Author Archives: Pat Freeman

Photo of head of male white breasted barn owl.
Do you believe in ghosts? Picture this. It’s a clear night and you are walking home along a country lane with no streetlights or cars. There’s no one else around. It’s spooky. Your route takes you past a church and graveyard. Suddenly, out of the corner of your eye, you think you see a white shape floating above the ground. You dare to look towards it and it disappears. You tell yourself you are imagining things and walk a few more steps. Then the ghostly white shape reappears! It is definitely real, it hovers above the ground, it appears to be flying and then it turns towards you!! Two black eyes are looking straight at you, they seem to be looking into your very soul! GULP! The ghostly shape dives to the ground and then flies up and away. An ear-piercing scream fills the air. You run the fastest you have run in your life. You crash into your house, lock the door and hide. WHAT WAS THAT!

Do you believe in ghosts? Over the centuries, many people have told tales of haunted graveyards and ghostly shapes flying in the dead of night. They say the ghost has two staring black eyes. It shrieks and screams like a banshee but it moves silently. It MUST be a ghost!

Maybe it is but what if it’s one of these!

A white breasted barn owl is most likely to hunt at night. It flies silently, the underside of its wings are white. It has two staring black eyes. When it finds prey, it hovers and then drops to the ground to capture its dinner. Barns owls do not hoot, they do shriek – very loudly. Although their name suggests they would live in barns, they do like church towers – high off the ground, away from predators and they can bring up their young undisturbed.

A reasonable explanation for ghostly goings on? We’d like to think so.

But then, maybe we’re wrong………………Happy Halloween!

view of two owl aviaries. Wooden construction with mesh. Grassed area with flowering shrubs
Owls sit still most of the time. Not so their human carers. For us, life is never dull and always busy.

Our amazing collection of birds of prey has been growing rapidly. It now includes 45 owls, ranging from European Eagle owls to South American Pygmy owls, Harris Hawks, a Tawny Frogmouth and, of course, Sheila our very noisy Kookaburra loved by everyone for her crazy ‘laugh’ !

As you can imagine, housing everyone presents a challenge! We built additional aviaries.

But last winter an unexpected solution was also found by two of our owls! An interconnecting door between their two aviaries blew open during a storm one night. Next morning, we found the two cosied up together in one aviary. We left the repaired door open in case they preferred the single life but they decided sharing was the way to go and so we have left them together.

At the same time as this happened, we were asked to provide a home for a Barn owl. He took up residence in the vacant aviary and settled in well. Maybe we should allow the owls to decide their own living arrangements in future!

Our work rehabilitating injured wild birds continues. Owls, buzzards, sparrowhawks and even a duck have all been brought to us for some TLC and maybe a visit to our vet to be checked over. Sadly, not all our ‘patients’ survive but the vast majority, once recovered, are released back into the wild in the area where they were found.

We are, of course, always grateful for your continuing support by way of donations and adoptions. ( This year we were also very lucky to receive a generous sum from the Local Community Fund of the Co-operative Group which will enable us to start work on some exciting projects. We were even luckier to learn that we will continue to benefit from this Fund.

In addition we are also supported by Zimbolics. They are a company who offer a range of bird and wildlife sculptures made from recycled and reclaimed metal. A donation is made to the Owls Trust for every one of their owl sculptures sold.

For those of you not able to visit us, it is hard to visualise exactly what the sanctuary looks like. Here’s a couple of photos of where our owls live

And we’re not sure that they appreciate the amazing view they have from their aviaries! We certainly do!