The Chauvet Owl

A recent encounter with a beautiful but elusive creature in the wonderful World of Owls in Randalstown Forest reminded me of a striking solitary figure I once saw engraved in the dark recesses of a cave in the Ardèche region of southern France. This is the 30,000 year old Chauvet owl, the oldest known depiction of an owl. It is about the size of a long-eared owl, with clearly defined ear-tufts, folded wings and streaks demarcating its densely lined plumage. The intriguing aspect of the owl is that its head is seen from the front but its body from the back as if swivelling its head 180 degrees to peer into the dark and meet the gaze of the people walking towards it. The real bird must have been watched many times and its Janus nature noted by the Palaeolithic artist.

As I watched and photographed the long-eared owl displaying the same characteristics as the Chauvet owl, I wondered if I too was fulfilling a basic human need to creatively record and reproduce aspects of the surrounding world.

To view images, please go to Gallery and click on Owls thumbnail.