Jane Cordery, an art teacher in Hampshire, discovered this detailed bird portrait in her attic after attempting to clean the space for a plumber. She'd never seen the ornate owl, but the painting's intricate brushwork caught her eye and she decided to e-mail a photograph of the find to Christie's auction house. According to the Daily Mail, One look at the owl and art expert Brandon Lindberg knew that that the work was worth much more than anyone suspected.
The auction house determined that the painting, titled "The White Owl," was created by pre-Raphaelite artist William James Webbe, and experts valued the work at £70,000 ($113,449). Beyond the British masterpiece's hefty price tag, it was also revealed that the UK's Royal Society had exhibited the owl in the mid 19th century, exposing the piece to leading art critic, John Ruskin, who described it as "a careful study" with excellent brown wings.
The attic artwork hit Christie's auction block last week (December 2012), far outselling its estimated price -- the winning bid was £589,250 ($951,050). Cordery maintains that she had never even seen the painting before her impromptu winter cleaning, while her partner, James Ravenscroft, remembers receiving the work as a present from his mother. "It's a complete shock," Cordery told the Daily Pioneer after the sale. "We were not imagining that in our wildest dreams.”
In conjunction with students from U.C. Davis and Cosumnes River College, barn owl researcher Mark Browning has been conducting a cutting edge research project on a California vineyard to determine how dense of a population of barn owls could be attracted to a small parcel of land, and what the suppressive effect the owls would have on the local rodent population. In 2010, the 100 acre vineyard attracted 11 pairs of owls that fledged 40 young (62 birds total); and in 2011, 17 out of the 25 available nest boxes became occupied by breeding pairs. These pairs fledged 66 young for a total of 100 owls living on a scant 100 acres, an astounding density of barn owls. Here is a Public Broadcasting Service segment on the project:
Submitted by Sharmila Runa Green: I used to live in Kathmandu, Nepal. These owlets use to snuggle up in the chimney vent opposite my kitchen window, so they would normally be fast asleep! I was thrilled to have this opportunity, as now I live in Central London and don't get to see these cute little friends!
During the day I would put out the washing and notice one or two sitting asleep on a branch very close as this could be seen from the rooftop. I believe they were very good luck almost protective.
I used to live in Kerala also where an owl use to sit outside my sons room - I always felt safe and a sense of peace they are such beautiful birds.
[Note from owlpages.com - These owls are Spotted Owlets Athene brama]