Barn owl feather ©Sue Hetherington, Floodplain Forest NR 17 July 2019

Feather identification

Many thanks to Colin Dockety for leading tonight’s (16 July 2019) field trip to Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve. With my “birders” hat on, my attention was quickly drawn to a pile of feathers on the very first field leading down to the reserve proper.

I find feathers quite tricky to identify – identification is so easy when a whole bird is seen but individual feathers are another matter. The whole group looked at the feathers, but it was Ayla Webb who knew what they were – a barn owl.  We wondered what on earth could have led to the demise of this bird?

Ayla pointed out that the barbs towards the bottom of each feather were much more downy than in other birds’ feathers – this being an adaptation that allows the barn own to fly silently.

I checked this id when I got home using a free website.  This is the website of Michel Kleeman, here http://www.michelklemann.nl/verensite/start/

Sadly, I agree that a barn owl had perished recently on that field. Note that birds are arranged in this database by scientific name and this the barn owl is listed as Tyto alba.

I’ve included this link to the feather id database as I thought that it could be of interest to other members.

Text and photo by Sue Hetherington