actorartathleteauthorbizcrimecrosspostcustomerservicedirectoredufoodgaminghealthjournalistmedicalmilmodpostmunimusicnewsworthynonprofitotherphilpolretailscispecialisedspecializedtechtourismtravelunique

ScienceIAmA biologist who studies flammulated owls (tiny owls that are less than six inches tall). AMA!

Mar 1st 2018 by atlasobscura • 18 Questions • 1458 Points

Hi everyone! I am Niall Ferguson. I am the Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a senior fellow of the Center for European Studies, Harvard, where I served for twelve years as the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History. I am also a visiting professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing, and the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation Distinguished Scholar at the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC. I have written fifteen books, including The Pity of War, The House of Rothschild, Empire, Civilization and Kissinger, 1923-1968: The Idealist, which won the Council on Foreign Relations Arthur Ross Prize. I am an award-making filmmaker, too, having won an international Emmy for my PBS series The Ascent of Money. In addition to writing a weekly column for the Sunday Times (London) and the Boston Globe, I am the founder and managing director of Greenmantle LLC, an advisory firm. I also serve on the board of Affiliated Managers Group. My new book, The Square and the Tower, was published in the U.S. in January.

Proof: https://i.redd.it/3chnemwo7ni01.jpg

You can find me online here:

EDIT: And that's it folks. It's 11:02am in Stanford and I have to get back to my day job. Thanks to all of you for really great questions. My RSI is now killing me, but it was fun!

Q:

Are small owls filled with an equal amount of rage and malice as their larger counterparts or is it scaled down with their size?

A:

How did you experience Thatcher's politics? As a photojournalist living and documenting back then you must have witnessed a lot e.g. her cuts in welfare and the falklands war. How did the labour class respond?


Q:

What is the weirdest thing you discovered in your research?

A:

It depends on what prey they consume. The Flammulated Owl feeds on insects, therefore it is less aggressive than other owls. Albeit, if I approach a nest with young the adults may be aggressive and dive-bomb me.


Q:

I experienced it first hand and covered the coal strikes in the North East of England. And I saw first hand the devastation of mining communities where there was literally no food in many cases that mothers and fathers could put on the table for their children. The police were more like a state agency, administering rough justice to anyone who was opposing the closure policies. The brutality was in many cases appalling and certainly of the same brutality which I had witnessed in Ireland and in other civil wars and riots around the world. I photographed the effects of the strike of both individuals and communities and I saw the levels of poverty into which people were forced. I also witnessed how communities have been divided, between those who worked and those who were forced to go back to work.

The labour class responded with a great deal of resistance on all levels across England. Particularly students were outraged by Thatchers policies and I think even her supporters were sometimes appalled by the consequences of her strategies and her determination to crush the working classes and defeat any opposition to her policies.

A:

The strange truth about the Illuminati. After all the crazy conspiracy theories, it was really gripping to read about this weird little South German sect of radical Enlightenment thinkers in the 1770s who thought they could infiltrate the Freemasons and undermine Roman Catholicism.


Q:

What's the strangest interaction you've ever had with a tiny owl?

A:

Thank you! I’ll definitely check out your book!


Q:

What advice would you give someone on the academic job market in the humanities, particularly in history? What type of networks did you find helpful as a young scholar in landing a teaching and researching job?

A:

When I worked on my Masters observing nocturnal food deliveries, one male knew I was there and hovered above my head (3ft away) for about 20 seconds before taking off. It made my heart stop for a second.


Q:

Great – let me know if you have any difficulties. Best wishes, David

A:

If you're even slightly right-leaning, keep it secret until you have tenure. These days the degree of ideological conformism is even worse than it was in the 1980s, when I was starting out. Then there were still Tory dons at Oxford and Cambridge, whose support was vital to me: notably Norman Stone, Jack Plumb and Maurice Cowling, as well as Jeremy Catto. That was a wonderful network, as they were both brilliant and fun.


Q:

Owls can hover? I thought that was just hummingbirds and insects. TIL

A:

Is there any advice you would like to give to somebody aspiring to be a photojournalist?


Q:

How much of your time do you dedicate to reading history?

A:

Yes many birds can hover, just not as long and as efficiently as hummingbirds.


Q:

Hi and thanks your very interesting question. When I started out as a photojournalist in the 1960s the world very different place, both photographically and in every other sense, than it is today. However although the techniques have changed significantly at the technology firstly improved, there are still some basic guidelines for those wishing to start on this career. When I left photographic college I was sure the national newspapers would be only too happy to employ the as a staff photographer – at that time the Daily Express, for example, had 64 full-time staff photographers. How wrong I was! After about 60 turn downs I got a job working for a small news agency in the North West of the UK. After a few weeks I realised I could do the same job of selling pictures for myself so came back down south and worked as a freelance for by local newspapers. After a while I became known to Fleet Street editors who began to commission me to cover local jobs. I then moved to Fleet Street and worked from there and from Paris for major magazines such as Life, Paris Match, et cetera. These days I am by no means sure that such a path exists but you could start by seeing whether it does. Develop a good news sense when it comes to pictures which editors will want to buy. Read lots of local newspapers and local websites, listen to local radio immerse yourself in the community as much as possible and cultivate special groups within communities that are most likely to feel affinity with you. For example if you are young then mixing with younger people will probably be easier than older ones. Listen out for any ideas that you could turn into a picture, or better yet, a series of pictures as this will bring in more money. Learn to write so that you can provide illustrated articles or at least well captured photographs which will be far more likely to attract and enters interest than those with little or no text where she or he has to commission a journalist to write the copy for you. You can also try following a specialist route as there are still a number of markets for people with a niche interest, whether this is dogs or horses, classic cars or garden furniture! If you yourself have an interest in any of these you might well find a ready market in the smaller specialist magazines. Once you have gutted with the editor and she/he knows you can be relied upon to provide reliable copy and pictures to deadline you are likely to find yourself with regular commissions. Use this as the basis for expanding your range of interests and contacts. Learn how to speak to people on the phone to set up assignments and persuade those reluctant to be photographed to let you take pictures of them. The more exclusive the images you could provide the more likely they are to sell at the higher the price you could get from them, but don't expect to become a millionaire! If you go to my website www.thewayitwas.com and look at the photographs there this may provide you with some help in identifying what a newsworthy all magazine worthy picture looks like and how it should be shot. If I had to give you just two pieces of advice then getting close – viewers like to feel part of the picture rather than distant observers – and make the key part of the picture stand out from the background clutter as far as possible, for instance by using a long lens to blur the surroundings. Hope this helps and the best of luck for your future. David

A:

A minimum of two hours every day, including the work of my students, manuscripts people send me to read, historical articles. I wish it could be more, but I end up doing stuff like this instead!


Q:

Oh! How long can they hover? How large are their wings relative to their bodies? Anything like hummingbirds?

A:

Just FYI the link you provided leads to a dead page.

https://thewayitwas.uk/


Q:

Thank you for doing the AMA! I wrote a term paper on The Pity of War in college and thoroughly enjoyed your challenges to the conventional wisdom about WWI—I’ve even read the book a second time independent of any course work.

Do you consider yourself to be a historical contrarian? If so, at what point in your education and/ or career do you think you realized this? What do you think has led you to view many historical events and phenomena differently from other historians and commentators?

A:

I never tested this beyond that one observation, but I suspect that they can hover for about 30 seconds maybe a bit more. Since they are migratory they have relatively long wings compared to their body size. Wingspan is about 16 inches and their body length from top to the longest tail feather is about 6.5-7 inches.


Q:

Thanks your emailI am sorry that you had some problems but the link does work and even access the site using the URL you sent me. Possibly you could try again.

A:

Worth reading / seeing The History Boys by Alan Bennett on this. I was always taught to challenge conventional wisdom when writing history essays. Otherwise, why bother? So the conventional wisdom on the First World War was just sitting there waiting to be challenged: that the war was a tragedy, but somehow inevitable. The Pity of War is a direct assault on that. Probably teaching the subject at Oxford pushed me further along the contrarian path. Students would come in with essays that said the same old thing, and my job was to ask: "Are you sure about that? What if Britain had simply stayed out?"


Q:

Do you ever refer to wet ones as "moist owlets"?

A:

Do you see any way in which neuromarketing is used unethically?


Q:

In "The Square Tower" you show that top-down and bottom-up are simply networks with different topologies. When you think about economic history, it seems evident that some kind of Hayekian combinatorial bottom-up process reigns supreme (i.e. Google in a garage). However, inside many of the most successful technology companies, there is a very deliberate top-down command-and-control style of leadership.

Do you have to specify your "level of analysis" when making the distinction between "top-down" and "bottom-up"? For instance, in my example the economy of Silicon Valley is bottoms-up while at the company level things are top-down.

EDIT: Fixed typo in book title :-)

A:

Actually, that line is part of our field humor because as a matter of fact, I always carry a can of moist (t)owlets with me after handling birds, because you can’t avoid having them defecate on you when taking measurements and banding them.


Q:

The techniques we were using when I first invented Neuromarketing involved attaching electrodes to the scalps of volunteers to read the electrical activity in their brain while they were being exposed to a particular stimulus, such as a new packaging design all TV commercial. The problems here are that the sample size must inevitably be small which makes the data somewhat unreliable. Second games work in such unique individual fashions that while there are, obviously, commonalities there are also very great differences making the data sets hard to compare. We studied the results intensively for the year before deciding a new approach was needed. My company Mindlab International - www.themindlab.co.uk now employs not only neuroscientists and psychologists but a great number of physicists and mathematicians as well as computer scientists who design increasingly refined algorithms by which to analyse brain responses over the Internet. This means that operating from the Science Park at the University of Sussex we can operate in any country in the world (with a few obvious limitations) and with a large subject set at a four lower cost than in the days of flying EEG equipment around the world.

A:

That's a great question. The problem in the Valley is now that FANG / GAFA / The Four Horsemen have way too much money and are increasingly hierarchical in structure (an inevitable consequence of their scale). The startups in the garages are now just bidding to get big enough to be bought by them, while trying to avoid just being sucked dry of engineering talent (the more common fate). So the structure of the Valley is very different from the way it was in the 1990s. Moonshots by the Big Four seem to me less likely to produce real breakthroughs than a more distributed network of innovation.


Q:

What led to your interest in studying flammulated owls?

A:

Best books to read on psychopaths, narcissists, and brain washing?

Just so people don't troll me. I am fascinated by the subject. Not trying to be one.


Q:

In your recent interview with Sam Harris, you seemed to sidestep criticisms of Kissinger by saying that if he's a war criminal, then so is Obama, etc. Since this is not a political question but a legal one, and since many of us are perfectly willing to follow you on your point about Obama, what is an actual substantive argument for your lenient stance on Kissinger's actions?

A:

It was more the luck of the draw. When I was looking for a Masters of Science project and connected to federal agencies, this project was available and I jumped on it. My interest hasn’t stopped yet.


Q:

Hi good question. lots of good books on the subject and I suggest you search for them on Amazon or Google. I have conducted the research into the subject of mind control and have even made a short video on the topic which had a post on the www.thewayitwas.uk Facebook. I have one book which could be a special interest to your studies based on the appalling work done on mental patients by a Canadian psychiatrist in the last decades of the last millennium. I will dig out the title and getting across to you in a subsequent email. Good luck with your searches it's a fascinating area. David

A:

I haven't begun writing vol. II, so I wasn't side-stepping Sam's question, just making sure I didn't preempt myself. My argument is for consistency. My hunch is that either there are a lot of war criminals who have led the State Department / U.S. government or none, depending on your definition. What seems highly implausible to me is that there is only one, and that is Kissinger. Remember, the main basis for this claim is a really shoddy little book by my old friend Chris Hitchens. He was many things, but a lawyer wasn't one of them.


Q:

Do flammulated owls compete with bats for the same food sources?

A:

Why are phobias prevalent now more than ever?


Q:

On the immigration front, you have Japan, whose birth rate is as low as some European nations, yet decided it would rather shrink its population than open itself to more immigration and with it the risk of losing its identity. Do you think Japan’s policy is suicidal or could it be a model for countries in Europe?

A:

To a certain extent, but there is probably not a total overlap of actual prey items between bats and owls. I suspect that owls will go for the larger moths and insects compared to bats which are a usually smaller in size.


Q:

That's an interesting question. What is clear that we are now much more aware of phobias and that they are not just a flight of the imagination, but a real and life inhibiting problem for a great many people. Let me give you one example:

In the mid-19th century, when a German psychologist named Carl Westphal named "agoraphobia" which is not a fear as many people think of being in open spaces, but of being among other people - it comes from the Greek "agora" which means market place - he reported that he was unable to describe any cases of female agoraphobics, as all his patients were men. What he failed to appreciate, that even those with severe agoraphobia are able to leave their homes quite easily, when in the company of a trusted adult or child. This could be their son, their brother, their parents, and so forth. In the 19th century, the middle class women who formed his patient base never went out unaccompanied, they always had companion. And so they didn't display any of the fear symptoms of agoraphobia. Today, many more people experience new things to which they can become phobic and social structures mean they are always less likely to be accompanied. I think these two factors account for both the greater public awareness of phobias and possibly the increase in phobias to experiences, activities, and situations that did not exist even 30 years ago.

A:

In effect, Hungary is going down the Japanese road, Germany is taking the opposite course. These may prove to be alternative methods of suicide. The way to happiness is to have five children. People in wealthy countries can afford this. They should get on with it.


Q:

With all the fires in California there will be a push to remove dead trees and snags from forests. Do you anticipate a negative impact on these owls?

A:

Why in your opinion people think the way they do (or don't)? Is there some pattern associated with some specific type of people based on various variables and how does it affects things?


Q:

In a previous answer, you said you believe the benefits of the British Empire outweighed its costs for a long time. Can you talk more about this? Benefits/costs for whom?

A:

The fires themselves may have an impact if they happen in their habitats. This species lives in the mountains therefore, only if the recent fires reached higher elevations, will there be an impact. Naturally occurring fires may be beneficial because of the potential positive impacts on undergrowth (shrubs, bushes and forbs) that provide a habitat for insects to feed on, but if the fires are too extreme, that might destroy breeding habitat for the birds who rely on cavity nests in snags and live trees. It depend therefore how severe the fires are, I suspect, but this is something I and my collaborators may start looking at particularly at or near our study site in SE Arizona.


Q:

My work was so varied and covered so many aspects of human life that is quite hard to specify any particular topic. Some involve greater technical complexity and risk, such as setting up remote, radio controlled, Nikon cameras when shooting aircraft and car stunts. Others involved a great deal of planning and rehearsal. For example the covert picture I took of a public schoolboy in the UK being caned took 1/15th of a second to shoot and some six months to arrange – so I was mightily relieved when the negative turned out okay in terms of exposure and focus. The miniature camera was hidden up my sleeve and in those days you got one chance to get the picture. But I suppose the area of work where I was most pleased with the results was in 1969 when I spent a lot of time in northern Ireland where the "troubles" had just erupted. I was commissioned by a French magazine to create a reportage of how the violence was affecting the children of both the Catholic and Protestant areas of the city. I stayed with strong families and became very friendly with people on both sides of the sectarian divide. On one occasion I was kidnapped and marched through the streets blindfolded before being taken into a back bedroom for "questioning". Fortunately I had made friends with a wonderful doctor, Jim Ryan, who served both communities for decades and had good friends on both sides of the religious divide. They called him and he vouched for me. At once everyone was a friend again and the lad who had blindfolded me and threatened me with a pickaxe handle beating, even let me photograph the top of his head where you could see the stitching of a wound delivered he said by a member of the hated B Force police squad. I was pleased with the way the pictures brought home to people in both France and the UK how the children were suffering even at this early stage of the conflict. One final set of pictures which caused me great pride with those secretly taken in a Turkish juvenile prison where a British lad, Timothy Davey, was serving a long sentence for drug possession. He was jailed for many years at the age of 14 and sent to an adult male prison! My pictures appears in eight leading UK Sunday newspaper and he freed a few weeks later.

A:

For humanity. The argument is there in Empire, as well as in other works (The Cash Nexus, Colossus, Civilization -- also War of the World). I have a paper that I never published that pulls the economics together, but I decided it was futile as the post-colonial types aren't interested in quantifying welfare or considering counterfactuals (which you have to do).


Q:

How do you study them? Do you capture them and tag them? Any GPS tracking? Or do you watch with binoculars?

A:

I'm interested in majoring in cognitive science or neuroscience when I start college next year. Are there any real career options outside of medicine and research? What major/minor would you recommend pairing neuro or cogsci witih for good job opportunities?


Q:

Hello Niall. I really enjoyed your biography on Kissinger. How’s volume two coming along?

A:

All of the above, I capture the females and young at the nest and the males with a net setup in front of the nest. We have attached geolocators that help us learn where they migrate to in winter.


Q:

Hi, You have chosen a fascinating, complex and I believe increasingly important specialisation. My own pairing was with clinical psychology as I was interested in helping people with stress, anxiety and similar difficulties. My early studies also involved developing cognitive strategies by which children could more fully and effectively develop their mental powers in the early years of life. You might consider pairing with some aspects of psychology, such as educational, social or as in my case clinical. I guess you are in the States but if you are in the UK I would happily invite you to visit our laboratory and talk to some of our neuroscientists who work with us in a more commercial field of brain studies. I think the whole field is opening up considerably so you could find employment with marketing companies, advertising companies and so on. Do let me know which pathway you select and whether I can be of any further assistance – assuming I have been of some assistance! – once you embark upon your studies. The best of luck in this very challenging yet hugely rewarding field,

A:

Research is 85% done. Book should be done inside three years. But it's an historiographical Everest in terms of the volume of material, not to mention the harsh climate at the top. The conventional wisdom on Kissinger (that he is an evil war criminal) is an article of religious faith for a generation of liberals.


Q:

What's something peculiar about this owls and how was that discovered?

P.s: It sounds like you have an interesting & exciting life!

A:

What have you previously written about that you have since changed your mind about?

Love your work by the way.


Q:

Actually just last year, I discovered that when things don’t go well for a female trying to raise young in the nest, and all of a sudden her mate disappears, she may start feeding on her own young. It was a sad sight to see, but also explains how these birds may have to go to extreme measures to survive.

A:

I got the US macro trends wrong in 2009-10. I quite quickly corrected myself, but wrote a couple of pieces that were wrong about the direction of interest rates and inflation, and my enemies will never let me forget it, nor will they ever acknowledge how quickly and openly I changed my mind.


Q:

What is it like living in a typical flammulated owl family? Do parents remain together after mating? How many chick do they have at once? Any other interesting details about their social and familial lives?

A:

Are all Freemasons the same or are there imitators and different types of Freemasonry?


Q:

Usually many of the adult we come across change mates in subsequent years. They stick together for one season, maybe to, less likely three or more. They typically follow the seasonal monogamy approach, but next year they may move on. Mostly they only have up the three young per season (rarely 4, I’ve never seen 5 albeit I once had 5 eggs in one nest, but only 2 young made it). So they have small clutch sizes compared to other owls, therefore we are a bit concerned that when things change too much that would impact their populations. Interesting calls between the parents when they (or just the male) approach the nest.

A:

All shapes and sizes, but every formally constituted lodge has some connection to the masonic tradition as it evolved in the British Isles between the 16th and 18th centuries.


Q:

How does one enter the field of Flammulated Owl study?

A:

In your recent book, did you research, find or include any networks or groups of note in the recent history of Latin America or that emerged during Spanish colonization?


Q:

Usually working with land managers or state and federal biologists who are wondering about the trends in their populations. They will look for experts to study these birds and that’s how I got set up to become experienced with them.

A:

Yes, there's a bit on that. For example, I see the conquistadores as a network (like the Portuguese explorers), who successfully took over existing American systems of governance, most obviously in Peru. There's less on more recent history, though I follow it closely. Watch the role of social media in Brazil and Mexico this year!


Q:

Are flammulated owls apex predators, or are they prey to any other animals?

A:

Will China become the second superpower in our lifetime? I'm 28 years old.

I'm a big fan of all your work. Wish you appeared in news interviews recently more often!


Q:

They are most likely not apex predators and fall prey themselves to red squirrels and other larger owls. In a way they are more behaving like other insectivorous owls so in the food web, they may take up a spot in the middle to higher regions (if that makes sense). Definitely short of apex.

A:

It's already happened. The question is: Can it get to be #1 before you're my age (53)?


Q:

Hello Dr. Mika. Thank you for this intriguing and adorable AMA.

I wonder, what kinds of environmental pressures select for such smallness? In other words, what is the advantage to being so tiny and cute?

A:

Were you the author of "Blood Cotton", the anonymous review of Edward Baptist's book which was withdrawn from the Economist? It is widely rumoured to have been written by you.


Q:

Thanks for your kind words! I suspect their adaptation to hunt for insect prey aided in the selection for this size. If there are enough insects in an area, the parents will stop by their nests many times a night, which seems to be a great way to raise the young and provide them with plenty of resources. If conditions are good, catching insects and being small to do so is a great way to be successful as a species.

A:

No.


Q:

Is “flammulated” a synonym for “adorable”?

A:

Would you consider your histories factual?


Q:

Not really, but I think it should be….haha. For the true explanation of flammulated check out one of my earlier comments (however, I may use this one next time when I have people join me in the field ;)

A:

Yes.


Q:

Did you ever do any surveys in the Spring Mountains? I worked there for a number of years and camped under vocal flammulated owls a few times. All night it was just "Hoot." "Hoot." "Hoot." "Hoot." with no real enthusiasm behind it haha. Never got to see them, though.

A:

What does Russia want with the Trump administration and vice versa? I keep hearing that they’re both populist but Putin is a strongman from the top down and Trump’s policies seem to favor the very very rich. Neither seems particularly “populist” to me.


Q:

As a matter of fact, I received my PhD at UNLV pretty close to the Spring Mountains and yes, I did surveys for them near the ski resort and in some neighboring canyons as well. I didn’t focus on that area that much since one of my colleagues had done extensive surveys for the species in the area. However, good memories from my time as a graduate student! I did work for the Nevada Dept. of Wildlife surveying most other mountain ranges in Nevada for the species and provided them with extensive data on the Nevada populations. These were some great summers I spent in some of the most beautiful mountains (on most under-rated ones) in the west. Nevada is more beautiful than what the public thinks ;)

A:

Oligarchy is the key word here. Trump campaigned as a populist, governs like an oligarch. Each relates to the other. Putin however has a goal beyond making money: he wants to weaken the West and restore Russian power. I'm against that.


Q:

What are the main predators of flammulated owls? Do other, larger owls eat them?

A:

What's the wrongest pronunciation of your name you've ever heard?


Q:

Expanding on a previous answer where red squirrels and other larger owls are most likely the main predators of Flammulated Owls, there is always a threat to young owls right after they fledge and are vulnerable to predation. You’d have foxes, bobcats, etc. able to kill young before they are able to maintain flight. But that’s mostly for a short window right after the young jump out of the nest and have to hide in low bushes or can climb up trees to find safety before they can fly.

A:

Nigel.


Q:

What is an owls favorite flavor of milkshake?

A:

Ive mainly been interested in science but want to start learning more about history. Any book recommendations or resources to get started?


Q:

I’d say strawberry or raspberry….or mothberry ;)

A:

Ernst Gombrich's Little History of the World.


Q:

Do flammulated owls do anything outsized to contrast their undersized bodies?

A:

Yes they do. Great question. I suggest you google the call of one and then compare to the call of a Long-eared owl. They sound kind of similar and Long-eared Owls are quite a bit larger than Flammulated Owls. When you hear their call, they do sound larger than their size. That is a classic way for them to receive less harassment from larger predators and other large owls that may prey on them.


Q:

Asking for an emotionally unstable biology student friend- how does one get a job?

A:

Get as much field and research experience as possible, already as undergraduate student. Have him/her find a faculty who does interesting work and participate in their lab or field research. Then use that experience to apply for field positions or seasonal positions to advance the knowledge and expertise. That is the first step towards a graduate degree. Then it depends on what career he/she wants to pursue. If a government job sound interesting, a Masters is usually enough and almost better suited for such a move. For academia, a PhD would be necessary. I hope that answers the question and ‘stabilizes’ the friend or yours!


Q:

In your opinion, can owls (in general -not just this incredibly adorable species) live good and satisfying lifes when kept by humans?

A:

I doubt that this would be a satisfactory way of life for them if they were healthy. I think for an injured bird that couldn’t survive in the wild anymore, being kept by humans is fine plus that provides an opportunity to teach the public about these amazing creatures. But unless that is the case, I could imagine that life in captivity would not be their first choice.


Q:

Are owls the best?

A:

Hands down. However, I need to stay objective as much as possible to avoid a bias in my data collection. Therefore I like much of the wildlife, but admit that owls are quite impressive….and the best!


Q:

What's your favorite owl fact? What owl fact do you think others would find most interesting?

A:

One aspect that is unique to Barn Owls (not Flammulated Owls) that I think is pretty cool, is that they have a pectinate claw. This is a comb-like ridge on their middle claw/talon on their foot (see on this webpage: https://curioussengi.wordpress.com/2016/09/26/looking-good-part-i-pectinate-claws-avian-edition/) Scroll down to the owl picture. They use this to comb through their plumage and get rid of ectoparasites etc. That I think should be interesting to the public and many people don’t know that. They by the way share this trait with heron and egrets (two other bird species affiliated with marshes and other watery habitats).


Q:

Do they make good pets?

A:

I don’t think so. They are not interactive and will do best in the wild. I think unless it was an injured bird in a rehab or educational facility, owls should stay in the wild.


Q:

How many of these tiny owls have you kidnapped for your home? Because I would take them all.

A:

Haha, zero to be honest… and no offense but if I’d done that I wouldn’t hand it to anyone and I’d be in jail right now ;)


Q:

Flamulated owls are pretty cool. Have you ever studied their evolutionary cousins, the twitterpated owl?

A:

I have not...I suggest one might find one on Twitter??? Haha.


Q:

How do i obtain one of these owls?

A:

You won’t since they are, like almost all birds protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty. You can experience them when you contact a researcher who allows you to experience them in the wild. That’s as far as you can and should go to ‘obtain’ one of them.