A pair of barn owls have been snapped sharing a kiss before snuggling together in the fork of a tree. The birds stayed close to each other as they preened, 'kissed' and flew together in woodland in Lea Marston, Warwickshire.
The barn owls, who found a spot in the trees where they began showing their affections to each other, are not a mating pair but sisters. The moment was captured by Leslie Arnott. 'They are quite hard conditions in the dark woodland and the pair flew for a while before sharing their special moment.' said Leslie. 'They started rubbing heads and getting quite affectionate. Then came the moment they appeared to kiss each other.
'They 'kissed' twice. 'They certainly looked like they tried to kiss but I guess we will never know for sure. 'These owls are very affectionate towards each other and work well together however they are not a breeding pair they are actually sisters. 'They continued their tender behaviour towards one another for around three minutes but the kissing happened twice within that period. 'It was luck as much as skill to catch the split second moment and I'm very glad I did.' said photographer.
Ghostly pale and normally strictly nocturnal, Barn Owls are silent predators of the night world. Lanky, with a whitish face, chest, and belly, and buffy upperparts, this owl roosts in hidden, quiet places during the day. By night, they hunt on buoyant wingbeats in open fields and meadows. You can find them by listening for their eerie, raspy calls, quite unlike the hoots of other owls. Despite a worldwide distribution, Barn Owls are declining in parts of their range due to habitat loss.
Barn Owls swallow their prey whole—skin, bones, and all. About twice a day, they cough up pellets instead of passing all that material through their digestive tracts. The pellets make a great record of what the owls have eaten, and scientists study them to learn more about the owls and the ecosystems they live in. Up to 46 different races of the Barn Owl have been described worldwide. The North American form is the largest, weighing more than twice as much as the smallest race from the Galapagos Islands.
Barn Owl females are somewhat showier than males. She has a more reddish and more heavily spotted chest. The spots may indicate the quality of the female. Heavily spotted females get fewer parasitic flies and may be more resistant to parasites and diseases. The spots may also stimulate the male to help more at the nest. In an experiment where some females' spots were removed, their mates fed their nestlings less often than for females whose spots were left alone. The Barn Owl has excellent low-light vision, and can easily find prey at night by sight. But its ability to locate prey by sound alone is the best of any animal that has ever been tested. It can catch mice in complete darkness in the lab, or hidden by vegetation or snow out in the real world. The oldest known North American Barn Owl lived in Ohio and was at least 15 years, 5 months old.