Prey

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

'Sooty' Lesser Sooty Owl

'Sooty' Lesser Sooty Owl

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

'Sooty' Lesser Sooty Owl 2014 ©Leila Jeffreys

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Someone must have told Sooty I was coming to take her portrait because she definitely enrolled into modelling school in preparation! As well as being drop dead gorgeous, she’d obviously been doing some serious grooming; and when it came to the photo shoot she was like a seasoned professional. She would hold a pose so I could take her portrait, and as soon as I did she would change her position, striking a new exquisite pose for the next shot. This went on and on, making me laugh because she was so easy to work with – I couldn’t believe it.

Perhaps Sooty was a natural because she’s so used to attention. She is a resident at Eagle Heritage in Margaret River and an ambassador for native Australian owls. Phil Pain uses Sooty for educational purposes, taking her to conservation functions and schools so that the next generation can experience her wonderment.

Appreciating that it’s hard to be motivated to protect a species you’ve never met, Phil allows people to get up close to Sooty, and I’ve personally witnessed the delight she brings to people young and old, and how that joyous experience translates to genuine care for wildlife.

Lesser Sooty Owls were once considered to be a sub-species of their close cousins the Sooty Owl but taxonomists have since recognised them as a distinct species. They are considered by many to be the prettiest representative of the genus Tyto (owls that have the divided heart-shape facial disc).

Lesser Sooty Owls live in the tropical rainforests of North-Eastern Queensland. They are unable to build a true nest and instead depend on tree crevices to roost in.

They have the most amazing call described as the sound of a “falling bomb”.