Dotty Owl was born near Kelsey Creek deep in the emerald green old growth forests of the Willamette National Forest in Oregon.  Her aunts, uncles and cousins live throughout the Cascade Mountains of the Pacific Northwest and the Klamath and Northern Sierras in California.  Dotty enjoys old growth forests and young charcoal forests.  Parts of her home range burned recently and these forests now provide her with excellent hunting grounds.

Dotty’s parents had to flee after an arsonist set fire to their home forest in the early 1990s. Many believe the arsonist sought to create a reason to open the old-growth forest to destructive post-fire logging.  Locals saw the beauty in the burn and worked tirelessly to protect the forest.  Good prevailed, and the forest was never logged.  After the fire, the young forest emerged and it provided excellent habitat for Dotty and her forest friends to thrive.

Dotty has recently fledged and left the nest, and she enjoys spending time with her young friend Ember Bear.  Ember Bear has lots of interesting stories to share about her family.   Dotty especially enjoys the tales Ember tells of her great uncle Smokey Bear and her cousin Little Smokey.

The Making of Dotty

Dotty is a stop-motion animated puppet brought to life by talented and experienced film-industry artists Suzanne Moulton, Suzanne Twining and Jorge Martinez who designed and built the Dotty Owl sequences.  The team worked in collaboration with top forest scientists, experts and local citizens to bring Dotty to life through the Best Kept Secrets of Fire.  The Best Kept Secrets of Fire series was produced by National Geographic producer Trip Jennings with Balance Media in careful collaboration with Dotty’s friends throughout Oregon, Washington, California, Colorado, Montana, Idaho, Arizona, New Mexico and beyond.  This project was realized thanks to generous support from The Meyer Trust, Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation’s Environment Now Program, Lazar Foundation, Wy’East Foundation and the contributions of many experts from across the West.

Enjoy these stills of Suzanne Moulton building Dotty Owl, and enjoy more of Suzanne Moulton’s work on Instagram:

Below is a time-lapse video of Suzanne Twining animating Dotty, moving her one frame at a time to create fluid movement. What you’ll watch in seconds is Suzanne’s full eight hour work day!