Monday, September 9, 2013

Who Says Barns Have To Be Red?

Welcome to another article about a resident of the World Bird Sanctuary! 

His name is Barnaby and he is a European Barn Owl AND the most adorable little barn owl I have ever met!  He was hatched at the World Bird Sanctuary on April 21st, 2013.  In the pictures following he is only two months old, but full grown!

Barnaby getting a better look at me. 
Since this bird is so young he does not as yet have a great deal of life history to share with you.  However, he is quickly becoming a valuable member of our Education Department, and we expect great things from him.  For now suffice it to say he has a great “Aaaww” factor.

Following are some of the fascinating Natural History facts about his species:
There are over 200 species of owls in the world and around 16 species, 5 subspecies, and 35 races of barn owls. The five subspecies include New World, European, African, Australian, and Asian.   Of the European Barn Owl, there are four races that include the British Barn Owl (Tyto alba alba), European Barn Owl (Tyto alba guttata), Madeiran Barn Owl (Tyto alba schmitzi), and Ernest’s Barn Owl (Tyto alba ernest).   European Barn Owls are found in Austria, Bulgaria, Crimea, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Russia, and Sweden.  They are very adaptable birds that can make a home in man-made dwellings such as barns, church steeples, and natural tree cavities and caves.  These cute little birds’ diets consist of small mammals such as bats, large insects, small birds, but mostly mice and other small rodents.

Lifespan in the wild is vastly different from in captivity.  Most animals usually live longer when they are cared for by people, than caring for themselves in the wild.  Barn owls live around 2-5 years in the wild while in captivity they can live into their early teens.  A few reasons why animals in the wild do not live as long includes predators, less food available, predation, and accidental injuries, such as a vehicle collision.

In reproduction, the female will lay 4-6 round solid white eggs, sometimes more, in a clutch (group of eggs or chicks).  After 29-31 days of incubation during which the female sits on the eggs to keep them warm, they will start to hatch. 

The chicks will fledge the nest around 7-10 weeks old, but will stick around for several months before living on their own.  Females are generally a third larger than the male barn owls, as with most birds of prey.  Barnaby has a sister named Peace that is a bit bigger than him.  If you would like to visit her, you can see her at the Environmental Education Center.

European Barn Owls stand at 8 inches tall, have a wingspan of 2 feet (24 inches), and weigh from 9 to 13 ounces.  North American Barn Owls (Tyto alba pratincola) are larger in size than the Europeans.  They stand at 12-16 inches tall, have a wingspan of 3 feet (36 inches), and weigh from 14 to 25 ounces. 

Barnaby looking up at me while clutching his tennis ball. 
Barn Owls have the best hearing of all birds of prey; because of their facial disks which funnel sounds into their asymmetrically located ears flaps (one ear flap is slightly higher than the other).  Their hearing is so great that they can hear the patter of mouse feet from 90 feet away!  In one year’s time, a single barn owl can catch around 2,000 mice!  That is one awesome rodent controller!

Barnaby happily standing on his perch in his enrichment area. 
Barnaby is available for adoption in our Adopt a Bird program.  To find out more information, call 636-861-3225.  All adoption donations are tax deductible. 

This summer Barnaby can be seen at the Nature Center at the World Bird Sanctuary, which is open daily from 8am-5pm.  In this naturalist’s opinion, Barnaby is a very cute and adorable little bird.  You should stop on by and visit him!

Submitted by Lisbeth Hodges, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

No comments: