Barn Owls - Tyto alba and Tyto americana - Thistle and Barney
Thistle is our smallest Barn Owl, and joined our team in 2015. She flies brilliantly around the field, and clearly demonstrates her natural skills of flying fast with long outstretched wings over open ground. She is a much loved superstar amidst the world of owls here at the Centre.
Pete arrived at our Centre as a rescue owl in 2017 and inspite of having spent several years in an aviary, has taken well to flying free in the big Owl Barn, to clients of any age. Sadly he is getting older now and is currently on retirement in his warm and cosy aviary.
Barney (American Barn Owl) is super popular amongst our visitors, ..... larger and more communicative and exciteable than the British Barn Owls, he enjoys his flying to our morning clients, but is a little nervous around the larger crowds of the afternoon flying displays. American barn owls are larger and darker in colour than our British species, and are becoming very popular in owl collections in the UK today.
Three different Barn Owls each exhibiting their own individual personalities!
Barn owls are well documented and one of the best known species, found throughout the world except the cold Arctic north and Antarctica.
They feed mainly on short tailed voles, especially at breeding time, and may have 4-6 young tucked away in a safe nest in a barn or building. They hunt by quartering the ground, or riding fence posts along a field edge, their long wings designed for open field flight, often with shallow wingbeats rather like a butterfly! Beautiful birds to watch.
They depend largely on their hearing in hunting and may hear a vole within the roots of the grass up to 200m away. When not hunting, a flap of skin, called an operculum, closes to keep out the sound!
We have barn owls visiting our farm, occasionally in the trees around the walled garden, and now and again in the barn itself. They are reasonably common around Exmoor, and have even been recorded nesting over Exford, at an altitude of 400m. Our small tussocky fields with plenty of hedgerow and rivers is ideal for them, with plenty of old buildings to nest in, and a good population of mice and voles. Here they often conflict with a healthy population of Tawny Owls coming out of the woods to hunt, and occasionally we hear a raucous battle ensuing, the one trying to chase the other away. Tawny Owls are larger and stronger than Barn Owls, but the Barns have the advantage of long outstretched wings for fast flight over open fields.
All our owls are with us at Exmoor Owl and Hawk Centre to help us all appreciate the amazing relationship between mankind and our natural environment and to enable us to understand their unique personalities and hunting styles..... a reflection of our own lives perhaps. A life without the natural world is no life at all. We enjoy sharing our Friends at our Centre, to encourage all our visitors to rediscover their connection with nature.