While I've read many bird books I hadn't previously seen
one specifically about OWLS: OUR MOST ENCHANTING BIRD. The whimsical
portraits and awesome list of abilities mix well
to create a sumptuous account in this illustrated book by
artist Matt Sewell. So, what makes owls so special?
Matt says he likes owls because they are easy to draw. They
are also, of course, night hunters, silent in flight,
strong predators of vermin, with shrill or blood-curdling
cries. They have reputations as witches' familiars,
foretelling of ill fate, and wizardly post deliverers. Matt
tells us first about the forest owls, such as the large
white-faced Barn Owl, but he makes it clear that his
admiration partly stems from this bird species' ability to
adapt to environments including deserts, tundra and
The Little Owl was the companion of the Greek goddess
Athena. This is how the owl acquired the supposed virtue of
wisdom. Matt acknowledges that parrots and crows are much
smarter. There is still debate over whether the Long-Eared
Owl from Eurasia is the close cousin of the Striped Owl,
which has similar long ears but lives in South America.
Probably genetic testing will tell us whether the two
developed long ears independently. Meanwhile we can enjoy
the quirky pictures of them and make up our own minds. Each
bird is portrayed with character, from haughtiness to
scruffiness, and this makes it easier to distinguish them.
Some of these birds are endangered - Matt makes the wry
observation that if the Jamaican Owl was as popular as
reggae it wouldn't be on the endangered species list.
Deforestation and mining are destroying the habitat of the
Giant Scops Owl in the Philippines. Other exotic owls in
far-flung locations wear a mane, a pair of spectacles,
bushy eyebrows, a bandito mask, fiery streaks, fluffy
boots, snow-coloured plumage or black and white garb. We
learn that there is a Brown Fish Owl which hunts fish for a
living, while Central American birds eat cicadas.
The language itself is pictorial in this entertaining book,
with one owl the all-seeing head of the totem pole while
others are praised for their soundless hunting or perfect
camouflage. Whether you're looking at the Elf Owl
inhabiting saguaro cactus for lack of trees, or the mighty
Eagle Owl, you can't help enjoying every colourful page of
OWLS by Matt Sewell. I love this book, I love the art and
the birds and the text. We learn fascinating condensed
facts - including that the Omani Owl has only just been
discovered by science. Well done to the artist and author,
who is clearly a bird lover, and I expect anyone young and
old who likes birds would be overjoyed to find OWLS: OUR
MOST ENCHANTING BIRD in their Christmas stocking.
In this beautiful follow-up to OUR GARDEN BIRDS, OUR SONGBIRDS and OUR WOODLAND BIRDS,
street artist Matt Sewell captures the world's most evocative bird: the owl.
In his much-loved pop-art watercolours and accompanied with his whimsical descriptions, Matt
Sewell expresses the individual characters of owls as never before. From tiny Elf Owls to huge Eagle
Owls, from the mysterious creatures of the night to an impossibly fluffy baby owl, they are
undoubtedly one of the world's most intriguing feathered friends. These wise, magical birds are
otherworldly in their striking colours and stature, and it's not just birdwatchers who are obsessed.
With 50 hand-selected, hand-painted owls, this is a delightful gift which appeals to owl lovers, bird-
watching enthusiasts, children, adults and art and design fans alike.