Barn Owl asleep on highway

posted in: Owls | 4

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

4 Responses

  1. YC

    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. Forest

    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. YC

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

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