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barn owl

Barn Owl on Martha’s Vineyard

by Lanny McDowell on January 23, 2010

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I received a call from someone who had found a barn owl in the snow, with just its head protruding.  It had died, most probably from starvation, and it was found a few feet from a small rural outbuilding which had been fitted with an entrance hole high up in the gable end.  I do not know if there was a nesting box inside, or only the visible entrance hole, clearly provided as an access for winged beasties.

The snow was melting away leaving more of the dead owl exposed.  The caller and I speculated on the raptor’s demise.  I spoke of the recurring threat of snow cover too deep for too long, the condition that denies the owl’s access to rodents and that defines how far north (so far) these birds can survive.  Or, in this case, how far north they cannot survive.

Sadness is balanced by appreciation of the incredible beauty of the remains. [click to continue...]