Local natural history museum gallery now housing gallery of owl paintings over 300 years old


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Front of the Santa Barbara Museume of Natural History Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Recently, Santa Barbara’s Natural History Museum announced a new exhibit: owl paintings collected from the past 300 years. These paintings depict a wide variety of owls in different poses, each one unique in its own way. These birds were quite the fascination for early scientists as they were renowned for their silent hunting and coloration.

Strigiformes, otherwise known as owls, are a form of a nocturnal bird of prey that can be found in every continent except Antarctica. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, some are smaller than a ruler, while others can be up to 28 inches in height. A feature they are known for is their hunting style, specifically their ability to travel through the air without making a sound. This is achieved by the natural formation of their feathers which are shaped like the teeth of a comb. In addition, the scale of their wingspan allows them to fly for longer distances with fewer beats of their wings as supposed to their cousin, the nightjar, allowing for almost silent flight.

We know as much as we do now in part because of those artists and scientists who made paintings for this study of owls. They brought to life images of animals that not many had seen before and discovered a little bit more of their world through the pursuit of knowledge and study of natural life. And now anyone can see what early scientists and scientific illustrators saw and recorded in the name of science.
Anyone who wishes to learn more about the exhibit can do so by visiting the Santa Barbara Museum of History’s official page at this link: https://www.sbnature.org/visit/exhibitions/85/a-parliament-of-owls

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