Birdman of Lauderdale review of Twelve Owls

TWELVE OWLS by Laura Erickson and Betsy Bowen reviewed on this ornithology blog.

Erickson_Twelve coverThis book is a high quality production: It’s printed in landscape format on high gloss paper, which allows Betsy Bowen’s paintings and sketches of owls to “pop.”

Each chapter covers one of the twelve owl species we might see here in Minnesota, starting with the smallest, the Saw-whet Owl, concluding with the Great Gray Owl. Each chapter is introduced by a life-sized painting of the owl, so as the owls get bigger, the paintings focus on the head and shoulders.

I’ve been watching birds for over twenty years, leading field trips, writing about birds and bird watching, even “talking” to owls. And yet I learned a great deal from this book.

In the Introduction, I got new insight into the importance of the owl’s noiseless flight. It’s obvious that a silent approach is essential for capturing prey. And in most cases, the owl locates prey by sound. As Laura points out, in flight, an owl’s ears are right next to their wings. Noisy wing beats would interfere with its hearing. Silence in flight is improved by stiff combs on the flight feathers that break up the airflow over the wing.


Published in: Birdman of Lauderdale