Owls of the Algarve at Galeria Côrte-Real

Carved from local wood, Phillip Quererel has a remarkable ability to recreate the forms and feathers of various Algarve owls. Displayed at Galeria Côrte-Real on the outskirts of Paderne, the owners of the gallery are avid conservationists.

“We are well aware that in many parts of Europe owls are in decline due to the use of pesticides, loss of habitat and nesting sites,” says Pedro Côrte-Real. “In the Algarve we are more fortunate as many pairs of Tawny and Barn owls continue to breed, but by far the most successful local owl is the mocho-galego.”

Familiarly known in English as the little owl, these predators are frequently seen in daylight hours sitting on bare tree branches and telephone wires, or swooping through the fields at night.

At this time of year, the pair bond between owls is established. The loud shrieks of a little owl will likely be a male bird advertising his territory to any passing females. Once one is attracted she will be shown potential residences in old trees or amongst piles of stones.

Tawny owls that hoot rather than shriek favour thick deciduous forests in which to build their nests.

In the case of barn owls – also known as screech owls – the females will be shown a variety of ruined buildings. They must have several entrances and exits and be located in a peaceful area. By February, the selection process is usually done and the female barn owl will by now be building a nest from regurgitated pellets of food.

Little owls and tawny owls prefer to sit in and clean their nest holes. Throughout this period, attentive male owls bring tasty morsels of food, mostly small rodents and sometimes birds or even bats. A month or so of this courtship feeding and allopreening establish the individual birds as a couple. Distinctively singing their duet, the female tawny owl will call out ‘too-wit’ and the male replies ‘too-woo’.

These behaviours are going on around us now and during this period of seduction the owls are looking handsome. The frivolities will be over once the eggs are laid and the chicks are hatched; the adult birds worn out looking after their demanding brood.

Looking magnificent with their plumage and haunting eyes, Phillip’s owls are winter owls, appearing at their romantic best.

Visit Côrte-Real’s new Pop-Up Gallery located above the estate agents ‘Fine and Country,’ in Rua do Barranco in the centre of Carvoeiro,.

The main gallery ‘Galeria Côrte-Real’ is signposted from Boliqueime, Ferreiras and Paderne. It is open Thursday to Sunday, 11am until 5pm.
912 737 762 | www.corterealarte.com

By Carolyn Kain

Photo: Winter owls on display at Galeria Côrte-Real