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Saturday, March 5, 2011

BARN OWL IN MALAYSIA


Barn Owl (Tyto alba) exists in Malaysia and is the most widely distributed species of owl and one of the most widespread of all birds. I study the existence of this birds during my young age at paddy field area during harvesting season. Barn Owl or locally known as "Burung Pungguk Jelapang Padi" or BPJP is also referred to as Common Barn Owl and to distinguish it from other species in the barn-owl family Tytonidae. These form one of two main lineages of living owls, the other being the typical owls (Strigidae). Tyto alba is found almost anywhere in the world except polar and desert regions, Asia north of the Alpide belt most of Malaysia- Indonesia region and the Pacific islands. This article discuss about information of Barn Owl (BPJP) as part of our usefull birds in Integrated Pests Management to control rats in paddy area and oil palm plantation.

Barn Owl also known by many other names, which may refer to the appearance, call, habitat or the eerie, silent flight: White Owl, Silver Owl, Demon Owl, Ghost Owl, Death Owl, Night Owl, Rat Owl, Church Owl, Cave Owl, Stone Owl, Monkey-faced Owl, Hissing Owl, Hobgoblin or Hobby Owl, Dobby Owl, Golden Owl, Scritch Owl, Screech Owl, Straw Owl, Barnyard Owl and Delicate Owl. "Golden Owl" might also refer to the related Golden Masked Owl (T. aurantia). "Hissing Owl" and, particularly in the USA, "screech owl", referring to the piercing calls of these birds. The latter name, however, more correctly applies to a different group of birds, the screech-owls in the genus Megascops. The barn owl's scientific name, established by G.A. Scopoli in 1769, literally means "white owl", from the onomatopoetic Ancient Greek tyto (τυτο) for an owl—compare English "hooter"—and Latin alba, "white".

From my observation in Muar Johor one barn owl manage to feed from about 40 acre of paddy area to capture rats. The owl fly at night and manage to catch the rats in the paddy field from the T-post provided in the farm. One family of barn owl consists of Male, one Female and young or eggs lay in the "Barn Owl Box". Under oil palm plantation the use of Barn Owl are one of the most practical method to reduce the rats population from damaging the oil palm fruit. Previously the estates introduce snakes (may be rat eaten snake - Cobra) but it also cause danger to human.
With the introduction of barn owl , the estate manager reduce the usage of MATIKUS a poisonous rat killer bait.


The Barn Owl is a pale, long-winged, long-legged owl with a short squarish tail. Depending on subspecies, it measures about 25–45 cm (9.8–18 in) in overall length, with a wingspan of some 75–110 cm (30–43 in). Tail shape is a way of distinguishing the Barn Owl from true owls when seen in flight, as are the wavering motions and the open dangling feathered legs. The light face with its heart shape and the black eyes give the flying bird an odd and startling appearance, like a flat mask with oversized oblique black eyeslits, the ridge of feathers above the bill somewhat resembling a nose.

Its head and upperparts are a mixture of buff and grey (especially on the forehead and back) feathers in most subspecies. Some are purer, richer brown instead, and all have fine black-and-white speckles except on the remiges and rectrices, which are light brown with darker bands. The heart-shaped face is usually bright white, but in some subspecies it is browner. The underparts (including the tarsometatarsus feathers) vary from white to reddish buff among the subspecies, and are either mostly unpatterned or bear a varying amount of tiny blackish-brown speckles. It was found that at least in the continental European populations, females with more spotting are healthier on average. This does not hold true for European males by contrast, where the spotting varies according to subspecies. The bill varies from pale horn to dark buff, corresponding to the general plumage hue. The iris is blackish brown. The toes, as the bill, vary in color; their color ranges from pinkish to dark pinkish-grey. The talons are black.

On average, within any one population males tend to be less spotted on the underside than females. The latter are also larger, as is common for owls. A strong female Tyto alba of a large subspecies may weigh over 550 g (19.4 oz), while males are typically about 10% lighter. Nestlings are covered in white down all over, but the heart-shaped facial disk is visible soon after hatching.

The conflict between Barn Owl and Swiftlet Industry (Burung Walit Industry) in Malaysia are new issues in Malaysia. The Barn Owl from the oil palm estates and paddy area managed to attack the swiftlet at late evening to midnight. The barn owl wait at the entrance of the swiftlet structures and attack those swiftlet just to enter the house. It is worst if the barn owl went in the swiftlet structures and most of the inhabitant's are flying out. The swiftlet owner killed the barn owl by shooting down and the cause anger to the paddy farmers and estate managers.
By,
M Anem
Pt Bengkok
Gersik, Ledang,
Johor

3 comments:

  1. Hi, just back from Muar padi field in Sungei balang. I was disappointed not to see any owl in the box in the field. We went to take from 9am to 12 pm as we were delayed. Any advice when and where to see barn owl and take the photo?. My email chromaphoto@gmail.com or graemecky@yahoo.com

    graeme chow, sg.

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  2. Thank you for this interesting article. The plight of the owls and the oil palm industry need to be addressed..... I wonder by who?....

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  3. Just saw a baby near my serdang gita bayu house...

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