This is finally my long awaited post about owls. I've been waiting to post this when I got a moment and didn't feel like writing about racing related topics. Since I'm going to be showing a friend around the Bird Sanctuary tomorrow, I decided that I might as well post this now. It'll mostly be some descriptions and links about my favorite owls.
First up is the screech owl. It's one of the smallest owls and smallest birds of prey you'll find. They're fairly common in Ohio, and I can hear them at night where I live. They have two main morphs, or colorings on their feathers, brown and grey. They also don't really hoot, instead they let out a noise similar to a horse whinnie, though lower pitched and quieter, though it can still be easily heard when there's not much noise around.
Next is the barred owl. This is a fairly large, stocky owl named for the barring on its chest that is its most distinguishing feature as far as its feather pattern. They also have a distinct, usually 8 syllable hoot that's unique to the barred owl. They're also the only owl in Eastern North America with dark eyes aside from the barn owl.
Next is the great grey owl. This is one of the largest owls in North America and the world in terms of length. Though it has yellow eyes, it's actually somewhat closely related to the barred owl. Great greys also have the largest facial disc of any known owl. These mark it out as easily identifiable.
Next is the snowy owl. As indicated by its name, it's a mostly white colored owl that's found in northern North America. They commonly visit the northern US during winter, following their food supplies. It's one of the world's largest owls by size and weight. It's uncommon except in winter in the US, but it's commonly found in Canada and Siberia, where it's white coloring and dense feathers make it well adapted to the snow pack.
Second to last is the great horned owl. As with the screech and barred owls, this owl is fairly common in Ohio and much of the US. Again, it's one of the world's largest owls, and the largest commonly found owl in North America outside of the snowy owl's normal range. It's known as the Tiger of the Air because of its feather pattern and its hunting abilities. It's the most common "true" owl of the Americas.
And lastly, my favorite, the barn owl. It's considered rare and threatened in Ohio as far as its population. However, it's common throughout North America and most of the world outside of the arctic. The common barn owl as it's often known is mostly lightly colored and has a prominent heart-shaped facial disc and (relative to the size of the disc) small black eyes. North American and European barn owls are similar in size to crows and ravens, with European barn owls generally being smaller than North American owls. They also don't hoot, and usually emit a screech or twitters to communicate.
Though the barn owl name usually refers to the so-called common barn owl described above, there's a whole family commonly refereed to as barn owls that share common traits, the family of birds known as Tytonidae. This includes the barn owls (tyto owls) and bay owls (Phodillus). Bay owls are usually smaller than "true" barn owls and have U-shaped rather than heart shaped facial discs.
Also, there's various sub-families of barn owls, such as sooty owls in Australia, which are named mostly because of their black/grey/white coloring. There's also the grass owls, which are found in Australasia and Africa, and are named as such because they nest on the ground in tall grass. There's also huge barn owls called masked owls found in Australasia.
Among the more rare examples of barn owls are the ashy-faced owl found in the Hispaniola islands, and resembles the barn owl except for its grey facial disc, and black or melanistic barn owls. These owls are found mostly in Western Europe, and are named due to a genetic mutation that occurs one every 100,000 or so barn owl births. This mutation make the owl much darker in color than a normal barn owl, appearing to be dark brown to black. All known examples that are living are in captivity, as such black barn owls usually die in the wild.
That's some brief descriptions of my favorite owls and some links to more info, photos and even sound recordings. I hope that you'll enjoy this article and it's change from racing stuff.