View Full Version : Barn Owl

Jan. 1, 2009, 09:04 AM
I noticed a large barn owl leave our barn the other night... Our barn was built less than a year ago so I guess we've been officially *discovered* by him now.

I'm happy to welcome him and his ability to keep the mice population down BUT, we lost a female kitty (about 6 months old) a few months ago. Could the barn owl be to blame? I'm only concerned because I was going to replace her, the other barn cat, her brother, seems lonely. The missing kitty was the smaller of the two so I definately will go find a full grown cat at the shelter to replace her vs. a kitten.

Just curious if any of ya'll have had problems with cats vs. barn owls. I don't want to be feeding cats to the owl :winkgrin:

He looked big enough to carry off a cat but I wasn't sure.

Jan. 1, 2009, 09:06 AM
Oh for sure large owls like the Great Horned can easily kill a cat and do they also kill rabbits with no problems. We have them here in our hay barns and love them!!!! Not only mice they eat but pigeons which are a bigger problem. A cat once in awhile? Small price to pay to me.

Jan. 1, 2009, 09:16 AM
They are certainly capable of taking a small kitten, but I think a hawk is a more likely culprit...I am so jealous of you by the way, I would LOVE to have a barn owl...I have owls in the woods around me, but alas no barn owl..I do think your choice of an adult cat versus a kitten makes sense...

Jan. 1, 2009, 10:08 AM
I would love to have a barn owl too.

A Barn Owl could be dangerous to a kitten, but not a full grown cat.

Jan. 1, 2009, 03:08 PM
Feel free to transport that owl to meeeeeeeeeeeeee!!! My cats are all growed up.:)

Jan. 1, 2009, 03:40 PM
Ha! I think I'll put out the welcome mat for him... I like the idea of the barn owl! :D

So sad though, I was reading info on them on the internet and one source said they normally only live a year or two in the wild, up to 7 years in captivity. I really would have thought they had a long life span for some reason.:(

I hope to sneak up on him some time and take his picture. He wasn't in my barn last night but the horses were in so maybe he only likes it when it's vacant.

Jan. 1, 2009, 04:53 PM
If he is a rather recent arrival, he may just be winter visiting. We have owls in our trees when it gets really cold further north. Maybe really deep snow, so harder to find the mice and small animals to eat. I never see them, but you can sure hear them calling in the late night. Really talk a lot! I am inside the house, still hear them easily.

We have modern barns, so they close up tight, no place for owl to enter at night. Our Owls usually only stay a couple months, then leave as the weather gets "less cold" towards spring. We call it "Deep Freeze" weather when we start hearing them hooting at night. Clear, COLD, so pretty outside in the night. Usually snowy with twinkly stars for light. Single digit temps or below, is good Owl weather.

The old neighbor man used to tell us there was a nesting owl in his acreage, but never pointed out the location. He died, but the Owl and descendents are probably still around. The new house owner has not changed anything in the old fence rows or fields. Usually gets hayed once or twice a year with lots of wild woods out behind, easily able to support Owls in numbers.

I would more likely choose another culprit for kitten killing, like raccoons and opossums when kitten got in the way of food. Possum will eat dead cats for sure.

Congrats on your visitor, I consider them a real helpful bird in removing varmints. You are a LUCKY person.

Jan. 1, 2009, 06:33 PM
I was just talking to SO today how I'ld love him to get a hawk for our barn and he corrected me that no, we needed an owl. I would love to get your owl, we have no cats. But as others have said, a Barn owl is too small to take a healthy adult cat, kitten yes. A larger like Great Horned can take an adult.

Jan. 1, 2009, 06:57 PM
I worked in a wildlife rehab place once and dealt with many barn owls. Barn owls would NEVER be able to take an adult cat. They are relatively light, their beaks aren't nearly as strong as a GH Owl and neither are their talons. The feed almost exclusively on mice, other small rodents, insects, and small lizards. And I doubt a Barn Owl would prey on kittens, as their preferred prey is so numerous.

Barn Owls are wonderful to have around. When they are feeding chicks, they kill many times their weight in mice.

Barn Owls, by the way, do not "hoot". If you hear them at all, you will hear a "clicking" sound. If you hear the "hoo hoo", that's probably a GH Owl, which are not going to roost in a barn. They roost in trees.

In all likelihood, your cat was hit by a car or killed by dogs or died of some disease cats get who are not confined indoors.

Also, all birds of prey, including owls, hawks, and falcons, are protected in the US.

Jan. 2, 2009, 07:24 AM
Good luck to your Barn Owl, lucky you!

When I kept my horses on my property, it was bisected by an abandoned rail trail. Kids would often walk the trail and tease my livestock, at least making the dog bark & rooster crow. A few nights in a row I heard kids mimicing a horse whinny. Drove me nuts, especially thinking kids were prowling around my barn at night.
Then BAM! I heard a commotion in my (cold) wood stove. Peeking in, I could see it was a bird that got caught in the chimney. I ran and grabbed an old birdcage and slowly opened the stove to allow the intruder escape to the cage.
Lo & behold, it was a small screech or barred owl. I enjoyed watching him a few minutes before releasing him to the back yard. The fake "whinnying" I had been hearing was a little owl!

I now live in the inner city (re ghetto) and have actually spotted an owl walking the dog in the park! Their flight is absolutely silent!

Jan. 2, 2009, 07:38 AM
I have a big owl that roosts in a tree that borders my property. I LOVE him. He is beautiful. Not sure exactly what kind he is, but given the size of the sucker and that he hoots etc I would guess GH (didn't think we had them in FL?). He's been here since foaling season last year - he "helped" me through every foaling LOL. I do watch my small dog at night now since discovering I had such a large visitor. I also have 2 hawks that live in a tree across the road from me. I love the birds of prey.

Jan. 2, 2009, 08:11 AM
Love love love owls...just one of the coolest birds ever.
I'm sorry you lost one of your barn kittens...but my bet would be a coyote or wandering off if it just disappeared.
When I was a youngster we had a Snowy Owl that came and sat in our crab apple tree every night one winter...right before dusk and would sit there about an hour or two until it was dark and take off. I used to bundle up for the cold and go sit on my front porch and watch it. Absolutely gorgeous...not to mention the coolest thing was watching a bird of that size take off and fly right over you and not make a single sound...silent fliers. Way cool!
We have a horned owl who comes around once in a while...I hear it more than see it. Haven't seen a barn owl in ages, would be nice to have one for my barn. Although Fred and Ginger (my spring/summer swallows) wouldn't be amused.

Jan. 2, 2009, 08:29 AM
I now live in the inner city (re ghetto) and have actually spotted an owl walking the dog in the park! Their flight is absolutely silent!

Wow! That must have been some owl to be walking a dog! :lol: :lol: :lol:

Sorry, I realize it's simply a sentence structure/syntax issue but it sure was funny! :D :lol:

Alas, no owls by us :( Plenty of hawk and falcon, tho, along with bats.

Jan. 2, 2009, 08:54 AM
The call pattern of the GH is:
who cooks for you, who cooks for you (4 hoots, 4 hoots)

The call pattern of the barred owl is:
who cooks for you, who cooks for you all (4 hoots, 5 hoots)

We have a barred living in our area, and some screech owls as well. I love it when it starts hooting at night. What a treat!

Vesper Sparrow
Jan. 2, 2009, 09:09 AM
Lo & behold, it was a small screech or barred owl. I enjoyed watching him a few minutes before releasing him to the back yard. The fake "whinnying" I had been hearing was a little owl!

That would make it a screech owl. I am so jealous of the OP's Barn Owl. They rarely make it up here and are an occasion for celebration by birders when they do.

My route to the barn takes me through very flat farm country with large open fields and in winter I can usually see one or more Snowy Owls flying or perching on barn roofs.

Jan. 2, 2009, 09:26 AM
Barn owls are getting very endangered, and they are SO beautiful so take good care of yours! Here in central Ohio the most plentiful owl is the great horned owl, and I enjoy trying to mimic their call ( who cooks for you!) at night because sometimes they'll call back! Love that! We also have a number of barred owls, who are gorgeous. The only time I've seen a Snowy Owl was dead on the side of the road in Iowa and it was practially untouched... so beautiful I almost stopped and picked it up...so sad.

Jan. 2, 2009, 04:55 PM
Wow! That must have been some owl to be walking a dog! :lol: :lol: :lol:

Sorry, I realize it's simply a sentence structure/syntax issue but it sure was funny! :D :lol:

Alas, no owls by us :( Plenty of hawk and falcon, tho, along with bats.

I also was reading about the neat owl that was walking the dog.:lol:

Our neighbor killed a great big owl, wingspan easily over 6', that kept getting his chickens, when he found him one day in there having an early chicken supper.
I was a little kid and knew where the owl was nesting, climbed the pine tree and got two little ones, still with down, no feathers, out of the nest and brought them home.
My father helped me raise them in a big cage he made for them.
We had a school function where we were representing the middle ages and I got to parade the two owls in their cage, as people in those times used to do, being short of entertainment.
That was a great treat for all, to see the half grown owls.
I am sure all of us still remember them.

My father made them a nesting box, put it up in the pine tree the nest had been and, once they were feathered, we put them up there, but kept feeding them.
We watched them fly and hover around for a few weeks, until one day they were gone.
After that, one owl for a few years kept coming to nest in that wood box.
Luckily, not one of those owls had a taste for chicken.:)

Here, our barn is open in front and at times there is a tan looking owl staying here.
He is not scared of anything and stays for a few days, getting rabbits I think and then moves on.
I keep an eye on my little dog when that owl is around, but it has not bothered her any, just sits on the fence.

Jan. 2, 2009, 10:38 PM
We are Owl Central here; have several sizes/varieties, year round. We are surrounded by working farms (some row crops, some cattle pastures, plus sheep) and have a creek running close to the house with some dense woodlots.

The most common calls we hear are the ones we call the wha-hoo birds "wa-wa-wa-hoo!". THAT will get you up from a deep sleep. And some nights there are several of them wa-hoo-ing and gurgling back and forth at each other.

And our barn kitty's official name is The Owl Cat. She was a stray that came to stay, but for the first month or so we only saw her in the rafters as she was rather shy of people. She got over that in a hurry and doesn't even hold a grudge when we take her to the vet.

Jan. 3, 2009, 01:16 AM
Owls kill cats.

Jan. 3, 2009, 09:15 AM
They like high areas in a barn. I built a nesting spot in a barn at my daughters farm. It was just an old orange crate with sticks of all sizes and some straw. It was on a cross beam in the middle of the loft. I had to cut a small hole up over the door to the loft as she kept closeing the doors.I made one at each end. It wasn't only a couple of weeks that we saw that the owl was infact entering the barn and useing the nest. It had fur and bones in it and a few feathers. The owl was a member of the family after that. I guess other owls have used the place as this was maybe 12 yrs ago. We still see and hear them now and then. I would think one could find ways to attract these great birds on the net. If they can keep your place clean of mice, rats and birds???

Jan. 3, 2009, 03:50 PM
Barn owl vs. a six-month-old kitten? HIGHLY unlikely. He might be able to kill it if he got lucky and hit it just right, but unless it was a very small cat he wouldn't be able to carry it off. A coyote might get lucky (cats can frequently evade coyotes as they can climb) but a raccoon or possum is a much more likely culprit. That or a car strike or she got sick and hid somewhere to die.

Quin: if the "wha-hoo" is a descending note a bit like a "whinny", you sound like you have eastern Screech owls.

Jan. 3, 2009, 10:41 PM
An owl can kill any cat it wants . Don't be silly. Coyotes would also kill cats all night long. Skunk or coon, uh no. Not unless they're fighting the cat for the same dang mouse.

Jan. 4, 2009, 12:12 AM
Depends on the size of the owl, some of them are pretty small!

My parents have a burrowing owl that lives in their storm drain. It is not a busy street but there are a lot of dogs and foot traffic, plus the storm drains backs up when it rains. I have no idea why but it has been there on and off for several years and raised a few broods so I guess it works.

Jan. 4, 2009, 12:38 AM
We have a pair of GH owls that hang around the old ranch house. I love to hear them at night. Doesn't happen all the time, so to hear the owls of a night is a real treat! There's a pair that hang around the barn where I keep my mare. BO's wife worries about her West Highland Terriers. Sounds like the doggies would be too big for the GH's, right?

We have lots of prairie dogs and subsequently, lots of burrowing owls. When I was a kid, I enjoyed riding through the prairie dog towns (slowly!) and watching for the little owls. They'd stand by their burrows, bobbing up and down or flying in a circle around my horse and me as we rode by.

I adore owls! What wonderful, interesting, beautiful birds!

Jan. 4, 2009, 09:06 AM
This is the owl that I have... http://www.owlpages.com/owls.php?genus=Strix&species=varia

Pretty interesting site.

Jan. 4, 2009, 09:24 AM
Presuming what you call a barn owl is the same as what we have here, then no they don't take cats or kittens. They're too small.

Is this what you mean?


I'm privileged to currently have 8 pairs of barn owls on different parts of my premises.

In the main they eat voles and also take things like mice, shrews and occasionally rats - but more particularly young rats.

The reason I have so many is that I've got old fashioned barn buildings but more importantly the farming here means there's a lot of hedrows and good grass land and hence there's a very healthy vole population.

You're really lucky to have them on your premises and they need to be encouraged and please be very careful if you lay down rodent poison - ensure it's the sort that doesn't cause secondary poisoning and its placed in the likes of tubes so the owns can't take it.

We've also got tawny owls and little owls, buzzards, peregrine falcon, kestrals and ravens and they don't take cats either!

p.s. We've also got cats - a lot of them

Jan. 4, 2009, 09:41 AM
A couple years ago, in the fall, I had a few nights of a strange visitor in the woods who sounded like an alien version of a small dog. This would be shortly after dark and it would be so close it would spook the dogs, the horses and me. My boyfriend at the time (now husband) was never around when it showed up and teased me that I was nuts.
The next fall, same thing. finally figured out that it was an owl. Apparently, they are great mimics and can make all sorts of noises.
We mostly hear the great horned owls here, and they drive my one dog nuts! She spent all night chasing one. He started calling near the barn and she took off barking like nuts, this was 7pm. He would fly off a bit, and hoot, and she would take off after the noise and bark. At 3am, she sounded like she was a half mile away, and still "who-ho-ho-ho" barkbarkbarkbark.
She was exhausted the next morning. I did have a little worry that he was luring her to some elaborate owl gang meeting where a dozen owls would all jump her. She's a german shepherd, so no fear one on one (ok and I know, gang attacks by owls are way down these days..)
They are super cool to hear at night. Love them!

Jan. 4, 2009, 09:57 AM
Owls kill cats.

cowboymom please do not perpetuate false information

Very large owls, The Great Horned, can potentially take a small cat. Most other owls are too small to tackle anything over 5 pounds.

Owls (and most birds of prey) are actually very light and small (inside their feathers. Taking on large (and potentially aggressive) prey species is simply not in their ability. They are more likely to stumble upon road kill than take anything beyond a 4 month kitten.

Any disappearing cat I would put to car dogs (coyote) and raccoon (not opossum) and other people not birds of prey

I feel sorry for the birds of prey who must succumb to the farmer who feels his right to have free range chickens supersedes the right of a natural animal to exist in its dwindling natural habitat.

Jan. 4, 2009, 10:01 AM
An owl can kill any cat it wants . Don't be silly. Coyotes would also kill cats all night long. Skunk or coon, uh no. Not unless they're fighting the cat for the same dang mouse. Don't be silly.... it's a barn owl! It's not an eagle owl. It's not a coyote. It's a barn own.

Repeat after me...... Barn owls don't take cats.

They're too little. Have you ever felt the weight of a barn owl? They don't normally even weigh a pound.

Jan. 4, 2009, 07:35 PM
We have had owls living on our property for at least 6 years. They now roost on top of our roll-up doors in our indoor arena. Each year there are owlets (sp?). I doubt we are still on our original pair, but every year there is at least one pair living on the farm.

They definitely eat rabbits, mice, and rats. We see the pellets containing bones all over the place. We also see rabbit "skins" and fur tufts laying under their roost. We lost a small cat last year. I'm not sure if the predator was an owl or a coyote, but the cat was hanging around one evening and gone the next morning.

I love the owls!

Jan. 4, 2009, 09:45 PM
Well, I'm convinced it wasn't the owl who got the cat.

It could very well have been a coyote, we have plenty of those. We have a donkey so I've never seen one on our property but the barn cats do venture into the neighbor's pastures.

Tell me more about your experience with possums... I trapped 3 possums in the barn over a period of a month during the time the kitty disappeared. I killed two of them and relocated one (he looked too healthy so I felt a little bad and drove him many miles away and released him). I know about the EPM risk so I won't usually let allow one to come into my barn and live to tell about it :mad:

Now, what astonished me is that my male kitty (about 9 months old) had NO fear of the possums... got within a few feet of them when they were loose and then walked right up to the cage when they were trapped. Yeah, they were mean, hissing and growling but didn't act like they would attack the cat... Maybe a disagreement over food? I think I've locked up all food sources they would be interested in so I don't think they will be back but that's probably what got my sweet kitty....

And we have TONS of Red-tailed Hawks. I love to watch them hunt!

Jan. 5, 2009, 09:39 AM
I am sorry about your barn kitty, but I think you are right...it probably wasn't the Barn Owl. I just finished a great book about a barn owl: 'Wesley The Owl" (www.wesleytheowl.com) by Stacey O'Brien. She was a biologist at Cal Tech who studied owls and she hand raised an injured baby owl named 'Wesley".

We have owls in the woods behind us and I have always been fond of them. After reading Wesley's story, I am now completely fascinated by them. I think it's an honor that the owl chose your barn.

Jan. 5, 2009, 11:00 AM
Opossums do not kill live animals, unless they happened to stumble upon an infant mammal. They scavenge like vultures, but are omniverous. They also have very bad eyesight. Cats are not afraid of possums because cats, in the natural world, prey on Opossums.

However, if cornered, they will lead snout first. They have fifty sharp teeth and a strong jaw. They are also very slow, which cats figure out pretty fast.

Jan. 5, 2009, 02:30 PM
Given the body weight ratio, I would hate to see the cat that could take out a full-grown possum. And raccoons can also kill them. No, they don't PREDATE them (they're not killing for a meal a la a red-tail or a coyote) but they can mangle or kill them. Possums in particular are nasty creatures, and the fewer of them in one's barn the better. And again, a coyote needs to get lucky to take cats--they will if they can, but cats climb. An open field, the coyote can outrun them, in a situation where the cat can go up, the coyote can't follow.

As Thomas says--a BARN OWN (this is a SPECIES name--there are dozens of owl species, it's not "an owl") isn't going to kill a cat. It might if it got really lucky break one's back but unless we're talking newborn kitten I doubt very much it could carry one off. Barn owls kill small rodents (we're talking mice here). If they got into a tangle with a full-grown cat it's fifty-fifty who'd come out in one piece.

Given that in our experience you practically have to beat the livetrap with a stick to get a skunk to even notice you (we have one who traps himself on purpose for the bait and shelter and waits patiently to be let out in the morning) I can't see a cat being killed by a skunk even in a defensive situation where the skunk felt threatened. They have...uh, other means of scaring off predators.

Red-tailed hawk or the larger buteos (the ones big enough to take rabbits, for example), maybe a great-horned owl (or an eagle owl if you're where they live) could maybe take a cat if they had the chance. They're big enough. Your average North American owl species (Barn, Screech, Barred, etc) isn't likely to try, and the two teenies (Sawwhet and Boreal) could probably be taken out by a large enough cat who got lucky.

Jan. 5, 2009, 02:43 PM
A friend of mine, former BM, told me about an incident involving one of her cats and a GH Owl. We had a pair that hung around this barn and often saw them silhouetted against the evening sky, sitting on the roofs of neighboring buildings. But I digress.

One evening, BM friend, her husband and one of the cats were on their second-floor balcony. The cat was sitting on the balcony rail. This owl swooshes down and knocks the cat off the rail! No harm to the cat, fortunately, but everyone was understandably shaken.

I have no idea if the owl was just having a little fun, if he intended to "take" the cat, then decided not to at the last moment, or if the cat took a dive off the rail in self-defense. Wish I'd seen it myself!

Jan. 5, 2009, 04:01 PM
My trainer had a couple owls that would come and sleep in the indoor arena at night. One night me and my gelding were riding in the arena and the owl missed the hole that was cut out for them to go in and out and hit the side of arena. Needless to say my Peppy is now terrified of Owls and is always looking for them when we ride.

Interestingly enough me and my trainer were just talking about owls on Saturday because we have had alot of snow here in the PNW over the last three weeks and his arena owls have disappeared. The local bird sanctuary said that many owls die during long periods of snow when they cannot feed on a daily basis. It seems that they are not very hardy at all.

Jan. 11, 2009, 01:10 AM
Here in Montana we have Great Owls which surely can and do eat cats...

I thought it was obvious that a bird smaller than the actual kitten couldn't kill said kitten.

owls kill cats given the opportunity.

Jan. 11, 2009, 01:57 AM
Great Horned owls only weigh 3-4 pounds. They look big enough but are mostly feathers.

Barn owls only weight less than a pound usually.

Jan. 11, 2009, 02:24 AM
Now you absolutely must NOT use rat/mice bait. Not good for the owl or your cat if they consume a toxic rat/mouse.

Jan. 12, 2009, 01:55 PM
I have an old bank barn that supports a small-med size bat family. Can a barn owl co-exist with bats? I'd love to put an owl house in there for them IF they will come.

Stupid question of the day... HOW will the owl find the box? I can put one in the rafters of the bank barn (30' ceilings) or in the rafters of the machinery shed (about 15' high)...or both. I just can't imagine them "knowing" there is a house built for them inside a building?

THEN.... I'd love to put up a few purple martin houses around the farm. Then I'd have my flies, mosquitos, and mice all taken care of!!!

Jan. 12, 2009, 07:52 PM
I've never heard anything about owls and bats NOT coexisting, but then I've never heard anything to the effect that they do, either.

Re the box, they'll find it if they're looking in the loft (where they'd be looking anyway) for a nest site. I would be careful with the bank barn--while it's got a better ceiling height, if the bats are already in there they might just take over the box as they like dark hidey-holes, too!

As far as martin houses go, the one thing you need to know is to actually get martins, as opposed to wrens or English sparrows, to take them, is they need a lot of open space around them. Martins ideally like having a big open meadow to fly through. For bugs, I would also put up boxes to encourage tree swallows and bluebirds.

Jan. 13, 2009, 09:24 AM
Thanks! I'll look into the houses for the different birds. I've been googling owl information. There are a few non profit orgs out there- I'll email them and ask about co-existence with bats and take their advice on owl house placement... Thanks again!!:)

Jan. 18, 2009, 11:01 AM
The other night I was putting one of the horses out and as I walked back to the barn I saw that beautiful, graceful creature glide into the barn. I really was wanting to identify what kind of owl he was for sure so I snuck to the edge of the barn door and sure enough, it's a barn owl.

He/She is so magnificent!! I couldn't believe how tall and proud he/she looked perched on top of one of the stall dividers. We watched each other for a minute and then it flew off. His/her wing span is huge!

I'm just glad he/she let me see him/her for a moment and maybe next time I'll be able to get some pictures.

I have been keeping the barn close up lately to keep the chickens out of it (they are SO messy) and because it's been nice enough for the horses to stay out in pasture but I'm going to have to break down and keep the doors open. I want to put a box up for him/her as well.

What an awesome creature!:D

blue phlox farm
Jan. 18, 2009, 08:33 PM
I've read through all these threads with a "birder's" interest. Curious to know if the observed owl was actually a barn owl as most of them prefer a quiet, non-peopled barn loft. They are so shy that to see one in the daytime is very rare unless it was startled from where it was roosting. They are too small as noted by others here to take a cat, nor would they try, since it's not on their menu. Young owls commonly starve to death in their first winter if they can't find their usual diet due to prolonged snow or rain making their hunting efforts hopeless. I have two "owl stories" for those who think a one pound screech owl is a wuss, and a GH owl doesn't dine on cats. About 25 years when I moved to my farm I was getting over run with pidgeons in my bank barn loft. I tried closing up the barn but they would find their way back in no matter what I did. Finally I started to live trap them. When I would have more them half caught and stuffed in bunny hutches (about 20 birds) I put them all in boxes (re-catching them out of the bunny hutches was worth a funniest home video prize) and I drove them about 10 miles away to where I knew other pidgeons lived at an underpass on a highway...thought they'd like it there with their own kind. Sad to say, they beat me home. When I drove up my driveway, there they were on my barn roof...all of them! That winter I went in the loft one night to toss down hay bales when I heard the clicking of a screech owl. I quickly closed the big barn door to the bank then went looking for my visitor. Found him perched on top of a very dead, but bigger than him, pidgeon. I had a "let nature take it's course" solution to my pidgeons. I kept the little guy trapped in my barn for several weeks and feed the pidgeons cracked corn and made sure there was water. He killed and ate about ten pidgeons. I'd find his "pellets" but seldom saw him. He'd click away at me from the rafters if I wandered too close to him. I finally opened the big barn door one day and the surviving pidgeons took off for a safer home, never returning. Don't know how soon the owl escaped to the wild.
As for GH owls eating cats, I can't say they all will, but I have personal experience with a suburban GH owl who took several cats a week while feeding it's babies. I had a neighbor whose back deck was under a large hemlock tree. Land near her was once open fields and a tree nursery, but had become a large housing development. In the tree over her deck, a GH owl was raising a family so she would find strange wild animal parts tossed out of the nest as well as the usual pellets. Then she started to find the cats. I stopped to see the worst of the cat bodies. It was a head with the spine more or less still attached. Seems like the mom found the housing development cats easy picking. There was about 6 cats that spring who fed the owls. Mom didn't return to that nesting site after that but it was a gruesome spring on my friend's deck. Ironically, most of the cats were black and white, and skunks are common meals for the GH owl.

Jan. 18, 2009, 11:00 PM
I am sorry about your barn kitty, but I think you are right...it probably wasn't the Barn Owl. I just finished a great book about a barn owl: 'Wesley The Owl" (www.wesleytheowl.com (http://www.wesleytheowl.com)) by Stacey O'Brien. She was a biologist at Cal Tech who studied owls and she hand raised an injured baby owl named 'Wesley".

I'm about 3/4 of the way throught that book right now, very interesting read!

Jan. 19, 2009, 11:44 AM
I, too, love owls. They are just majestic.

But I breed Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, so when I have a litter of puppies, they are NOT permitted outside when dusk begins approaching - until they are at least 3 months old. We have seen several Great Horned in this area and I don't want to risk it!

Frank B
Jan. 20, 2009, 09:02 AM
They're nature's pest control. A recent program on Discovery Channel referred to them as "ruthlessly efficient killing machines".