Bubo in Black-and-White

great horned owl on pine tree


There is a resident breeding pair of Great Horned Owls (Bubo virginianus) living right near our cabin. Over the years, this has afforded me wonderful opportunities to observe them up close and the unsurpassed thrill of watching them raise their chicks. Their hooting calls are often the last thing I hear as I drift off to sleep… “gratitude” doesn’t seem like a big enough word to express how I feel in those moments.

I wanted to share these special birds, so I selected some of my favorite photos and created this series by applying the Stamp filter in Photoshop. The finished product is simplistic, but hopefully effective in conveying their endearing personalities.


great horned owl on eucalyptus

Roosting on a eucalyptus branch.
(Many of the trees in the area were burned by wildfire which gives them a bare, but interesting artistic quality.)

juvenile great horned owl

This is one of the newly fledged juveniles — notice the almost non-existent ear tufts! (Their coloration and general shape at this age reminds me of toasted marshmallows. *grin*)


great horned owl on cypress

Perched on a burned cypress…
(I loved this tree, and so did the owls. Even though it had long ceased to be a living tree and was leaning at a rakish angle, it provided a good look-out spot for many birds and squirrels. I was sad when some high winds finally toppled it.


Harsi / February 11, 2011 / artwork, birds


  1. Chris - February 11, 2011 @ 7:02 pm

    Beautiful… love the artistic effect. And I am quite jealous of all of this wildlife you have just outside your front door! Enjoying your blog so far Harsi, looking forward to more 🙂

  2. Harsi - February 11, 2011 @ 7:40 pm

    Chris!! Thank you for your kind words and I’m so glad you like it! It’s been 6 years since we started renting our cabin here in the hills and there are still times when I feel like I need to pinch myself to make sure it’s real. I’m happy for the opportunity to get to share some of the magic of this place with my friends.

  3. Ruth - February 11, 2011 @ 8:17 pm

    Savoring all four owl images. The one with the burned cypress is my favorite; ‘reminds me of a fine woodcut.

  4. Harsi - February 11, 2011 @ 8:51 pm

    Ruth, it was my hope when I was creating these that they would be reminiscent of woodcuts. I’m so pleased that’s what you saw too! The graphic quality and strong lines of that cypress’ branches were so great for photos… one of the many burned tree-friends I have had to say good-bye to. Since you like that one, I’m e-mailing you the original photo. 🙂

  5. Cindy - February 16, 2011 @ 7:51 pm

    I really like them all, but the first image really grabs my eye and holds it.. have been hearing the mating calls of local GHO’s here, and once in awhile I’m lucky enough to have them roost near the house for a great duet. Owls rule and I love to hear them talking.

  6. Harsi - February 16, 2011 @ 10:22 pm

    Cindy, yeah, I think the first image is the strongest too — that’s why I led with it. Your artistic pieces are so fantastic, it means a lot to me that you like these. (I’ve got to get off my butt and try out some of the filtering techniques that you make such good use of.) I suspect that the mated pair of GHOs at my place have chosen to nest a bit further afield this year because I haven’t really been hearing them as much at night and usually they are quite vocal around the nest at this time of year. Maybe I’ll get lucky and that screech owl that I’ve been hearing will choose to nest near the house instead!


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