Barred Owl in Flight

I captured this Barred Owl back in March at a local wildlife refuge.

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

I like the natural look to the background, but is it too busy?

Any pertinent technical details:

1DX, EF 100-400mm vers.II at 400mm, handheld
ISO800, 1/2500, f5.6

Matt: Nice capture of the owl in flight. Too bad the eyes aren’t more wide open. Looks like a blink.
Background: Yes, natural, but also distracting. To answer questions like your’s I always ask myself if I were a painter, would I have painted in that background or would I have done something different. Of course as photographers we don’t have that luxury, but it is still a reasonable litmus test to think about when looking at images.

Matt, I’d be happy to get a Barred Owl in flight, never have as they’re always perched and/or well hidden from me. You’ve got a lot going on in the BG, but of course it’s a common habitat for this species. A little burning in of the lighter vine behind the wing I think would be an improvement.

HI Matt
You have a great looking Barred Owl. I agree with Bill lowering the light level of the tree would help your photograph.

Hi Matt. I have a couple of Red-tailed Hawk images with a very similar background. It’s tough to work with and you have the added challenge of having some fairly bright areas in the background that really draw the eye. I think if you select the background, you might be able to lower the contrast then dim the whole thing a bit. You might also reduce the saturation and/or add a bit of blur to it. Excellent job on the owl.