Friday, January 28, 2011

Barn owls are great hunters, poor builders

Man is always striving to come up with a better mouse trap. But, with all his technology at hand, his latest model pales in comparison to Ma Nature’s barn owl. Barn owls are truly a rodent’s worst nightmare. From head to toe, these birds come equipped with an arsenal unmatched in the animal world. Due to their dish-shaped face and offset ears, barn owls receive sound waves much like a satellite dish. They have the best hearing of any creature tested by science. This allows them to find rodents in total darkness and in tall grass. Their razor-sharp talons come with tiny, serrated edges and a vise grip that prey can’t wiggle from. Their wings are large for their bodies and have soft edges. This small wing load and silent flight provides a stealth bomber approach. In 1984, this writer noticed a pair of La Grande area barn owls having difficulty raising a brood of young in a nearby barn. Owls build a poor nest, so the eggs or half-grown young would often fall from this skimpy nest on a narrow beam. Reading a magazine article about owl nest boxes, I decided to erect a box. In just a few weeks, a healthy brood of young were discovered in the box and soon fledged. Neighbors tried a box with a resulting happy brood. Soon, local farmers heard of this and wanted boxes in their barns. The rest is history...more

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