Barn owls are truly magical birds, and you captured that essence here flawlessly. The detail is mind-boggling! I love the crispness of the owl and the mouse contrasted against the simple yet effective background.
I did this a long time ago and Relly should get it back from a friend's house and rephotograph it. Back when I did I was just start to photograph my work, and had a crappy camera and didn't know the best lighting and angles to use.
I did do the owl, stump and mouse in high detail. Then I took a paint brush and the background was painted in with powdered graphite. I had to of course blow off the excess powder and touch up the edges around the detailed work. Not something I have tried again since, due mainly to the time required to do it.
Good luck on doing that .... all Owls are protected birds and you'd never find one for sale .... legally, and if you managed to snag one illegally you be ratted out eventually and get a hell of a fine and with the justice system these days, probably more jail time than a child molester. Plus you'd always have problems. Owls aren't a type of bird that can easily live in a cage nor deserves to. So I sugest that you set your sights on a parrot instead. Haha ....
Perhaps this background will come easier the second time around. ^_~ I must say that I truly admire your work. I find it hard to do realistic pictures, as you would be able to tell from my gallery. I tend to do cartoon-type animals, or anime here and there. Friends and some random people tell me my work is great, but I don't feel that way because mostly I just do fanart. I have to draw from an example, otherwise it turns out horrible. x_x
Seeing pencil or graphite drawings, like this one, helps me to better understand anatomy and where lines should be drawn. So I always enjoy pieces like this.
It's not that the background's hard ... It's messy and after spending hours on a detailed drawing ... and powdered graphite the blows over the drawing needs eraser cleaning ... it's a bit of a pain in the butt is all.