 2015 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

        The ‘fro – that’s why I felt an immediate affinity. Just emailed that one to my daughter, captioned: Who knew? When I’m angry, I’m an owl.

  7. Posted February 9, 2015 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Top to bottom, Western Screech, Barn, Eurasian Eagle, Eastern Screech, Flammulated, (scary) Great Horned, Long-Eared, Mexican Sootted, and Lou Jost’s Spectacled.

    I think the barn owl wants to be your Valentine, Mr. Mouse … !

    • Posted February 9, 2015 at 9:14 am | Permalink

      Spotted, obviously, not Sootted.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted February 9, 2015 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      I’m still watching from time to time the Savannah Great Horned owl on owl cam – link on Jerry’s post about Thursday last week. She’s feeding owlets that hatched the day he put the link up. It’s fantastic.

  8. Posted February 9, 2015 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Owls seem to have the most front-set eyes of any bird. I wonder if that’s part of why we find them so beguiling.

    • John Scanlon, FCD
      Posted February 11, 2015 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      Look at an owl skull some time (I did a couple of days ago, maybe first time close up). The back of the orbit is nearly flat, which means the eyes can’t swivel much if at all (do they have saccades? – yes, but by moving the whole head rather than just the eyes). If they look at you, they’re really looking AT you, no sidelong glances.

      • Posted February 11, 2015 at 9:43 am | Permalink

        Yes, exactly. And it’s piercing! Thinking of Hawks and Eagles, I reckon the degree of side-ness, if you will, of bird eyes is proportionate to the degree they are the hunted. Look at Diana’s dove posted today: looking straight at the camera, yet beak 90° away: that bird is on the lookout for a bird on the lookout for lunch!

  9. Diana MacPherson
    Posted February 9, 2015 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    The sixth owl looks shocked. Like it is saying, “you did what?!”

  10. Randy Schenck
    Posted February 9, 2015 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    All I can say is keep your cats away from them unless you have said good bye to the cat.

  11. Posted February 9, 2015 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    🐾🐾

  12. Greg senski
    Posted February 9, 2015 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    The last one looks like Groucho Marx. I wonder if the resemblance is superficial.

  13. Kevin
    Posted February 9, 2015 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    The grey one is a grey owl. 🙂

    Amazing pics.

  14. Posted February 9, 2015 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Not what they seem…

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted February 9, 2015 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

      Ha! Took a long time for the pop-culture reference to pop up…

  15. Posted February 9, 2015 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    I bet THEY could spot the nightjar.

  16. Sarah
    Posted February 9, 2015 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Those ear-like feathers that some of them have–are those actual structures (or ears) or are they just a quirky arrangement of feathers?

  17. Don Quijote
    Posted February 9, 2015 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Where’s the Teat Owl?

    • Simon Hayward
      Posted February 9, 2015 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      🙂

  18. Posted February 9, 2015 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    I couldn’t resist… from my “interspecies love” collection:

    • still learning
      Posted February 9, 2015 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

      Awwww! They’re great.

    • Posted February 9, 2015 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, I needed that!

  19. livinginabox
    Posted February 9, 2015 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    If it’s owls versus cats, for me, it’s owls, every time.

  20. Catherine
    Posted February 9, 2015 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    The last one looks quite angry.

  21. Posted February 9, 2015 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    If owls are honorary cats (and they are), then I vote for the Eurasian Eagle Owl as the honorary Snow Leopard of owls. Ever since I saw one at the Central Park Zoo, this has been my favorite owl, and possibly my favorite bird. They’re HUGE! This is definitely the big cat version of the owl.

  22. Ginger K.
    Posted February 9, 2015 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    If you look on Twitter, the #SuperbOwl was trending to circumvent the NFL’s registered trademark of Super Bowl. So may gorgeous owl pix! I think Jon Stewart started this on the Daily Show a couple of years ago. These are gorgeous also! KD

    A day wifowt kittehs iz a day wifowt sunshine. — Dr Jerry Coyne, translated into LOLCat by Ginger K. Eben teh smallest kitteh iz a masterpeece. — Leonardo da Vinci, translated into LOLCat by Ginger K.

    Date: Mon, 9 Feb 2015 14:16:18 +0000 To: gvicious@hotmail.com

  23. Brygida Berse
    Posted February 9, 2015 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    I know they are Honorary Cats and all, but their beaks scare me.

    • Posted February 9, 2015 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      Unless you are a mouse, or a vole, or any other small mammal, you have nothing to fear. 🙂

      • Posted February 9, 2015 at 11:58 am | Permalink

        Nothing to fear from their beaks, that is. Their claws will go right through your hand or eye. A famous bird photographer lost an eye that way.

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted February 9, 2015 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

      Some of those beaks look like Georgia O’Keefe skulls.

  24. rickflick
    Posted February 9, 2015 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Great shots.

  25. Mike Paps
    Posted February 9, 2015 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    When I was about 15 (40 years ago) I would have been easily able to name them all. Now I only recognize the Barn. I was also fairly confident the one below it (3rd) was the Great horned, but ManOutOfTime says it’s Eurasian Eagle, and the 6th down is the Great horned. I’m not yet convinced I’m the one who has them backwards.

    • Posted February 9, 2015 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      The eagle owl, Bubo bubo, has orange irises, the horned owl, Bubo virginianus, has yellow irises.

  26. Marella
    Posted February 9, 2015 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    Evocative photos; when an owl looks at you, you’ve really been LOOKED at!

    • John Scanlon, FCD
      Posted February 11, 2015 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      (You got there first, my latecomer comment is above)

  27. Posted February 9, 2015 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    Exquisite. Wish I could take photos like that.

  28. JoanL
    Posted February 9, 2015 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    Superlative!

  29. marksolock
    Posted February 10, 2015 at 12:14 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Mark Solock Blog.


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