As a preview to the evening’s program Owl: A Year In the Lives of North American Owls by Paul Bannick, sponsored by Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, owl lovers got the rare opportunity to meet four of these elusive, nocturnal birds up close and personal at the Ida Lee Recreation Center in Leesburg recently.

Dr. Belinda Burwell of Wildlife Vet Care and three handlers brought the owls for photo ops and to answer questions about their species, welfare, and habits. From the tiny Barred Owl to the Great Horned Owl, children and adults alike were mesmerized by their beauty and presence. Selfies were taken; the most popular was with the imposing Great Horned Owl, also known as the tiger owl or hoot owl. So relaxed and natural, very quiet, he didn’t seem to mind all the attention.

Bannick is an awarding winning and nationally recognized photographer whose life has been devoted to the study of owls through photography and observation. His very informative and entertaining talk with his accompanying photographs were based on his latest book Owl: A Year In the Lives of North American Owl. This beautiful volume chronicles 19 species found in Canada and the United States with an emphasis on the Northern Pygmy-Owl, Great Gray Owl, Burrowing Owl, and the Snowy Owl.

Owl is a stunning follow-up to Bannick’s bestselling title, The Owl and the Woodpecker, giving bird lovers yet another gorgeous photographic tribute, engaging natural history, and a compelling call to preserve the habitats that sustain these iconic birds.

Being able to look into the eyes of these magnificent creatures is very special, thanks to Dr. Burwell and her team it was worth venturing out into frigid temperatures. Dr. Burwell’s Wildlife Veterinary Care provides free veterinary care to sick and injured wildlife, monitors wildlife and environmental health, and educates about wildlife and environmental issues. This show-and-tell was a marvelous way of reaffirming the importance of our feathered friends in our lives and environment, especially to the many youngsters who were there with their families.

If you have a wildlife emergency, call Wildlife Veterinary Care at 540-664-9494 for instructions and guidance, and visit www.WildlifeVetCare.com to learn more about Dr. Burwell and her staff’s dedication to caring for sick and injured wildlife. Follow her on her Facebook page for updates on her patients, details about their species, care, and prognosis, as well as when the feathered patients are released back into the wild.

Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy (www.LoudounWildlife.org) is a passionate group of volunteers who share a common goal of protecting and perpetuating natural habitats for the benefit of both people and wildlife. Volunteer and financial support of both of these organizations are always welcome!

Give a hoot, and you’ll get a hoot. Hoo-Hoo-Hoo-Hoo!