Jan 20, 2009

What's in a Name

The Barn Owl (Tyto alba) is one of the most widely distributed owls on the planet. Chances are, if you are reading this blog, you've got barn owls nearby. I've encountered them many times, and can often hear them screeching when they fly over head (they are known for their frequent calls). I've also stepped in freshly regurgitated owl balls. That is a wonderful experience, what with the crunching of mouse bones and the gooey strands of squirrel hair on your shoes.

Their worldly status that has garnered them a long list of also-known-as's. Here are but a few:

Monkey-faced Owl, Ghost Owl, Church Owl, Death Owl, Hissing Owl, Hobgoblin or Hobby Owl, Golden Owl, Silver Owl, White Owl, Night Owl, Rat Owl, Scritch Owl, Screech Owl, Straw Owl, Barnyard Owl and Delicate Owl.

Baby birds always look awkward, but this little brood of barn owlets can take solace in the fact that they aren't a threatened species, relocating isn't a problem, they can hunt in complete darkness, they fly silently, and they'll soon be the stuff of nightmares to rodents the world over.

Photos courtesy Jack G


Anonymous said...

Bottom left one totally looks like a tough guy.

"Youse want I should knock yer little mouse problem? He'll be sleepin' wit' de' fi- er ants"

Anonymous said...

I have these in the woods around my farm and when they screech, it sounds like the scream of a woman or child being murdered in the woods. Incredibly creepy and unsettling.

As a side note, the saw-whet owl was named for the call of the barn owl; the namer mistakenly thought the little saw-whet owl had produced the barn owl's distinctive shriek, which he compared to the sound of a saw being sharpened against a whet stone. Thus, saw-whet.

Vanessa said...

Adorable! They look like dust bunnies with faces. :)

Cambrian Dame said...

They're even worse up close and personal... I work at a wildlife center, and we raised three of them to adulthood and set them free after their nest tree collapsed.

They make a sound like an angry espresso machine, this intense gargling hiss, and when holding them to feed them, no matter which way you turn them, their heads rotate so they are screaming in your face. Their mouths are HUGE for such small things.

Theodosia said...

Whosa cute widdle predator? You are!

(I suppose they're cuter if you can't hear them vocalizing, but I suspect I'd still find them so-ugly-they're-cute.)

Anonymous said...

I think they're very ugly, with their feathers just coming out they look like puff balls.