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Barn Owl

I had posted a larger version of this in my early Flickr days. I wanted to improve this shot by cropping it. The background in the original was very messy. The original photo only had 3 comments :-( because I didn't know many people on Flickr. It will be interesting to see how this improved version does now....These are my most favorite of the owls. To see the "uncropped" photo, go to www.flickr.com/photos/smudgie/250210653/ I also have a nice portrait style shot of this guy.. go to www.flickr.com/photos/smudgie/267429916/

 

Q: How does the Barn Owl locate prey?

A: They use their highly developed auditory senses to search for and locate the scurrying movements of voles in the grass. Their ear openings are fixed at counter positions on each side of the head, known as asymmetry. One opening is close to the front and set high, and the other is positioned further to the rear and lower. Both have small flaps faced forward, and aligned with the facial disk. The facial disk helps gather the sound to the flaps and openings. Each ear receives a different auditory frequency. The owl hovers over grassy fields with its head faced down, and listens. The noise created by the voles moving within the grass give off a wide range of auditory frequency, so each ear receives a different range of the spectrum. The position of the ear openings allow the sounds to reach each ear at slightly different times. The brain then calculates the distance of the sound source based entirely on the bi-angulation and frequency timings received by both ears simultaneously. When the location has been determined, the bird drops closer and takes a second reading, then drops upon the prey with its head tilted skyward and its feet spayed very wide. The bird usually lands on the prey with at least one toe touching the prey, and it quickly grasps the prey. If the prey escapes, the bird will sometimes chase the prey on foot, but usually launches back into the air to relocate it. Therefore, although the Barn Owl can see very well in the dark, they rarely use their eyesight in search of prey. Eyesight is used primarily to locate perches and roosting areas.

 

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Taken on August 13, 2006