TONASKET — The Iron Grill Restaurant in Tonasket now features a mural of a Great Gray Owl (Strix Nebulosa), one of the iconic species living in the Okanogan Highlands.
This mural showcases the work of two artists, muralist Andy Eccleshall of Mural Works, Inc., who applied his talent in the creation of the detailed and relistic depiction of the owl and photographer and author, Paul Bannick. Bannick took the photo the mural is based on. Bannick is the author of several informative books, including: Owl: A Year in The Lives of North American Owls.
“Driving past the Iron Grill you can feel the power of this bird in the shape of the wings and the bright, sharp eyes, but it is worth stopping and really looking at the intricate patterns of the wings and face,” said Jen Weddle, Executive Director of the Okanogan Highlands Alliance (OHA), who suggests stopping into the restaurant to have some lunch while there.
“We are grateful and excited to be part of the OHA project. We found a bird that is native to Tonasket and also to Alaska, so it subtly represents my roots in Alaska and here for my mom,” said Jocelyn Griner, owner of The Iron Grill, which is a mother-daughter business,
Great Gray Owls are one of the tallest owls in North America and well-adapted to the Okanogan Highlands. Their speckled gray feathers provide camouflage against conifer bark, their feathered legs protect them from the cold snow and their favorite foods are the abundant rodents that live in meadows and forest openings. Birders come from far and wide to try to spot the elusive Great Gray Owls that inhabit forest edges and openings in the highlands around Tonasket and Oroville.
“OHA is thrilled to bring a second nature-inspired mural to Tonasket this year. We hope that these artworks make people smile, and inspire excitement about the natural world around us. Thank you to everyone who helped make this mural a reality,” said Weddle.
The mural is painted on aluminum panels, which were installed with the help of contractor Michael Simon and his crew on Sunday, March 6.
This artwork was brought to Tonasket by Okanogan Highlands Alliance (OHA) and funded by the USDA Rural Business Development Grant, OHA, and private donations.
The Great Gray Owl is the third mural that OHA has facilitated in Tonasket. The first, painted in 2011 on the Community Cultural Center, depicts the beauty of the highlands through the seasons. The second, painted in 2021, is on the north side of the building at 311 N. Whitcomb Ave. and portrays Calliope Hummingbirds and native Columbine flowers.
OHA is a non-profit organization that works to educate the public about watershed issues, and to inspire appreciation for the natural world. For more information go to: okanoganhighlands.org