Our niece, Anna asked me to do a painting of a Barn Owl for her room in her new house. I became inspired to grant her wish when I read Wesley The Owl by Stacey O”Brien. This is a book that I will always own and cherish. I gave my first copy to Annie and I will buy another to keep. It is that good. My husband Tom should really appreciate the fact that after reading about how heavenly, yet horrific it can be to raise an owl, I am not going to adopt one anytime soon. A friend just generously offered to allow me to help raise an orphaned Screech owl. Isn’t there enough screeching in this house already? Another well meaning friend has recently reminded me how much I would love an Alpaca. This is so tempting but after last week, I think I will wait til next year’s new crop. If an owlet appears on my doorstep, I think I might be in heaven, though. Just sayin’
For the last several years, I have visited the same friends in the Texas Hill Country and I still need directions. Even so, I will inevitably make a wrong turn at the last fork in the road. My favorite friend to visit is a four year old Vulture named Buffy who was orphaned and had to be hand fed and cared for until she learned to survive on her own. Even after she learned to fly and was able to soar with the other Vultures she never needed a map to find her way back to her birthplace. Our friend Bruce has a way with birds and has rescued and rehabilitated numerous species through the years. They remind me of dogs with feathers. As much as I have read about birds, especially birds of prey, I am still clueless as to how they are able to migrate. I can’t even drive to the north side of San Antonio without a map. If you call someone a birdbrain it is supposed to be an insult, but more and more I realize how fascinating and complex birds are. Two weeks ago, Buffy and another Vulture were brought here to our ranch to be released so that they would have a safe environment free of the dangers of highways and power lines. We kept them confined to the aviary for a week and then according to plan we released them hoping that they would stay within a mile or so. Not a chance…..Yesterday, my phone rang. I did not recognize the area code or number. “Buffy is here perched on my shoulder” The call was from Dave, a neighbor of Bruce’s. My little birdbrain had flown 100 miles.
There’s no place like home……
This painting is exactly what I remember from our owl sighting about two years ago. I was riding Sarita and Tom was on Francie. It was not quite dark, but two Barred owls were perched together right on the fence-line to our neighbor’s property. The only other time we saw two owls together was right when we first bought the Rockin’ P ranch in 1996. I have seen a few road kill of these barred owls because of their habit of flying and hunting at a low position, perfect target for cars. Sunday night we saw one perched beside the county road and Tom saw him early this morning again. Too far away and too dark, but he was really looking for him.
I love all birds and animals, but owls are my current obsession and here is my collection……The painting above is oil on ampersand board of two eagle Owls. Some of my other paintings are listed on Etsy and you can click here to see them at Leicalady.etsy.com
We see these Falcons hovering over our pastures and diving down at awesome speeds, doing flips and dives attacking their prey. They are flashy and beautiful and fun to watch. I am working on this pan pastel painting to add to a series of Falcon paintings that will be part of a fund raiser for Last Chance Forever a rescue operation for all birds of prey…To purchase this painting or any other paintings please click here: leicalady.etsy.com Thank-you!
I forgot how wonderful our Canon 300 mm lens is, until I switched from the 70 to 210 zoom to take pictures of the Falcons that were showing off for us. They were the opening act before the fireworks display that we had later the night of the 4th of July. They knew that they would be rewarded with a treat left on the fence post…..
Our 4th Of July included a return visit from two Crested Cara Caras. Often they are waiting on the fence post for us to bring them a treat. We talked about our habit of feeding these raptors to our friend John Karger. John founded a refuge for injured or orphaned Birds Of Prey which includes eagles, hawks, falcons, vultures and owls. The veterinarian care and rehabilitation that they receive enables 65 to 80% of the birds that are taken in to be released back into their natural habitat. John stated that as long as we did not make a daily habit of feeding these falcons, they would not become dependent on us for their total diet. As a Veterinarian Technician and Falconer, John has provided education and awareness of these raptors through the Last Chance Forever Sanctuary since 1978. During on of our visits with John we learned that the Crested Cara Cara eat primarily carrion along side vultures, but will also hunt birds and rodents. “I give them 30 seconds before they come” Tom said yesterday when our friends were gathered around for the air show. “Chilly and Willy” as we have come to call them were nowhere in sight at this point, but it was less than a minute before they appeared to entertain us. Known as the National Bird of Mexico or the Mexican Eagle, our amigos were more than willing join in our Independence Day celebration.