Stevie died of old age at the age of 24 years old in 2007.
Stevie was a male barn owl (Tyto alba) which came to us as a nestling in
1985. He was found on the road by a passing motorist who brought him to us.
Stevie was diagnosed to be blind and could not be released. Stevie was used
for presentations until 2003 when he was retired. He now lives in the
exotics ward full time.
Barn Owls are light to medium brown birds with white or light brown chests
and legs and white or light brown heart-shaped facial disks. The wings seen
from above are gray with white and black speckling. There tends to be a
small amount of sexual dimorphism between males and females with females
having slightly darker plumage and more spotting on their chests and under
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, unfeathered toes and legs leave
them susceptible to cold temperatures and they often have difficulty with
Pullman winters, many will not survive if it stays very cold for long
particularly if a heavy snow cover protects their primary prey - mice.
The majority of their diet is 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, while working so hard to
feed their young, these owls are very valuable for keeping rodent
populations in check.
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.
Barn Owls have often been considered the ghosts of haunted houses, barns and
old castles. Their nocturnal habits, soundless flight, white underside and
eerie screeches can easily conjure up the impression of a ghost surveying