Posted by: atowhee | October 10, 2018


October 10, 2018

This week I’ve heard a street owl and seen a barn owl. Both the street and barn owls were, in fact, Barn Owls.  Before this week I hadn’t found a Barn Owl in Yamhill County this year.  The only previous Barn Owl I’d recorded here was back in November, 2015.

The street owl was calling about 930PM on Monday night.  That was in a residential neighborhood at 17th and Elm.  I hope he’s careful because I occasionally encounter Great Horned Owls in that same area.  GHOs regularly devour the smaller Barn Owl, or any other owl they can catch.

Today my wife and I visited some friends on their small ranch south of McMinnville. While we were there they proudly invited us to come meet “their” barn owl.  She was perched high in the rafters, overlooking and over-listening the area where hay and grain are stored.  Perfect draw for rodents, who are the perfect draw for the Barn Owl.

This family’s farm is focused on livestock so there is little chemical use.  However, they are surrounded by industrial-strength hazelnut farming.  You can click here for a look at the many toxins used on Oregon hazelnut orchards.  It’s scary enough to read that growers are to stay out of a sprayed area for twelve hours.  Yet many of these chemicals are to be avoided for 24 hours.  A few for 48 hours.  

Who’s gonna explain that 12 or 48 hour warning to the Barn Owl?  Who’s going to alert the owl that the rodent she finds staggering down the hazelnut row may be dying and toxic himself?

I can only hope the Barn Owl I met today finds enough prey right there in the feedway, and doesn’t need to go soaring through the toxic zone nearby. (Click on an image to see it full screen.)

Meanwhile the street owl has a safer place to hunt as long as he can avoid cars and bigger owls.  The use of toxins in suburban areas is likely to be less even if the rodents are more evenly dispersed to areas where cats, dogs or birds are fed outside.

One danger all American owls share if they get near people: d-CON.  It can kill predators as large as mountain lions if they get ahold of a poisoned carcass or dying prey.

Barn Owls are one of the few species of bird found on all five (or six) continents.  My wife and I went for many hours on two different planes to reach Uganda for a birding trip.  First species I saw before our first dawn there, atop the suburban hotel: Barn Owl.

My fall birding class for McMinnviller Parks and Rec Department begins next week. Three Thursday night presentations:  Oct 18, 25 and Nov. 1.  Field trips each of the following three Saturdays: 20, 27 and 3.


  1. Harry, I’m wondering if there’s anyway you would let us join you on the GGO hike this Saturday? Cherry Gregory told us about it, but when I tried to sign up they said it was full…We lived for almost 20 yrs. up at Hyatt Lake and only saw the GGO twice! I went countless times to the locations you suggested and didn’t find them…We are coming to your talk on Friday eve. You may remember me, I have the wolf-hybrid Tika we used to see you a lot at the Ashland dog park. We’re now Cherry’s neighbors in Medford!

    Thanks for your consideration.

  2. Just an update on d-CON: the company agreed to stop challenging EPA’s decision to limit the sale of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides. These rodenticides are still available for agricultural and licensed pest control uses, but have not been sold to consumers since March 2015. That change has probably made a significant positive difference for suburban predators.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: