Sharing a shed with a Barn Owl


Barn owl droppings

Each morning now when I get to the workshed I do a little search, to find out if my Barn Owl has spent time there overnight.  Underneath the spot where it has been roosting are copious splatters – so I can tell exactly where it has been – along with the pellets and preened small fluffy feathers evidence.

Barn owl droppings

Just as the light begins to fade, I close up the workshop and find a hiding place to watch.  I know the Barn Owl is using the sheds, but haven’t seen it, so over Christmas I spent each evening out, trying to hide, and stay still and quiet.

I couldn’t believe my luck, when after about half an hour the Owl flew out of one shed, and into my workshop.  In the gloom it looked much bigger than I thought it would, and much lighter – it seemed to glow – moving slowly and silently with strong deliberate wing beats.  Utterly thrilling!  I was frozen, stiff from keeping still and knew I shouldn’t make a sound – but I just wanted to leap up and shout gleefully!

I’ve watched it each evening – it gives a soft, low screech before appearing, does  a quick flight over the sheds and then takes up its night roosting spot – and then I leave it alone.  One evening it came out of this hole – just six or seven yards from where I was sitting (in the greenhouse) and it flew right above me, and off away, presumably to hunt.

Hole where the Barn Owl came out

I caught sight of it in this shed during the day too, sitting preening on one of the rafters.  I walked quickly past and pretended I hadn’t seen it.  The last thing I want to do is disturb it, and frighten it off.

It has become something of a preoccupation over Christmas, and I bought myself a present of the wonderful T & AD Poyser – The Barn Owl, by  DS Bunn, AB Warburton and RDS Wilson.  What a brilliant monograph – I’ve learned so much and am now trying to distinguish between the screeches my Barn Owl makes – which ones are about territory and which ones are telling me it knows exactly where I am!

This evening I heard it, but saw nothing – perhaps it has decided to stay under cover as it is so cold.  It seems that Barn Owls have a number of roosts in their territory, and I must be a favourite at the moment.  I’m thinking ahead, I know, but it would be so special to have this one (not sure if it is male or female) find a mate and use my nestbox – I’m willing it to happen.

In the meantime I’m drawing Barn Owls a lot,  and making maquettes for sculpture – and loving the thought of the Barn Owl sitting in the shed next to me, hearing a Barn Owl sculpture being chipped out of a lump of stone.  Wonder what it will think of the likeness!?  I’ve done a little lino-print too, though it is much too harsh and I’m working on more prints, which will give a softer look, but with that intense charisma Barn Owls have, and which has been such a pleasure for me to watch.

Lino print of a Barn Owl





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