Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Bird of the Day: A very special Barn Owl

A common and widespread species, the Barn Owl (Tyto alba) is found across the United States and throughout central and south America as well. The setting for these photographs might look as wild as most of my pictures, and there is a reasonable explanation for that. The poor thing is dead and has been for thirty-five years. But this is one hard-working barn owl.

The unfortunate bird flew full speed into a large plate glass window at my parent's place in the 1970s. We weren't sure what to do with it, but my good friend and biologist Jon suggested that he needed practice with his taxidermy skills and offered to mount it. He did a great job, and a few years later, the owl went into service as a little bit of the natural world in Mrs. Geotripper's classrooms. The kids loved it.

Mrs. Geotripper is mostly retired from teaching, and we were thinking of what do with our faithful feathered friend, and we thought of the Great Valley Museum at Modesto Junior College, which is expected to open for business very soon. I asked around and they were quite delighted to give the owl a new home where children could learn about this important species. The museum staff was quite excited, because "it still had tail feathers", which their current specimens apparently do not!
And so our little Barn Owl begins a third life. Many thanks to Jon who did such a nice job all those years ago.

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