Saturday, November 26, 2022

MendoMoments: A Barn Owl in the Backyard

[All pictures taken by Matt LaFever]

In the shifting light of early evening, my wife and I peered upward into our backyard redwood tree and caught a glimpse of a slumbering Barn Owl.

In folklore, the Barn Owl has been referred to as the Ghost Owl, and some call the bird the Death Owl. In Hinduism, the Barn Owl transports Lakshmi, the goddess of Wisdom. Tangiers myth tells of the Barn Owl being a clairvoyant of the Devil. Lady Macbeth said, “It was the owl that shrieked, the fatal bellman which gives the sternest goodnight.”

Since moving into our Hopland home, we have heard the owl’s hoots after dark and found his owl pellets in the daylight littering the ground at the base of the redwood.

At first, we noticed a strange growth in the middle of the owl’s chest. Then, we realized that he was nestling his talon in his feathers while standing on one foot.

MendoFever’s newest column, MendoMoments, is dedicated to showcasing the land, animals, and people that make up Mendocino County. All Mendocino County residents and visitors are invited to participate. Send photographs to including a description of what your photograph depicts, where it was taken, and any other important details.

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFever
I like to think of myself as a journalist for the everyman. Journalism has become a craft practiced largely by the urban elite. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at if you know a story that needs to be told.

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