I haven’t included a thatched animal in the blog for some time now, so I thought I would present this example from a roof in Ashdon. Clearly, this is an owl, but what type? Is it a Barn owl, Tawney owl or Little owl? Yes, there are six species of owl in the UK; Barn, Tawney, Little, Long Eared, Short Eared and European Eagle Owl.
Owls are birds from the order Strigiformes, which includes about 200 species of mostly solitary and nocturnal birds of prey typified by an upright stance, a large, broad head, binocular vision, binaural hearing, sharp talons, and feathers adapted for silent flight. Exceptions include the diurnal northern hawk-owl and the gregarious burrowing owl.
Owls hunt mostly small mammals, insects, and other birds, although a few species specialize in hunting fish. They are found in all regions of the Earth except polar ice caps and some remote islands. Owls are divided into two families: the true (or typical) owl family, Strigidae, and the barn-owl family, Tytonidae.
Man has long had a soft spot for owls. We’ve been around these creatures an awfully long time and are held in thrall by a mysterious bird that’s seldom seen in daylight, yet is master of the night: often heard, but hardly ever seen. Most woodland owls are nocturnal or crepuscular – active at dawn and dusk – and like to tuck themselves away in a daytime roost.
Whether you’ve observed five long-eared owls roosting in thick blackthorn, a barn owl hunting a road at dusk or a little brown owl peeping out from a hole in a tree, the one feature they all have in common is the stare, which, along with a parliament, is a collective noun for wise old owls.
What ever their collective noun is, I think this specimen from Ashdon is a particularly attractive bird! How about some Owl poetry?
The Wise Old Owl
A wise old owl lived in an oak
The more he saw the less he spoke
The less he spoke the more he heard.
Why can’t we all be like that wise old bird?
By Billy Mills
Late Night Ramblings
As the moon shines
And the stars decorate the sky,
A lonely owl hymns
While the bats fly.
Lightning bugs scatter around
Like will-o’-the-wisps at night,
Without any sound
Oh, what a delight!
The neighbour’s hound is on guard
She will not allow anyone to pass,
No one is allowed in her yard
At this hour, only a fool will walk on her grass.
Her howl pierces the air
Bringing an end to the silence,
She announces she won’t share
She will not tolerate any form of violence.
Across the street, few floors above
Two players are taking their turns,
In the famous game of push and shove
While a tiny candle burns.
By Tanay Sengupta