Names can often be misleading and this is one of those situations. It is the Barn Owl that screeches as they ﬂy through the sky and not the Screech Owl. The Screech Owl actually has a “bouncing ball” hooting sound that gets more rapid as it ends.
I remember examining a Barn Owl in the enclosure we had made in a corner of the Feed Barn warehouse and hearing a blood curdling screeching from this protesting owl. The sound was so loud that warehousemen ran to the door asking if I was okay. I was fine and so was the owl, who was simply protesting the indignity of being examined.
Barn Owls are loud and aggressive when healthy. They charge us with claws and beaks, wave their heads back and forth and hiss loudly. It may sound strange, but they are powerfully beautiful.
People never think they have seen a Barn Owl when they see Stella, our education Barn Owl, because her wings are a spotted toffee brown color and what they have seen is a large white owl. Seen from below as they ﬂy, Barn Owls are white under their wings and on their bodies.
Pat Benik, who is our Raptor Team Leader, will tell you that the Barn Owl is her favorite bird. She got Stella five years ago when she fell from a nest in a barn in Copperopolis. We often tell people to put wildlife back because we can never raise them as well as their wild parents.
Unfortunately, these kind people did not notice that Stella had an injury to her wing when they put her back. When Pat got a second call that Stella was on the ground, it was too late to save the end of her wing.
Knowing that Stella would never be able to fly, we obtained permission from Federal and State Fish and Wildlife to intentionally tame her to be an education bird. We work hard to never tame our wildlife patients because our goal is always to set them free to live their lives out in the wild.
Barn Owls are cavity nesters and very beneficial on ranches and farms. If you see large nest boxes on posts, chances are good that the property owners are trying to attract Barn Owls. It is estimated that a family of Barn Owls will eat as many as 1800 rodents in a breeding season.
Stella teaches us to avoid using poisons and rodenticides in favor of more natural rodent control. When rodents are poisoned, these birds who eat them, and also our pets, may be poisoned as well.
There are many natural solutions that may work and will be safer for you, your pets and wildlife too. Here is a link with four natural options:
https://www.doityourself.com/stry/4-natural-rat-control-methods. Please call us if you are having a nuisance wildlife problem and we will be happy to give you suggestions.
Tri County Wildlife Care is a nonproﬁt organization founded in 1994 and dedicated to the rescue and release of local injured, ill and orphaned wildlife. We work with the public to live in balance with nature and envision a world where people and Wildlife thrive together. For more information, please call 209-283-3245 or visit www.pawspartners.org.