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Barn Owls Let You Know

A baby Barn Owl weighs more than its parents!

The structure and delicate softness of its feathers allow a Barn Owl to approach its prey almost without sound. The Barn Owl's ability to locate prey by sound, even when concealed by snow or leaves, is the most precise of any animal yet tested. This young Barn Owlet is about five weeks old and actually weighs more than its parents. During and after the fledging period, it will gradually lose weight, as it learns to hunt for itself. Be sure to watch the video of an owl hunting.

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Full Transcript



Barn Owls Let You Know

Written by Chris Peterson

This is BirdNote!

 [Distant sound of Barn Owl owlets begging]

It’s 11PM, and we’re camped in a field ringed by tall evergreens, backlit by a full moon. If we’re quiet, we’ll hear two full-sized juvenile Barn Owls begging for food. [Barn Owl owlets begging]

If we could see these owlets, we’d see large eyes set in heart-shaped faces atop big fluffy bodies of cream-colored down. At five weeks old, these young actually weigh more than their parents. During and after the fledging period, they gradually lose weight, as they learn to hunt for themselves.

This is a rare treat! Let’s get a little closer. 

[Keeeeeerrrrrrr!] At 40 yards, we’ve crossed the line. That’s a parent, most likely the mother, saying, “Stay away! You’re getting too close to my children!” [Keeeeeerrrrrrr!]

A Barn Owl has the best hearing of any animal yet tested, so she’s been aware of our presence for a long time. [Keeeeeerrrrrrr!]

OK, that’s close enough. She has a busy night ahead. [Keeeeeerrrrrrr!]

Let’s retreat into our tent [ziiiippppppp], admiring her fortitude and determination to keep us away. While we sleep, she will hunt for voles, flying like a giant, quiet moth over moonlit fields. [Keeeeeerrrrrrr!]

For, I’m Michael Stein.


Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Begging calls of juvenile Barn Owls [104570] recorded by G. Vyn; 

Crickets and Keerrrrr calls of adult Barn Owl recorded by C. Peterson.

BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.

Producer: John Kessler

Executive Producer: Chris Peterson

© 2014 Tune In to    July 2017  Narrator: Michael Stein

ID#090806BANO BANO-02b

Sights & Sounds

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