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Barn owl        Images © Mark A. Chappell

The common barn owl is one of the most successful of all bird species, occurring on many of the world's continents (recent studies suggest there may be several species, for example, this one from Australia).  They have superb hearing, due to their characteristic heart-shaped faces that funnel sound to their ears.   The ears themselves are asymmetrical, which provides '3-dimensional' acoustic sensitivity that lets these birds catch prey in complete darkness (if the prey is making some noise).   The barn owl in two of the pictures -- a female, identifiable by her buffy undersides -- was out early in the morning at the San Jacinto Wildlife Area in southern California, and briefly paused on a fence post and a willow tree. The others were at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum near Tucson.

  • Canon 1D4 or 7D2; 800 mm IS lens with 1.4X converter; fill-in flash (2012, 2015)