We were just driving back home this afternoon, down a country lane, when swopping over the road in front of our car came a white ghost – a Barn Owl. It looped around the field, crossed back in front of us and landed on top of hay bales in a barn by the side of the road. We stopped the car, got out and crept slowly and quietly along the hedgerow to try to get closer, but it’s not easy to creep up on a barn owl who can hear a mouse rustling in grass and could certainly hear me steeping on the dried up leaves on the grass verge.
The owl silently flew out of the barn, gliding along the hedge and landed in a tree ahead of us.
Jumping back in to the car, we drove slowly towards the tree, hoping not to scare it away.
I decided that I was only going to get photos from out of the car window. I was really excited to get this close to a wild Barn owl and I didn’t want to scare it away again by getting out of the car. As the car rolled gradually forward I put down my window and got my camera ready as quietly as I could. I am sure it knew we were there and after a few moments it did a pre-flight poo and took off out of sight.
It was amazing to watch this bird even if it was only for a few minutes.
Barn owls are a very distinctive non-migrating bird, found in many places around the world. They are 33 to 36 cm and have a wing span of 30 to 45 cm. They weigh 275 to 600 grams.
Barn owls are solitary birds. They eat mainly mice, voles and shrews, and very occasionally frogs, bats and birds. They are crepuscular, meaning they are active during the evening and early morning.
They are silent hunters due to the structure of their feathers and have one of the most sensitive hearing of any animal ever tested.
Barn owl feathers, unfortunately are not waterproof and therefore they are unable to fly in very heavy rain which means in wet winters they can die of starvation.