Thursday, December 12, 2013

Meet Barnaby

Meet Barnaby, a European barn owl.  He is less than a year old and was hatched at World Bird Sanctuary in the Spring of 2013.  
Barnaby loves to perch on the edge of his water bowl
Barnaby loves to perch and sleep on the edge of his water bowl rather than on his perch, and his favorite thing to play with is a pile of crunchy fall leaves.  Barnaby is training to become an ambassador for his species.  As part of his training he is introduced to new things, and does very well with strange places and new situations.  At this young age he has already begun participating in World Bird Sanctuary educational programs and is doing great.

Barnaby playing with a nice crunchy pile of leaves

European Barn owls are very similar to our common Barn owl.  The main difference between the two is that European Barn owls are smaller than the common barn owls.  Both types of owls do not hoot.  Their call is a screechy scream, along with chitters and hisses. 

As adults, male European and American Barn Owls have an all white belly and the females have a tannish belly.  Barnaby will be part of the World Bird Sanctuary’s Hawk Crest location.  Hawk Crest is a satellite sanctuary to World Bird Sanctuary, and will be located in Bloomsdale, Missouri.  We will be doing programs for schools--kindergarten through fifth grade.  Barnaby will be a spokesbird for his species, teaching kids why owls are so important to our environment.   

Barn owls eat more than 2000 mice a year along with keeping other rodent populations in check.   They are amazing hunters!  Their heart shaped face works similar to a satellite dish, but funnels sound and not radio waves back to their ears.  This allows them to locate and catch prey using just their hearing.

Sadly these amazing birds have a very short life span in the wild due to secondary poisoning and loss of habitat.  They get secondary poisoning when people use mouse poison to get rid of the mice in their house.  These poisons works very well, and most of the time you never have to deal with that mouse.  The problem with that is the poison doesn’t kill the mouse right away.  The mouse then wanders outside and because he is sick from the poison he looks like an easy meal for a Barn Owl.  All it takes is one poisoned mouse to kill one Barn Owl! 

One poisoned mouse could be a death warrant for this beautiful creature

Barn Owls love to nest in barns--which is where they get their name. Sadly, in today’s world many barns made of wood are being torn down.  Since there isn’t much we can do about that, we can do things like build barn owl nest boxes and place them in our back yards.  As part of his participation in the World Bird Sanctuary’s educational programs, Barnaby will teach kids more things they can do to help his species in the hope that the kids will go home and teach mom, dad, brother, and sister all the things that they learned from him. 

Hawk Crest is starting from scratch.  My husband Zach Rankin has helped with a lot of the construction work.  He built two rooms so that we can do programs on site as well.  He has also helped with small odds and ends jobs to make the place safe for the public.  It is a beautiful facility and we can’t wait to share it with everyone.

Submitted by Christina McAlpin, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

No comments: