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Common barn owl

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Common barn owl
Barn owl.jpg
Scientific Classification
Binomial

Tyto alba

The Common barn owl is a species in the Barn owl family (Tytonidae) known by the scientific name Tyto alba. However, any member of the family Tytonidae are sometimes referred to as a Barn Owl. Tytonidae is one of the two groups of owls, the other being the typical owls (Strigidae).

This crow-sized Barn owl (length: 15-21 inches, wings 3 feet), nests in barns, belfries and hollow trees. The Barn owl is important in controlling rodents who are harmful to orchard and garden crops in rural communities. It has no close relatives but lives in a world-wide range. The Barn owl is also sought for its beautiful spotted coloring and calm disposition around humans. They many features typical of most birds, with the exception that owls are amazing predators. With famously sharp talons, and radar like senses, this animal is definitely a well equipped hunter.

According to the researcher F. F. Silcock, of Australia, some barn owls (at least sometimes) give off a bioluminescent glow. This has been observed in Australia and is one explanation for lights that have been labeled "Min Min" lights. Mr. Silcock also suggests this kind of light may explain the "Will 'O the Wisp" in Great Britain. [1]

Anatomy

Barn owls are white with brown accents along the head and body. They have a 33-39 cm length (tall) and a wingspan of 80–95 cm long. Their flying habits are renowned for being so effortless looking in the air. Owls are special in the way they have eyes that are not on either side of their heads, they are located in front of their heads. This gives the owls binocular vision. They cannot move around their eyes, rather they must move around their heads instead. Owls can turn their head almost a complete 180 degrees. Owls have extremely complex brains, their senses are so in tune that they are able to hunt in the absence of any light. For this they use only their hearing, and can swoop down with their silent flight and grasp the small mammal with their razor-sharp talons.[2]

Reproduction

tyto alba: barn owlets

The female lays 5-11 white, spotless eggs. Incubation lasts from 32 to 34 days, with a chickling (or formally named fledgling) period of 9 to 12 weeks. Often a pair will raise two "broods" in a year. Usual with owls, incubation starts with the laying of the first egg, resulting in an incredibly exhausting hatching. This can mean large differences in size and development of the chicks, sometimes resulting in the last to hatch not surviving. The Barn owl nests underground in burrows, holes ,embankments or elevated nests of other birds it can also nest in steeples or barns.[3]

Ecology

tyto abla: barn owl

Barn Owls are predators. They are equipped to hunt silently and in the dark, this makes their small prey stand a slim change against the meek Barn owl's razor sharp talons. Their main diet consists of small mammals such as pets rodents, also on voles, frogs, and insects.

There are many varieties of Barn owl, but in North America they live up to their names and choose rural or even open country as their homes. They can also live in small forests rich with Barn owl game. Barn owls also call Europe their home, sporting non-traditional pure whites and oranges as well as varying names such as the "rat owl" or the "stone owl". Other species worldwide have some grey coloring as well. Barn owls live in every inhabitable region in the world.[4]

Endangerment

Barn owls are calm and gentle creatures, longing only to live in a human-free nature-rich environment. Due to our population growth, and our spreading into every inhabitable area available to us, humans have started to wipe out the Barn owl population. As of 1990 the similar Spotted owl was put on the endangered species list for just this reason. Barns and forests are making way for developments and non-animal friendly territory.

There is now another threat to the Barn owls' fragile survival. Barred owls are hybrids of predatory owls, they hunt other owls in their territory. Being well adapted, they have an advantage over their quiet counterparts. Breeding between these new hybrids also means the end of the Barn owls as we know them. Protective measures are being taken, but the way things are going now, I assume that the only Barn owls the next generation will know are ones bred in captivity.[5]

Gallery

References