Barn Owl asleep on highway

on 18th February 2009

This is Forest Ang’s fascinating encounter with a Barn Owl (Tyto alba) when he was driving in Peninsula Malaysia.

“It was about 9.30am. I was driving to Jitra from Butterworth, when my friend alerted me after he spotted an owl standing under the divider along the North-South Highway at the Alor Star (U) exit. I was about 50 km south of the exit. I reached Alor Star (U) exit at 10.55am. I started clicking with my 200mm lens.

“It was sleeping when I approached the owl from the emergency lane. It seemed to be able to hear my approach (probably camera clicking) and slowly lifted its head toward me (above left). The owl then flew off toward the opposite lane and landed on a branch of the teak tree (above right). Still looking at me and then decided to fly off toward the paddy field landing on the field some 200 m away.

“I am still puzzled for an explaination for the owl to sleep in the middle of the road. Apparently the owl did not bother about the heavy traffic on that Saturday morning.

“Is it injured? No way as the owl could fly without any problem (left).

Could it have slept through the whole day if I have not approach it?

Anyone know of a reasonable explaination?”

Forest Ang
16th February 2009

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

4 Responses

  1. Could possible be an Eastern Grass-owl. As it does not occur in Malaysia, could be an escapee or a vagrant? Can someone confirm?

  2. The name GRASS, probably explained why this owl prefered to stay on the ground (and paddy field)?
    I noticed that it had difficulty balancing on the tree branch.
    So, is this a Grass-owl?

  3. Eastern Grass-owls are largely terrestrial. They normally perch on the ground. Habitat – grasslands, marshes, floodplains, cultivated and cleared areas.

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