Angell’s new book documents owl family

  • By Gale Fiege Herald Writer
  • Friday, April 17, 2015 3:53pm
  • Life

For 25 years, artist-naturalist Tony Angell followed the lives of generations of a Western screech owl family living in a nesting box just outside a window in his Lake Forest Park home.

Angell kept a record of his close observations and he sketched the small, gray owls. Now, the Yale University Press has published his book “The House of Owls,” the result of his journals and illustrations.

At the same time, Seattle’s prestigious Foster/White Gallery, which has long represented Angell, is exhibiting about 20 of his stone and bronze owl sculptures along with original drawings from the book through May 2 at 220 Third Ave. S.

The sculptor, 74, is the author and illustrator of numerous books about art and natural history. He served as the supervisor of environmental education for the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction for more than 30 years while also maintaining an award-winning career as a professional artist. His sculptures are in numerous public collections throughout the state.

“I find it very gratifying that people will approach me and reference a sculpture, sometimes not even knowing that it’s mine,” Angell said. “I have a piece in an oncology unit that has a patina formed from all the hands that have touched it. That is meaningful.”

Angell will talk about owls and his new book at 7 p.m. April 23 in the auditorium at the Northwest Stream Center in McCollum Park, 600 128th St. SE, Everett. Reserve a seat by calling 425-316-8592. Angell also is scheduled to speak at 7 p.m. April 30 at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park.

Angell’s owls hunted, foraged, serenaded, courted, nested, raised families and exercised their inquisitive natures, he said. Over the years, Angell formed a deep respect for these urban forest creatures and their challenging lives.

Angell plans to talk about characteristics that distinguish owls from other bird species and an overview of how owls have influenced human culture.

“We are thrilled to have Tony Angell back again at the Northwest Stream Center,” said Tom Murdock, the Adopt A Stream Foundation director. “Not only is Tony a great artist and author, but he is an eloquent and moving speaker.”

Angell also will offer detailed scientific descriptions of the 19 species of owls found in North America, Murdock said.

“It’s not the first time I’ve written about owls,” Angell said. “But the ones that lived in the owl house were pretty unique. I wrote about their activities through the course of the year. I would watch them during the day out the window and then take a flashlight outside at night.”

The experience of watching the owls was a gift to Angell and his family, he said.

“We figure about 52 individual owlets were raised there, and they revealed to us a complexity of nature that we may have otherwise missed,” Angell said. “We became very attached to the owls and realized that what made it possible for them to live there was the same thing that made it possible for us.”

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; Twitter: @galefiege.

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