Joined the club in 2003, died of unknown causes in 2005.
Tiki was a male common barn owl (Tyto alba) who joined the club in
2003. Due to his close contact with humans at a young age, Tiki became
imprinted upon humans, meaning he was too comfortable around humans to be
returned to the wild, as he never learned the survival techniques necessary
to do so. In 2005, he died suddenly of an unknown cause.
Barn Owls are light to medium brown birds with white or light brown chests
and legs, and have white or light brown heart-shaped facial disks. The
upper part of the wings are gray with white and black speckling, and the
under part of their wings are white. There tends to be a small amount
of sexual dimorphism between males and females with females having slightly
darker plumage with more spotting on their chests and under their wings.
Barn Owls are found throughout North America and adapt well to living in
close proximity to humans. They tend to be found in warmer, drier
climates. On the Palouse, they thrive in the summer but are at the
edge of their winter range. Their thinner feathering and long, un-feathered
toes and legs leave them susceptible to cold temperatures and they often
have difficulty with Pullman winters. Many will not survive if the
weather remains very cold for long, particularly if a heavy snow cover
protects their primary prey (mice).
The majority of their diet consists of small rodents. They are quite
particular to this prey source and often will not take other food, even when
faced with starvation. Growing Barn Owls can eat 4 to 6 mice per bird
each night and it is not uncommon for a pair to raise 4 -5 young to
fledging. Since adults also need 2 to 3 mice for themselves each
night, a single Barn Owl can hunt up to 20 mice in one night! While
working so hard to feed their young, these owls are very valuable for
keeping rodent populations in check.
One of the most impressive aspects of Barn Owls is that they can hunt in
total darkness. They can do this not with echolocation, but instead
with acoustic prey location called triangulation. Their excellent
hearing is what these owls depend on. As with some other species of
owls, Barn Owl ears are slightly off from one another. Their left ear
is higher up than their right ear. This off-set design helps the owl
to hear in 3D. They are also one of a few owls to have a small
external ear flap (pinna) in front of their ear holes, which help the owl
pinpoint exactly where a sound is coming from. Their large facial disk
is actually two in one (one for each ear around each eye). These
structures act like amplifiers and aid in capturing sound. Their bill
is pointed downward to help maximize the surface area of these disks.
Barn Owls have the greatest number of vocalizations of all our owls, but
most are quiet noises made at the nest. The sounds you are most likely
to hear include hisses, screeches, and bill-clapping though they also
twitter softly, coo, and chirp.
Also sometimes called the Ghost Owl, Barn Owls have often been considered
the ghosts of haunted houses, barns, and old castles. Their nocturnal
habits, silent flight, white underside, and eerie screeches can easily
conjure up the impression of a ghost surveying its domain.