Posted Jan 02, 2015
First and foremost, Barn owls are not pets. They are wild animals, and if they are in your care they should continue to be treated in this way. That being said, any bird (for that matter, any animal) can learn through positive reinforcement training. The Barn owl that I work with does free-flight shows, but even though is she is in her teens, and has been doing this her whole life, her "owly-ness" never goes away. She is still easily distracted (a very owl-like quality), and is very hesitant about new people. Obviously, owl diets are straight-forward in that owls eat raw meat, but often times people think that feeding them a steak, or a piece of chicken is enough. In fact, raptors NEED to have things like bones and fur in their diet. It not only provides necessary nutrients for them, but it also helps them to do their natural behavior of "casting" - bringing up a pellet of undigested material. If they do not have enough roughage in their diet, it can be quite difficult for them to cast that pellet back up. Owning a raptor also means being incredibly careful with any handling procedures, always making sure to wear a glove, and doing the responsible thing when working the bird outside and putting on telemetry - a tracking device to make sure you are able to find the bird if you lose sight of it. Barn owls, and raptors in general, are not for the novice birder, or even for the experienced birder. These birds are for people with the proper licenses, permits, and expertise.