Strikingly Beautiful Birds: Barn Owl

A Barn Owl in its Roost in a Hollow Tree

I just love owls. It is always a thrill for me to see them, they captivate me. I can see why the Native American Indians gave them a special place in their folklore. One very beautiful owl that I have only seen on two occasions is the Barn Owl. In both instances it was fun, in a unique sort of way.

My first experience with seeing this bird came in south central Washington state in 1979. I was living and working in the Pacific Northwest in those days and I was driving from Seattle to the Tri-Cities on Interstate 90 with a couple of coworkers who were engineers. We had just come out of the mountains and were cruising along right outside of Ellensburg with me at the wheel. All of a sudden, I spotted the owl on a fencepost at the side of the road. I knew immediately what it was and I pulled odd onto the shoulder right away. My two passengers started to grumble - "Why are you stopping?" . I told them that there was a rare and beautiful owl on the fencepost and since I had binoculars I offered to let them see the bird. In any event I was going to check it out and they reluctantly agreed to get out of the car. When we got to a viewing point and they had a chance to see the owl they were pleased that they had come along. "it is a beautiful bird" they both said. So it goes to show you even non-birders are thrilled to see Barn Owls, such is the allure.


Barn Owls, Pair on Palm Tree at Night, Israel


My second experience came almost 25 years later in the summer of 2003. I was riding my bicycle in rural Wisconsin. I was riding in Sauk county outside of Baraboo on a very nice June day. I wasn't quite sure of where I was so I decided to consult my map. To do this I needed to pull into a driveway of an old abandoned quarry site. As I pulled in I looped around and started back towards the highway. The instant I turned back towards the road I was face-to-face with a bird coming directly at my head. I could see the white heart shaped face so I knew what it was but it was so close I had to duck my head onto my handlebars to avoid getting hit. Not as good a view as the first one, but a memorable incident to be sure.

If you have ever seen the BBC video series "The Life of Birds", and I strongly recommend seeing it if you haven't, there is some gorgeous footage of the Barn Owl hunting in the daylight in rural England. I believe it is a scene from Disc one, in the episode entitled "To Fly or Not to Fly". How they managed to get this footage is beyond me, but then the whole series is like that. Check it out - you will really enjoy seeing this if you love owls.

Below is a video of a young barn owl grooming his nest mate that was captured by a webcam. I find it delightful and I hope you do as well.

Barn Owl By David Chandler

Barn Owl reveals these remarkable creatures in detail. Rarely seen images -- including stunning photographs of nesting owls and their owlet chicks --


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