Barn Owl

Tyto alba

"He was, I thought, one of the most beautiful birds I had ever seen. The feathers on his back and wings were honey-comb golden, smudged with pale ash grey; his breast was a spotless cream white and the mask of white feathers around his dark, strangely Oriental-looking eyes, was as crisp and as starched-looking as any Elizabethan's ruff."

BIRDS BEASTS & RELATIVES © Gerald Durrell 1969

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RANGE: Worldwide except temperate Asia Antartica and some oceanic islands. Thought to be the most widely distributed of all land birds.

HABITAT: Woods churches open country farmland marshes

SIZE: 34 cms

DIET: Mainly rats and mice.

CONSERVATION STATUS: Threatened because of loss of habitat and agricultural pesticides entering food chain UK.

NOTES: Many sub-species with different plumage. Solitary or paired existence during the day living in farm buildings  ruins or caves or hollow trees. Often seen at dusk looking white. Photographs show form known as Tyto alba alba from south and west Europe. Pale plumage and white face account for some ghost stories. There is a buff-breasted form in north and east Europe.

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"When people decided to come live in a valley, the few wild animals that lived there decided that they did not want their valley to be destroyed. They followed a stingy Crow’s advice, only to find out later that he had betrayed them, and was working for the dogs that are helping the people take over the valley. The only one who knows a way to save the valley is an old Owl, but none of the wild animals know how to get him to help. Their only hope is a small charming Beagle called Josie. The animals try everything to get the people out of their valley, but nothing seems to work. The animals soon start to doubt the Owl’s wisdom, but the only thing that can save them may be Josie’s death."

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Donna Barlow can be contacted direct here

thesoggycardboardbox@yahoo.com

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