Much as I admire Magpies(as I also admire Rattus rattus and Rattus norvegicus) I adore Tyto alba, aka The Barn Owl, I love their silent ghostly flight along the hedgerows in the evening or, better still, in the mists of an early summer morning. Not a sound to be heard except the occasional hunting screech, designed to make the tiny mice and voles move with fright so that the sensitive ears and eyes can locate them and pounce.
I love the patterns on their soft gentle plumage.
I remember, as a child , being taken for a trip by “Uncle” Bernard (really a boyfriend of my mother) for a ride in his new Commer Dormobile (or was it a Bedford?)and just out of the drive hearing the thump as a barn owl hit the windscreen. Bernard climber out and made sure that the beauty did not suffer any more and then presented it to we children to admire. The soft, oh so soft, plumage with its delicate markings and the wings that he explained were made so that, in flight they made not  a sound. Unlike the wood-pigeons which made a distinctive sound as they flew past. I think I must have cried at such beauty.

Juxtapose this with another of natures beautiful hunters, as in this video, and you have an almost irresistible  combination.

Thanks to Cynthia for pointing me in the right direction.


One Response to “”

  1. Ursula Says:

    Yes, barn owls. I could cry too. Not least trying to imagine what it must have felt like (if I understand you correctly) to feel plumage of a dead bird, at the time presumably still warm. Uncle Bernard might have had his faults but at least he showed kindness (by relieving the bird of its misery).

    How many times did I use to take the Angel to Ringwood’s Owls’ Sanctuary? Will take you too when you make your way down here. Owls so self contained. They will look at you (or maybe they don’t – who knows) – and they are still. Which, the cynic might observe, is hardly surprising since they are NIGHT birds. Leave cynics to what they do best: Spoil the view.

    One of the audio books (complete and unabridged) the Angel and I used to listen to, at night in the dark lying side by side on his bed, (know it by heart now) was “The Owl who was afraid of the Dark” by Jill Tomlinson, read by the admirable Maureen Lipman. If ever there was a shocker: An owl afraid of the dark? I ask you.

    Wonderful story how a mother (owl) slowly coaxes her baby owl into the night and its world, making him meet many experiences on the way, till – one day – the owl is NOT afraid of the dark any more.


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