Friday, May 2, 2008

barn owl babies...

What you didn't know is that you were coming here for a biology class today! Since we have a nest of baby barn owls on the farm...I thought I'd share a pic of these cute little creatures with you.

Our veterarian, Dr. Dick Clegg, has an avid interest in the preservation of barn owls and holds a banding license. He sets up and monitors owl boxes in our area...and we have had one in the peak of our barn for many years now. Since barn owls are strictly nocturnal, we really never see them. But every spring we have babies way up there in the rafters...and I actually made the big trek up the ladder to take a peek. I almost dropped my camera when I opened the box...their hissing gave me quite a fright.

Barn owls apparently have very good vision...but their hearing is incredible...they are able to pinpoint the location of the faintest sounds. They pounce on their prey in total darkness.

Barn Owls are mate for life. If a mate should die, they will not find a new one until much time has passed. During courtship, males present the females with gifts of food (not a bad idea!). He also feeds her while she incubates the eggs. Her more brownish coloring may allow her better camouflage when sitting on the eggs. Four to six eggs are laid at two-day intervals...and incubation of about 32 days begins as soon as the first is laid, so the first to hatch may be two weeks old when the last hatches. The baby owls leave the nest at about 60 days...and here's how they look at this time...

(The previous two photos are compliments of Dr. Clegg.)

Barn Owls do not hoot as some owls do, but have a rather blood-curdling scream. We also hear a lot of hissing....and a chattering sound on occasion.

There are only about 1000 barn owls in British Columbia...and they are considered an endangered species. Their declining numbers are due in part to the loss of their hunting habitat and their nesting places...the old wooden barns are being re-placed by new metal structures. Because owls hunt close to the ground, it is believed that ten percent of all Barn Owls are killed by vehicles on the road every year.

So we are doing our part in preserving these most strange and wonderful birds by allowing Dr. Clegg to use our century old barn as a nesting ground...and we quite enjoy having them on our farm!

Now that my class has come to an end...let me just clarify a few of yesterday's mysteries! The mistress of the home with 'bride in the bushes' happened to walk by I ran out to the road to have a chat. Here's the scoop...her grandchildren dressed her naked garden statue in a wedding gown over the weekend. She said they are always appalled by her unclothed garden statue, and took matters into their own hands. She had a good laugh when I told her what a stir they had caused...and today I see a naked woman standing among the shrubs next door!

Yes, the lily capital of Canada is...Neepawa, Manitoba! It is not only the lily capital of Canada...but has also been declared the World Lily Capital, with over 2000 varieties of lilies growing in the area. My niece is getting married near there this summer...and we have made arrangements to stay in Neepawa. I'm looking forward to a fine time in Manitoba...and hope that the mosquitoes cooperate with our plans!

Now that we have solved the mysteries of the's time to get on with the day. The sun is shining...the yard is calling...and I'm on my way out.


  1. A Barn Owl nursery on your farm. How fascinating!! They must feel so safe around you to homestead. You never bore us. Thanks for clearing up the mysteries for us. Martha

  2. What interesting looking creatures those barn owls are!
    Have a good day outside..are you gardening?

  3. I knew it. . i'm quite happy that I figured out your vacation location.
    So, your barn owls are so interesting. I love the pic of the little guys.
    When I was growing up we always had a huge stuffed barn owl on a plaque in our living room. It caused quite a stir when folks would come to visit. My dad clobbered him wiht a 2x4 when it came to attack him in the chicken barn. Several thousand chickens died of fright that day, and one huge barn owl. I love how stories come to mind through blogging friends stories.

  4. Fascinating post on the barn owls...they are so unusual looking but very beautiful as well. I'm sure the hissing would have frightened me as well..You live in a beautiful and interesting place Judy...

  5. The mystery of the bride is solved. I loved that story.

    I never knew so much about barn owls. What interesting creatures they are. Thanks for the lesson.

  6. What a great post! I loved the pics of the babies!
    So happy the wedding dress mystery is cleared up! Whew! That was one for Nancy Drew!
    Have a wonderful weekend!

  7. Those barn owls are quite something. I definitely would've dropped the camera and then fallen off the ladder. You did very well!

    Ahhhh, the grandchildren don't approve of nudity in the garden! LOL! Too funny! Thanks for following up for us.

    You are a fount of information, Judy! Love it!

  8. What a cool post! I loved learning about the owls. Thanks for posting the pictures.

  9. super! Good on you for doing your part in preserving these wonderful birds. I love that you have a chance to see the little wonderful and what a great shot!

    Hee the story of the bride! It seems to me that your life there is every bit as interesting on a daily basis as this busy chick's here ... You do have such a knack with words!

  10. The information about the barn owls is fascinating. How great that you get to see them up close!

    And I loved the story of the mysterious bride, too.

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  11. Beautiful pictures Judy, I love your Owls...have you heard the old Scottish saw that if you hear an Owl in the daytime, tie a knot in your shirt or someone will pass? My grandparents truely believed it!

  12. Those are amazing images! We have huge old owls near our place..we once were driving by one that had landed by the road and thought it was a fire hydrant!

  13. I'm happily feeding a mommy and daddy mockingbird, and they are staring at me in the kitchen window wanting MORE WORMS!
    I'm thinking feeding mommy and daddy barn owl would be a very bad idea.
    I loved seeing those barn owl babies though, and do hope they will all grow up to have large families of their own.

  14. Does anyone know of the man in Siskiyou County Calif. or Ashland/Medford,Or. who rescues baby orphan barn owls? help!


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~ Ralph Waldo Emerson