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 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, 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 its domain.