It’s Almost Halloween — Let’s Zoom With Owls!

We have several species of owls living here in San Vito so let’s have a chat with them. After all, Halloween is just around the corner and owls are prominently featured during this holiday as costumes, pumpkin carvings, cookie decorations and more.

Barn Owl of San Vito. Photo by Angelo Altamura.

First we look to the Barn Owl, Tyto alba, thought by many to be the origin of ghosts. Imagine yourself, crossing a meadow at dusk and flushing this big owl — seeing its soft beige and white, heart-shaped face. With its wings stretched out in flight, it’s the same size as a human child with arms spread wide! Let’s not pretend that wouldn’t give you a fright.

They nest in barns, under bridges and in buildings where human activity is at a minimum. This one  lives in the bell tower of a family chapel. With a diet of small mammals, including mice, rats, shrews, bats and even sleeping birds and large insects, they keep their surroundings vermin-free and are considered farmers’ friends.

Owls in the belfry. Photo by Angelo Altamura.

As to our Zoom call, first we asked this owl if it thought its kind IS the original human ghost story.  Now turn up your volume and follow the prompt to hear what it said: click here to hear. Spooky, right?

Then we asked where they used to live, before humans started building barns, bridges and belfries and it said, click here to hear that. We don’t know about you, but that kind of sounded to us like “None of your business — go away now”.

Special thanks to Angelo and Julia Altamura, new Honorary Members of the SVBC, who generously allowed us to use these wonderful photos.

A peaceful chapel, perfect for Barn Owls! Photo by Angelo Altamura.