MNA Meeting Bootle Cricket Club 6th October 2012


Steve with Rocky the Eagle Owl

Steve and Marg Dewsnap from Rockcliffe Raptors, Flintshire, North Wales brought in a selection of European Raptors and Owls from their private collection. These included a Barn Owl Tyto alba called Ko’ko, Tawny Owl Strix aluco called Tally, Long Eared Owl Asio otus called Otis, European Eagle Owl Bubo bubo called Rocky, European Kestrel Falco tinnunculus called Emma, Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrines called Flint and Common Buzzard Buteo buteo called  Ziggy.


Emma the Kestrel


Otis the Long-eared Owl

Steve proceeded to give a really informative talk about the birds and observations from his ten years of keeping birds of prey.

Notable facts included:-

Owls have an acute sense of hearing that helps them locate and capture prey. The facial disc acts as a reflector, channelling sounds into the ears.

Owl’s eyes are large in order to see in low light conditions. Owls cannot move their eyes as they are not actually eye balls but elongated tubes. They are held in place by in the skull called Sclerotic rings. The Owl makes up for this by being able to turn its head up to 270 degrees left or right from the forward facing position.

The eye is lubricated by the nictitating membrane, a third concealed eyelid that sweeps horizontally across the eye like a windscreen wiper.


Rocky the Eagle Owl

Owls coat their pellets in saliva when regurgitating them – this prevents heartburn and acid damage to the throat. Barn Owls saliva is black. If you feed the European Eagle Owl and the Barn Owl on the same diet of white rats the Eagle Owl’s pellet is white whereas the Barn Owl’s is coated in black.

The leading edges of an owl’s primary feathers have comb-like serrations. These decrease turbulence and thus the noise of air as it flows over the wing allowing them to fly silently.

Barn Owls have a serrated structure that runs along the inner talon edge of the third digit called a “pectinate claw”. This is generally thought to aid in preening.



Ko’ko the Barn Owl

It is a misnomer that during the characteristic courtship duet between Tawny Owls the male calls ‘twit’ and the female ‘twoo.’ Shortly after moving to their Flintshire base Tally the male Tawny Owl began calling during the evenings which attracted wild Tawny Owls to the garden. Steve noted that one evening Tally would call ‘twit’ and the wild Tawny ‘twoo’ but the next evening the calling sequence would be reversed with Tally calling ‘twoo’ and the wild Tawny ‘twit’. Jemima Parry-Jones MBE – the British authority on birds of prey and director of the International Centre Birds Prey Wildlife Conservation has also noted this fact!


Tally the Tawny Owl

This entry was posted in MNA reports. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply