Monday, June 01, 2015

The House of Owls by Tony Angell

The owls of North America have not only been important to the career of artist and naturalist Tony Angell, they have been a great pleasure. In The House of Owls, he recounts his encounters with almost all of the species. The exception that I see upon looking back through his very personal reference guide to owls is the ferruginous pygmy owl. In his introduction to this owl that lives in Central America, Mexico and just the smallest sliver of Arizona, he tells how early twentieth century ornithologist George Sutton's saw his first ferruginous pygmy owl.

For all of the owl profiles, Angell describes range and habitat, food preferences, vocalizations, courtship and nesting, threats and conservation, and vital statistics (length, wing span, and weight). Some details seem to repeat. Owls that use cavities in trees depend on either pileated woodpeckers or northern flickers to excavate them. Most eggs hatch between 21 and 24 days after being laid. Owlets fledge at around three to four weeks and remain with their parents for a couple of months or more. Cooper's hawks prey on many of the owlets and some of the small adult owls.

Angell starts his guide to owls with a chapter recounting his raising a western screech owl. In this chapter and throughout the book he includes his own topical drawing that support the text.

The House of Owls is a delightful book that will interest birders and other amateur naturalists. More libraries should add this new book.

Angell, Tony. The House of Owls. Yale University Press, 2015. 203p. ISBN 9780300203448.

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