HIGH SOCIETY Exhibition Sydney October New York November

Prey - exhibited 2014

Leila Jeffreys 'Prey' series was exhibited at Purdy Hicks London and Olsen Gallery Sydney. Each large scale photograph features a portrait of bird of prey

'Jeda' Sooty owl

'Jeda' Sooty owl


Photograph on archival fibre based cotton rag paper
112 x 89 cm, 44 x 35 inch (standard)

'Jeda’ Sooty owl 2014 ©Leila Jeffreys

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For a nocturnal creature, Jeda surprised me by being a bundle of energy. Generally speaking, owls tend not to move around much, but Jeda was very active, always on the prowl and facing different directions. She was very alert and listened to me talking to her as I took her portrait.

Sooty Owls have a wide range of calls. One which took me by surprise was so pretty, a soft chirruping trill.

Although listed as ‘vulnerable’, Sooty Owls are found in small populations throughout southern Queensland, coastal NSW and down to Victoria, living in temperate rainforest and eucalypt forests. They can live for many decades, and mate for the life of a partner.

Jeda is a resident at Broadwings on Queensland’s Gold Coast. She came in with an eye injury and has been deemed non-releasable, so is now in permanent care.

Broadwings is just one of the many wildlife networks that I’ve had the privilege to work with during this project. In Sydney where I live, I have seen different stages of treatment, from critical care where wildlife vets and nurses treat animals with serious injuries, to Sydney Wildlife and WIRES with their network of volunteers taking calls as well as caring for and rehabilitating injured animals for release back into the wild.

Another impressive facility is the Wildlife Care Centre at the John Morony Correctional Complex in Berkshire Park that looks after injured animals prior to release, as well as those in permanent care.

This is a correctional facility for female offenders, who, as part of their own rehabilitation, are given the opportunity to work with animals at the massive wildlife care centre on prison grounds.

I have visited this centre – the largest of its kind in NSW – several times now to take photographs of the animals, and am very impressed at the extraordinary set-up. There are wallabies, emus, kangaroos, possums, bats, snakes, lizards and of course a wide variety of birds including birds of prey.

In meeting some of the female offenders, I saw firsthand how they bonded with the animals, giving them purpose during their incarceration as well as providing care for the animals and a chance for them to recover.