The Ural Owls of Sven Začek

These images are stunning.

Breathtaking, no?

They’re the work of Estonian wildlife photographer Sven Začek, whose spectacular images are growing rapidly obligatory/ubiquitary on my computer desktop. That last shot of the Ural Owl staring straight into the camera as it zooms past is my personal favorite, both as an amateur photographer (whose mind is boggled by how hard it must have been to get that shot) and as an office worker (whose attention sometimes wanders and can use a bit of a visual jolt to get me back on track from time to time). It’s currently serving as my wallpaper, and there have been any number of times where I’ve snapped back to reality because I feel as though someone is watching me and my inattention like a hawk. …or at least like a strigiformes of some sort.

When I first saw that “Watcher on the Wing” shot, I immediately went searching for more, quickly turning up the work Začek did for a short piece on Ural Owls that appeared in the June, 2012 edition of National Geographic. (Reading the feature articles requires a free account, for some reason, but it’s most definitely worth it. Head on over to the 2010 “European Wildlife” piece when you’re done. More amazing work from  Začek and others there.)

The young hunter was stalking moose in a frigid Estonian forest when he found himself locked in the sights of another creature: a Ural owl. He looked into her ebony eyes and softly fringed, heart-shaped face. Sven Začek was smitten.

Be sure to check out his site. The owls are my favorites, but that’s sort of a primus inter pares thing. There isn’t a bad picture in the lot.

Image Credits to …wait for it… Sven Začek. Now get over there and check ‘em out!

About Joseph Susanka

Joseph has been doing development work for institutions of Catholic higher education since graduating from Thomas Aquinas College in 1999. A grateful resident of Wyoming, he spends his free time exploring the beautiful Wind River Mountains, keeping track of his (currently) seven sons, being amazed by his (currently) lone daughter, and thanking his lucky stars for Netflix.

  • MeanLizzie

    Owls are so beautiful!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/summathissummathat Joseph Susanka

      Those faces are amazing, aren’t they, Lizzie?

      Also, I’m not sure that top one is actually an Ural. But it was such a great picture, I didn’t have the heart to leave it out.

  • Nordog6561

    That lens probably costs more than my truck.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/summathissummathat Joseph Susanka

      …and perhaps even more than either of us will make in our entire careers, NorDog.

      • Nordog6561

        Keep the faith Joseph, we’ll get there.

        I haven’t given up hope that I’ll not only make that much, but that I’ll have enough left over to buy that lens for my camera!

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/summathissummathat Joseph Susanka

          Even in my wildest dream, NorDog, it’s still an either/or. But that’s probably because the boys suck such an enormous chunk away in food costs.

  • Joe

    These are awesome! None of the above are Urals, though! The striking-faced ones are Great Grey owls, and the one on top is a Snowy.


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