Owls of Kansas

(Deb) Welcome back folks. Well the other night, we were walking, Dr. Jake and I went out walking because it had cooled down to what, 80 degrees or something, after the sun went down and the breeze was really nice and it was the night of the blue moon, the second full moon of the month in July. It was just beautiful. It was like you’ve got the whole world to yourself, the fields stretching out in every direction. Then this horrible screeching started. He had pointed out a few days before that there were a couple of owls, like out by the barnyard, he points those out, and we’re a little bit concerned about that because we’ve got all these barn cats and we need all these barn cats because they keep away the rattlesnakes. No joke. So, we got a new crop of kittens, if you need a kitten you can see it, and so we’re kind of noticing the owls, Frank I felt like I was in the middle of a Harry Potter movie with this screeching going on all around us. (Frank) Owls are fascinating, fascinating birds. (Deb): They are fascinating birds, they really are. When they talk about their silent flight, that’s absolutely true. No sound at all when they’re flying, and then you hear screams, and you probably hear the blood curdling scream of what’s being grabbed by the owls and everything, but man they were everywhere. They were on both sides of the country road there; they were just all over the place. (Frank) I have an idea. Do a story on owls. (Deb) I just happen to have one right here. Barn owls are the most widely distributed of any of the owl species, as evidenced by the numerous screeches in the night and the poop in the sheds. Apparently, it lives everywhere but Antarctica. According to the Great Plains Nature Center in Wichita, one of the qualities that makes the barn owl such an efficient hunter is its hearing. Although the barn owl has excellent night vision, its ears may be even more important for catching food. Experiments have shown that prey can be located and captured by sound alone. What amazing creatures! Like many nocturnal animals, barn owls often live in the midst of people without their even knowing. They like to roost high and away in old buildings, sometimes choosing the proverbial hollow tree. Females usually lay at least four eggs, but might have as many as a dozen. Hatching is staggered, so that a nest might have young birds along with those still waiting to break through their eggs. This could help explain why this owl is so prolific. Seemingly every creature that roams the prairies at night feasts on field mice, kangaroo rats, and other rodents. The barn owl is no different. It occasionally varies its diet with insects, lizards, frogs, crayfish, and yes, even snakes. The other owls that live in Kansas are eastern screech owls, the short and long-eared owls, barred owls, burrowing owls, snowy owls, northern saw-whet owls, and Great Horned Owls. Take a walk at night and listen. Chances are, there is an owl listening to you as well.

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