We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
The first Barn Owl I ever saw was in the headlights swooping low over a marshy field on the North Shore of Long Island. It did, indeed, look spooky in its whiteness.
Barn Owls have a worldwide distribution, but they stay away from the colder regions. In North America, they aren't found much north of southern New England.
Barn Owls are prodigious mouse and rat killers. As such, they are birds of farms and meadows, not of woodlands nor of suburbia. In the Northeast, their numbers were surely higher when the countryside was filled with small farms and cow pastures. Midwestern industrial-scale farming offers them little of interest. I suppose they are the night-time analogue of the Marsh Hawk. The rodents never get a break.
I have never seen or heard one at Maggie's Farm, which would seem to be perfect habitat for them, but which might be towards the northern edge of their range. We even have an open shed with a loft which would be perfect for them to raise a family in. (The Barn Swallows think they own it, though, so maybe they would pester the owls too much.)
The subject of Barn Owls came up because Samizata, of all places, posted a piece on Barn Owl nest boxes. Nobody is going to make a lot of money producing these, but it's a great idea as the wooden barns and silos of the past are falling down.
what a beautiful creature.in new zealand we have two owls only,the morepork,which is small and nocturnal,and a little owl originally from europe,which favours the afternoons and early dusk.we had a large owl called the whekau or laughing owl though due to bastard human colonisation has been extinct since maybe 1920,maori used to hunt and eat anything that moved and the european settler brought stoats,weasels and cats and dogs.so its lucky theres any small wildlife left in this once lovely country.
If you haven't read it already, I strongly recommend a book called "Wesley the Owl," subtitled "The Remarkable Story of an Owl and his Girl." Unlike most "me and my pet" stories, this one is about a woman who adopted a four-day old barn owl, and cared for it until its death sixteen years later. Wesley bonded to the author as a mate, and the author gave up her social life for many years, because Wesley wouldn't tolerate any other males in his house.
In the process of living with Wesley, the author gained insight into owl behavior that specialists didn't even guess at. It's a great story.
When I was growing up, there were nearly always a pair or so of Barn Owls living in my Cousin Tom's - uh - barn. It was only a mile or so from my house, so I would ride my bike out there and then saddle up one of the several horses and go for a ride. For this privilege Cousin Tom extracted a fee in the form of chores, which often involved stowing or extracting hay from the hayloft. The hayloft (and barn) wasn't very big, and about a quarter of it was separated from the main loft by rough, raw boarding. That's where the Barn Owls lived. I could peer through the cracks between the planks & check them out.
Sometimes in the fall & winter I would ride around into the late afternoon following one of our bird dogs, looking for quail (when I did that I always rode "Peanut", a Quarter-Horse, because he didn't mind shotguns). Sometimes on the way back to the barn, with the sun pretty much down, I would see one of the owls flying away from the barn to go on his own hunt.