The Barn Owl (Tyto alba) has a LOT of common names. Why? Glad you asked...
This bird has one of the most widespread distributions of any land bird. The world distribution of the owl is shown in a properly cited map at http://www.barnowltrust.org.uk/infopage.html?Id=115
Given that range, it occurs in lots of places without barns, and in places with lots of different languages. Wikipedia lists about 20 common names in English.
This particular owl, was first seen roosting on a ledge near the entrance to Leopard's Hill Cave in Zambia. When we disturbed it (we were making a map of the cave, not out disturbing owls on purpose), instead of flying out of the cave it flew into the cave. And oddly, it flew into a dead-end side passage and landed on the floor. I took this photo of the owl on the cave floor as I was surveying into that passage. It stayed there long enough for a photo, but then I had the distinct and maybe unique experience of having an owl try to fly past me in a small cave passage. It gave me a good couple of wing slaps to the head as it left the area.
And then on we went to survey the rest of the cave, which is another whole story as the big room in the cave was just full of army ants (Genus: Dorylus). Must admit that the survey team was moving as fast as I've ever seen.
It was a memorable day.
That baby in the last blog post is now 10 years old. And today got on the bus in the current pic to head off on an adventure of his own to enjoy the snowy mountains of Norway. Times do change.
Ten years ago, we lived in Panama. Our son was just a baby as we took him around on our travels. One day we were out in a Kuna Indian village near Lago Bayano, and this lovely woman asked if she could hold him. I took a quick pic, not a posed shot. It is one of my favorite pictures from our time in Panama.
Keith Christenson - Wildlife Biologist