Saturday, August 13, 2016

Farmer’s Friend

For today’s post there are more Barn Owls. It’s a species which always draws positive comments from readers. 

Yesterday I visited a friend up near the town of Garstang on the edge of the Bowland hills. I stopped off to look in a location where I knew there to be Barn Owls. I quickly got lucky although the owl didn’t stay around for too long. 

Within a minute or two of flying in and then moving along the fence line and the gatepost the owl had located prey in the rough grassy field. It immediately flew with the small mammal to farm buildings 100 yards away. 

Barn Owl

The owl is more likely to be listening for prey rather than looking for it. A highly accomplished hunter, a Barn Owl’s hearing is so sharp that it can easily locate voles and shrews hidden from view as they travel in runways beneath the grass The Barn Owl can see during the day, but its relatively small eyes (for an owl) are directed forward and are better adapted for night vision. The ears are asymmetrical, one level with the nostril and the other higher, nearer the forehead. They are covered with feathered flaps that close for loud noises and open for soft sounds 

Barn Owl

For such an effective raptor the Barn Owl might seem to be highly visible to its mammal prey by way of its overall pale appearance of white underparts and pale straw/brown upperparts. The explanation is that the Barn Owl’s light brown upperparts provide camouflage amongst the rough grassland over which the owl hunts for most of the year while the white underparts make the bird less visible against a pale sky when viewed from below. 

Barn Owl

The Barn Owl Tyto alba is the most widely distributed species of owl, found in all corners of the earth and on every continent except Antarctica. Their distribution over such a wide area of the world has led to the evolution of 35 subspecies/races in Asia, America, Africa, Australia and Europe. These divergent Barn Owls have variations in overall appearance, the largest in North America weighing twice as much as the smallest from the Galapagos Islands. But wherever they live Barn Owls remain cavity nesters attracted to the structures of man, trees, artificial nesting sites, and sometimes caves. 

Shame about the sliver of long grass sticking up to spoil the shot below! 

Barn Owl

A reminder - In Great Britain the Barn Owl is on Schedule 1 of both the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 and The Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order, 1985; therefore the birds, their nests, eggs and young are fully protected at all times. Penalties involving a fine of up to £5,000 and/or a custodial sentence apply to offences against Barn Owls. It is also an offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb Barn Owls at an active nest site with eggs or young or before eggs are laid, or to disturb the dependent young.

This is not normally a problem on working farms where farmers are often in the best position to ensure freedom from disturbance. In fact, the Barn Owl is often referred to as “The Farmers Friend” as a family of owls comprising 2 adults and 6 young may consume over 1,000 rodents during a typical 3-month nesting period. 

Stay tuned there could be more owls soon on Another Bird Blog.

Linking today to Run A Round RanchAnni's Birding and Eileen's Saturday

30 comments:

Helma said...

Great to meet the owl and great that you could photograph it. I love owls.

Greetings, Helma

Prunella Pepperpot said...

Amazing images of the Barn Owl and some very interesting facts. Love the last image even with the addition of the grass!
Have a wonderful weekend Phil.

Margaret Adamson said...

fabulous photographs Phil. Have a lovely weekend.

Purfylle said...

It's nice to learn a bit more about the barn owl. I'll have to see if I can find some locally. Usually we get to boobooks.

Liplatus said...

I have never seen in the wild this stunning barn owl.
Great to see the beautiful photos.

Hope that can live in peace.
Greeting

Breathtaking said...

Hello Phil!:)The farmers friend, and yours too it seems, as one always seems to turn up where you think it will.:) These are all lovely shots,of this beautiful Barn Owl.

Phil My book arrived yesterday, and I must say, all the many birds are so beautifully illustrated, with such valuable information, and I like the layout, and index. I was reading it until after midnight.

Russell Jenkins said...

Spectacular pictures, Phil. I was lucky to see some different Tyto owls this last week and was surprised to see the variations in sizes. They are surely one of the most recognisable of all birds and a thrill to see in the wild.

eileeninmd said...

Hello, awesome sighting and photos on the Barn owl. They are beautiful. They are becoming scarce around here. Great info and post. Thanks so much for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend!

Judy Biggerstaff said...

Thanks for sharing your barn owl pics. They are just amazing and beautiful shots. Owls are always just amazing.

Jo said...

Hi Phil, I always learn so much on your blog. The barn owl in Africa looks very similar to the one in your photos. I haven't seen any here in Southern Africa - I suspect I'd have to go out to the farms. Only thing is here so many pesticides are used in farming that the owls are decimated and the rodents are on the increase. So the farmer brings out more pesticides to get rid of the pests. We had a resident Barn Owl in a large tree above our bedroom window in Tanzania. How I miss that screech screeee... Have a great day. Jo

June Caedmon said...

These are fabulous, Phil! A little photoshopping and that last shot is perfection!

sandyland said...

invigorates me every week

Mary Cromer said...

Based on what is happening to so many raptors there, it is so wonderful to read that these wonderful Barn Owls are indeed protected. What a great image shares, even the one with the sliver of grass. At first glance, I thought that it was a feather gone wild ;). I hope that you have had better health. I had not posted since July 20, but finally posted the other day. New puppy and living with much knee pain, all make for a very busy times and also stress filled. Take good care Phil~

Anni said...

Exceptional beauty Phil!!
I even like the name of the area...Bowland Hill.

And if you wouldn't have mentioned the grass behind the bird, I would've thought it was a feather blowing in the wind...oh, and I was ready to reach out and grab it when it floated to the ground. :-)

Thank you kindly for sharing this with us birders at I'd Rather B Birdin'....it's always appreciated,

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

It's beautiful face almost looks too perfect to be real! You know I always love the owl photos. They are still on my list to see this year! Thanks for sharing yours!

David Gascoigne said...

They are indeed the farmers'friend, Phil. They use Barn Owls in Malaysia in those dreadful green deserts called palm oil plantations as a natural predator control agent. There are nest boxes installed throughout and given the sheer number of rodents some owls are successful in having three broods in a year. I guess the food supply is for all intents and purposes inexhaustible.

Linda said...

I love owls and your photos are beautiful and bring much delight!

Tony McGurk said...

Such wonderful captures of such a beautiful bird

Lowcarb team member said...

Visited the Bowland Hills a couple of years ago ... beautiful!

I never tire of your photo's especially Barn Owls.
New header/banner looks good to.

I hope you've had a good weekend

All the best Jan

NC Sue said...

Lovely photos of the barn owls.
Thank you for joining the party at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2016/08/sweetheart-in-sepia.html

Sharon said...

I love that shot where the owl is looking directly at you. Breathtaking!

carol l mckenna said...

Beautiful barn owl photography! Exquisite ^_^

Wishing you a happy week ~ ^_^

Kristy LifenReflection said...

What a gorgeous sight to behold!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

That was fascinating information about their ears. My one new thing to learn today for sure. They are a beautiful owl (and hard workers) -- no wonder everybody loves them.

Fun60 said...

You are right about them being a favourite especially with your wonderful photos and text.

Hawkeye BrownDog said...

Hi Y'all!

Thanks so much for sharing all the info about the owl along with the photos.

Y'all come on by,
Hawk aka BrownDog

Bruce Clark said...

Great shot with the owl on the wooden fence post.

TexWisGirl said...

yes, i just love them and their fence-sitting ways...

Ruth Kelly said...

He looks like a very young owl.

Ida said...

Wow I didn't realize they came out during the day like that. - What a beautiful bird. The colors of their feathers are so pretty.

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