Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Owls and People: Barn Owls

Barn Owl by R Hollands

Only twice so far, in the years that I have lived in my house near the river, have I seen the actual owls that visit my backyard. The glimpses I got weren’t enough to tell me which species graced my backyard but I suspect they were both Barn Owls.

The Sooty and the Barking Owls are both greyish. Both my visitors were creamy white in the glare of my torch. With not very clearly defined masked faces when the Masked Owls do have clearly defined masks.

Barn Owls are a cosmopolitan species, they occur all over the world. As they name implies they are as happy making themselves at home in a human habitation, in a roof space or unused barn, as they are in a nest hollow. I expect that these birds will acclimatise themselves to nest-boxes very easily. 

I suspect they visit often. That one time I saw the smaller visitor take off from its perch on the rain gauge, the top of the gauge came off as the owl’s feet released their hold.

Now, whenever in the morning the gauge’s funnel top is lying on the grass, I know I have had a visitor. Barn Owls fly in the depths of the night. Their facial structuring collects sound and funnels it to their ears. Barn Owls and Masked Owls can hunt by star light. 

The larger visitor perches on the stem of the dead tree fern. It’s higher than the rain gauge and oversees a larger field of prospective food animals, mice and rats, scampering across the yard. 

If you have any dead trees or stumps in your yard, leave them up as long as they stay safe. They're great for birds to perch, to oversee their landscape. Go the POZIBLE Nest-boxes for Owls Project!

Barn Owl Flying, D Pearce

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