Luna is a male Barn Owl (Tyto alba) with characteristic white plumage on his chest and legs. As birds of open areas and farmland, these important hunters feed primarily on mice and voles. The facial disk aids in gathering the sounds of their prey, and their asymmetrical ear placement results in an acute ability to pinpoint the source of those sounds. In fact, the nervous system connected to the ears and the structure of the auditory area of the brain is the most complex and advanced of any owl. The barn owl is strongly nocturnal and spends the day resting, although they will hunt during the day when feeding young. Luna was captive bred and purchased from Jonathan Wood of the Raptor Project for education.
Lyra is a female Barn Owl (Tyto alba). Like all species there is variation in the appearance of Barn Owls. Typically, the females have spotted plumage on their throat, breast and belly while males appear whiter in these areas. Females may have a tawny facial disk; while again, the male’s is white. Plumage differences are thought to distinguish the sexes with 97% accuracy. The distinctive heart-shaped facial disk along with other physical characteristics resulted in the placement of Barn Owls in the family Tytonidae which includes Barn and Bay Owls. Typical owls belong in the Strigidae family. Widely distributed through North, Central and South America, Europe, Africa, and parts of Asia and Australia, Barn Owls are on the decline as a result of habitat loss and change. Man-made nest boxes do benefit this species. Lyra was captive bred and purchased in New York for education.
Marlee (Tyto alba) is the first and only offspring of Luna and Lyra. She hatched from one of six eggs – the rest of which were infertile – on May 10, 2016. The incubation period for Barn Owls is 29-34 days and begins when the first egg is laid. The female alone incubates the eggs which she lays at 2-3 day intervals. This results in asynchronous hatching of the chicks, a strategy to ensure the survival of at least some offspring when food is scarce. The female rarely leaves the nest during this time and is fed by the male. The chicks usually begin to hatch in the evening and are out of the shell by morning. They begin to vocalize in the egg and are answered by their mother who also helps them emerge by breaking off bits of shell. The chicks are altricial – hatched with no feathers and eyes closed. By 8-9 weeks of age they have their basic plumage which coincides with their first flight. They depend on their parents for three to five weeks after flying and remain near the nest for an additional month.