She wants to be flowers, but you make her owls. You must not complain, then, if she goes hunting.Alan Garner, The Owl Service*
Owls are hunters, birds of prey. And like all birds of prey they pursue other animals for food, something that not everyone is comfortable with. But they are also very beautiful, with delicate markings on their feathers – spots and stripes that frame their faces, adorn their wings and bodies. They are among my favourite birds.
A few years ago we visited one of several UK Birds of Prey centres. These are dotted around the country; the one we went to was in Bedfordshire north of London. There we had the opportunity to meet some of their owls, as well as other birds. We also learned to fly several of the birds of prey, including a fabulous Eagle Owl. She was majestic – and very heavy!
Here is a selection of the owl photos I took that day, shared for this week’s Bird Weekly theme of birds with stripes, spots or freckles.
* The Owl Service is a teenage fantasy novel set in Wales, based around the legend of Blodeuwedd, a woman created from flowers by Math, the king of Gwynedd. She is turned into an owl as punishment for inducing her lover to kill her husband. The story has little to do with actual owls (the owls in question are a design on a dinner service, hence the title) but I love the book and this quotation.