A Rare and Beautiful Bird

Posted: January 5, 2012 - 11:55 , by admin


A closer look at a living barn owl perched.

Their distinctive heart-shaped face actually helps improve their hearing. With lop-sided ears, they can easily pinpoint prey with sound alone. Photo by Steve Brace

The ROM’s Ornithology collection received a very special gift this holiday, a Barn Owl (Tyto alba) was donated by Tyler Hoar, a birder and a volunteer with the Ontario Nest Records Scheme (ONRS). Listed as an endangered species, Barn Owls are protected by both the Ontario and Canadian governments.

Found near Whitby, Ontario, this exceptional and rare specimen was likely a victim of starvation. Ontario marks the northern limits of their range and our cold winters make a harsh home for many non-migratory birds.

Barn Owls have impeccable hearing and can locate rodents (their favourite feast) in complete darkness and even under snow. With their silent flight, they are nocturnal predators to be feared if you’re a mouse!

There hasn’t been a Barn Owl sighting in the Durham Region area since 1973, so this is an extremely rare discovery and an amazing addition to the ROM’s collection, the foundation of ROM research.

Looking through a magnifying glass at the birds feet and claws.

Their long legs and sharp talons look a lot like weapons to us!

A closer look at the leading edge of an owl wing showing the rough edge.

Many owls are silent during flight. The “cut” feathers you see above line the leading edge of their wings and allow them to move through the air without making a sound.

Further Reading
Barn Owl, Ontario Species at Risk

Barn Owl, Wikipedia