Bird Enchantment


“Comet”, a Screech Owl

Comet was the tiniest of the birds I made the acquaintance of this weekend at Santa Rosa’s Bird Rescue Center’s open house.  I was attending the first of the Birding Sketchbook series led by Jonqui Albin, Bird Activist/Action Artist.  We were shown the basics of action-drawing birds and set loose among the hawks, falcons, owls and kestrals that were brought out of their cages on the arms of trained volunteers.  A strong wind was blowing and the birds were clearly delighted to be out (if not exactly free to fly around!)


“Aurora”, Red Tailed Hawk

We were given a pencil to lightly sketch in the gesture of the bird before going in with pen. The wind blew the birds wings open.  What a thrill to be 4 feet away from the wingspan of maybe 5 feet across! And the eyes. . .at once beguiling and unnerving.


“Wowl”, Horned Owl

Wowl would win any bird beauty pageant with those eyes and tawny plumage and especially with his handler, a young woman with a man of her own firey red plumage!


“Vihar”, Great Horned Owl

I’m sure you’re wondering, as we did, if these magnificent birds would again fly free.  They are after all rescued birds, not zoo animals.  They live in lovely spacious cages but will never be able to survive in the wild because of disabilities (little Comet is blind in one eye for instance) or imprinting to a human. Actually I think the imprinting happens both ways.  They handlers seemed to have a love affair with their feathered friends.

And after 2 1/2 hours of bird company I was sufficiently enamored to be contemplating volunteering, if not at least returning on a regular basis (the Bird Rescue Center has open houses twice a month!) to sketch, or maybe just to gaze into those mesmerizing eyes.



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