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Friday, June 24, 2016

Barn Owl

Photo Credit: Magnus Manske
The barn owl is a silent nocturnal hunter. It has such an acute sense of hearing that it can pinpoint the exact location of its prey even on the darkest night.

A change of climate in the northern regions of the barn Owl's habitat is causing snow to last for longer periods in winter. Bad weather plays a significant part in reducing the numbers of this attractive nocturnal bird.

Barn owls prefer a warm climate with mild winters. They don't, like many other birds, store extra fat in their tissues to help them survive harsh winter weather, so many die during freezing weather or are too exhausted in the spring to breed.

Although barn owls mate for life, they hunt alone. The barn owl's eyes are specially adapted to detect movement in grassland; they have extra light-sensitive rods and cones in the retinas, and their cylindrical shape produces accurate telescopic vision. In the dark the barn owl relies almost totally on its acute hearing.

Mice, voles, and shrews are the owl's staples, but it will also catch other small rodents, sparrows, and bats. When other food is scarce, barn owls will eat frogs and large insects.

Did you know?
  • Barn owls don't "hoot" like other owls. They make a hoarse "khurrew" noise. 
  • In Malaysia, where barn owls were introduced to control plagues of rats, each barn owl family killed about 1,300 rats a year. 
  • Adult owls swallow prey whole and head first. To feed their young, they grip the prey with their feed and tear it into small pieces that the owlets can swallow.

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