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Barn Owl, Tyto alba

(PID:51737202441) Source
posted by Steve Noon - Bird Photography alias eaglebanjo on Wednesday 19th of January 2022 01:08:35 PM

'Silent but Deadly' The farmers friend...a beautiful Barn Owl quartering the meadow on a summers morning. North Yorkshire. What did they call the Barn Owl before barns were first built? Ghost owl, Hobgoblin Owl, Demon owl, Death Owl, Hissing Owl, Church Owl ? to mention a few! ..Barn Owls were around long before the first farmers built barns to keep their animals or crops dry! They lived in rock crevices and hollow trees, and sometimes still do. But about 5,500 years ago, as soon as people began to build haystacks and animal shelters, Barn Owls moved in. Its latin name—tyto alba—simply means 'White Owl. ... Perhaps because of their white, ghost-like, appearance or their preference to hunt in open areas that can include cemeteries, barn owls have been associated with bad omens and even death! Many thanks for visiting my Flickr pages ...Your visits, interest, comments and kindness to 'fave' my photos is very much appreciated, Steve. Barn Owl Information Notes:- The Barn Owl is a species of open country, favouring lowland habitats such as farmland and young plantation woodland. Populations have recovered somewhat from an earlier period of decline and have benefited from the erection of nest boxes and appropriate habitat management. Barn Owl is listed on Schedule One of the Wildlife & Countryside Act and so receives additional protection during the breeding season; a Schedule One licence is required to visit the nest of this species. Calls and identification Calls The Barn Owl is not a particularly vocal species, the drawn out screech of the male only likely to be heard during the early stages of the breeding season. Barn Owl chicks make a hissing call, sometimes referred to as ‘snoring’, when in the nest. This is used as a begging call and may be heard early in the evening when the chicks are waiting for one of their parents to make a feeding visit. The extent to which a chick calls provides an indication to its siblings of the individual’s willingness to compete for the next food item to be delivered. Some individuals can look particularly ‘washed out’, while others are darker and have more strongly patterned plumage. Female Barn Owls are typically darker in their colouration than males and, additionally, have marked speckling on their flanks and underwing, which is rare in males. The dark-breasted race guttata, which occurs on the continent, may sometimes appear in Britain; such individuals are much darker in their appearance than our resident birds. In flight, adult Barn Owls may be confused with Short-eared Owl, a species alongside which they may hunt, though the latter species has more strongly patterned plumage and piercing yellow eyes. Ecology and Conservation Ecology Distributed widely across Britain and Ireland, the Barn Owl is limited by winter weather conditions and so is absent from upland areas and the most northerly regions. The species is most familiar as an owl of lowland farmland – both pastoral and arable – with peak densities occurring in East Anglia, Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. Within Ireland the core breeding range is now centred on the south-west of the country. Favoured habitats contain areas of rough grassland and woodland edge, within which populations of Field Vole (the favoured prey) are sufficiently abundant. These habitats include the early successional stages of commercial plantation forest. In some areas, such as the arable landscapes of the Fens, secondary prey species like Wood Mouse become more important in the diet. The availability of small mammal prey shapes breeding behaviour; breeding may be delayed or not take place at all in those years when small mammal populations are at a low. The Barn Owl is a cavity nester, favouring large cavities within mature hedgerow trees or the ledges found in old agricultural buildings. The species has adapted well to nest boxes, and it is likely that a significant proportion of the breeding population – probably well in excess of 25% - now uses them for breeding. Incubation begins with the first egg and, since consecutive eggs are laid at intervals of c.2 days, the resulting brood of chicks can vary in age by as much as two weeks. This strategy increases the chances of at least some chicks surviving if prey availability is low during the chick rearing period; the oldest and largest chicks will receive food first, at the expense of the last to hatch. Key facts Clutch Size: 4 – 6 eggs Incubation: 32 days Fledging: 53 – 61 days First Clutches Laid: April – May Number of Broods: 1 – 2 Age at First Breeding: 1 year Typical Lifespan: 4 years Maximum Age from Ringing: 15 years 3 months 21 days (set in 2016) Conservation The Barn Owl was certainly a far more common species at the beginning of the 20th century than it is today, but numbers have recovered from a low point evident during the 1970s and 1980s and may now exceed 10,000 breeding pairs. The last national survey, carried out between 1994 and 1997, but the population at c.4,000 breeding pairs. Though previously Amber listed through its loss of UK range, the species was moved to the UK Green list in 2015. The efforts of volunteers have helped the species, with the erection of nest boxes replacing nesting opportunities that had been lost to the removal of hedgerow trees and the conversion of old farm buildings. Road mortality remains an important cause of death for young birds, particularly during the period of natal dispersal when they move away from where they were raised to establish a breeding territory of their own. Agricultural chemicals, including pesticide seed dressings and rodenticides, may have had an impact on Barn Owl populations, making ongoing monitoring an important priority. Work to provide suitable hunting habitat, and to tackle other potential causes of mortality, has also benefited the species. BTO Notes.

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  • Published 11.28.22
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