October 30, 2008

The Bird of Doom!

Imagine walking alone across a meadow at dusk. The light is getting increasingly dim, and you still have a few lonely miles until you reach home.

Then you hear it. A sharp, hissing screech that abruptly ends just as goosebumps rise on your arms. Suddenly, a pale, ghostlike figure swoops into view. You find yourself mesmerized by its dark, soulless eyes...

OK, maybe I shouldn't leave my corporate writing gig for horror novels just yet. But I did my best to describe your very special Halloween BOTW, the barn owl.

Fact: The barn owl is a medium-sized owl, standing around 14 inches tall with a wingspan of more than three feet. It has white undersides and a caramel colored back. Its white, heart-shaped face is marked by opaque eyes. Look at the picture: it's just plain creepy looking!
Fact: The female barn owl is significantly larger and more colorful than the male barn owl. She has many more spots all over her breast.
Fact: These black spots may serve as a stimulus for the male. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which gives me the majority of my awesome facts, studies have shown that a male barn owl will feed his nestlings less when his female mate has her breast spots artificially removed.
Fact: The barn owl flies with deep, somewhat slow wing beats. Its flight is noiseless, which helps it hear its prey. This video gives you a decent idea.

Fact: The only thing creepier than the barn owl's empty eyes is its screech. It sounds like a woman possessed by an evil, hissing spirit. Click here to listen to it again!
Fact: The barn owl hunts at night, and, as you might imagine, it can see very well in the dark. However, its ability to hunt by sound alone is the best of any animal ever tested. It has caught mice in the lab in complete darkness, and it finds rodents in the wild underneath snow and heavy vegetation.
Fact: If you haven't caught on yet, barn owls eat mostly rodents.
Fact: The barn owl is one of the most widely distributed birds on the planet. It is found on all continents except Antarctica. It's most common in areas with marshes, meadows, and fields, where rodents are typically found.
Fact: The barn owl has long had a sinister reputation in mythology and folklore. William Wordsworth called it the "Bird of Doom."
Fact: California Newuk Native Americans believed that virtuous people who died became great horned owls, while wicked souls were doomed to become barn owls.
Fact: One English folk cure called for barn owl eggs to cure alcoholism. Children who were fed raw owl eggs were thought to have a lifelong protection against drunkenness.

This has been your very special Halloween BOTW!


doug said...

I wonder if the females ever try to have their spots augmented. They'd get more attention from the males.

mean amy said...

I love the part where he poops....one minute and fourty eight seconds into the video...barn owls are also not shy about dropping a load for the camera!

Kathy Dalton said...

Very spooky, thanks Amy!

Patrick said...

I think you're full of crap Haran! I think the barn owl is SO beautiful! look at it's cute heart shaped face, I want to cuddle with it! And leave it to Mullen to find the exact moment when a bird craps on camera, she seriously has a radar for anything uneducational in an educational blog!

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