Thistle is our youngster, and is learning to fly to strangers. He is becoming well bonded, both to the place (his home range or 'hunting' territory) and to Rod, his trainer. He has become one of the stars this season.
Barney joined our team in March 2010 and provides many amusing moments. Barney is flown in out outdoor display daily, and is one of our most popular birds with a BIG personality!
American barn owls are larger and darker in colour than our British species, and are becoming very popular in owl collections in the UK today.
Barn owls are well documented and one of the best known species, found throughout the world except the cold Arctic north and Antarctica.
They feed mainly on short tailed voles, especially at breeding time, and may have 4-6 young tucked away in a safe nest in a barn or building. They hunt by quartering the ground, or riding fence posts along a field edge, their long wings designed for open field flight, often with shallow wingbeats rather like a butterfly! Beautiful birds to watch.
They depend largely on their hearing in hunting and may hear a vole within the roots of the grass up to 200m away. When not hunting, a flap of skin, called an operculum, closes to keep out the sound!
We have barn owls visiting our farm, occasionally in the trees around the walled garden, and now and again in the barn itself. They are reasonably common around Exmoor, and have even been recorded nesting over Exford, at an altitude of 1200ft. Our small tussocky fields with plenty of hedgerow and rivers is ideal for them, with plenty of old buildings to nest in, and a good population of voles.