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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!!!