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Academic & Professional Books  Ornithology  Non-Passerines  Birds of Prey

Barn Owls Evolution and Ecology – with Grass Owls, Masked Owls and Sooty Owls

Monograph
By: Alexandre Roulin(Author), Laurent Willenegger(Illustrator), Erkki Korpimäki(Foreword By)
297 pages, 50 colour photos & colour illustrations
NHBS
Featuring exquisite colour illustrations not often seen in a scientific monograph, this book brings together up-to-date information on barn owl behaviour, ecology, and evolution.
Barn Owls
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Average customer review
  • Barn Owls ISBN: 9781107165755 Hardback Mar 2020 In stock
    £44.99
    #246503
Price: £44.99
About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles
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About this book

With heart-shaped face, buff back and wings, and pure white underparts, the barn owl is a distinctive and much-loved bird which has fascinated people from many cultures throughout history. How did the barn owl colonise the world? What adaptations have made this bird so successful? How is the increasing impact of human disturbance affecting these animals? Answering these questions and more, Roulin brings together the main global perspectives on the evolution, ecology and behaviour of the barn owl and its relatives, discussing topics such as the high reproductive potential, physiology, social and family interaction, pronounced colour variation and global distribution. Accessible and beautifully illustrated, this definitive volume on the barn owl is for researchers, professionals and graduate students in ornithology, animal behaviour, ecology, conservation biology and evolutionary biology, and will also appeal to amateur ornithologists and nature lovers.

Contents

1. Introduction
2. Conservation
3. Parasites and predators
4. Physiology in an ecological context
5. Morphology in an ecological context
6. Foraging
7. Sexual behaviour
8. Reproduction
9. Parental care
10. Sibling interactions
11. Demography
12. Plumage coloration

Customer Reviews (1)

  • All you need to know, brilliantly presented
    By Keith 28 Oct 2021 Written for Hardback
    Over the years, the genus Tyto has attracted a lot of attention from researchers and much of this has been fuelled by studies on the Barn Owl. Indeed, a quick check of my own library reveals that I already have no fewer than nine books on this species. So do we need another book on the subject? Actually, yes, because there are still many unanswered questions about this species, and in his book, Alexandre Roulin sets plenty of challenges for future researchers to tackle.

    Roulin is Professor of Biology at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland and has been at the forefront of Barn Owl research since 1996. One of his particular areas of interest has been plumage polymorphism but he has also studied parent-offspring conflict and sibling competition. These subjects are well covered, but so too are conservation, parasites, predators, physiology, morphology, daily life, sexual behaviour, reproduction, parental care and demography.

    Compared to other Barn Owl books I own, this one is more towards the academic end of the scale, but I was delighted that its style is engaging and approachable to anyone who is fascinated by owls and how they live. Rather than dense text, Roulin has chosen to create eleven chapters, each of which has many sub-sections. The result is a highly informative book that is easy to dip into for facts and attractively illustrated with art from Laurent Willenegger in addition to colour photographs.

    Many little-known facts come to light in this book. For example that variation in the size of black feather spots can predict aspects of genetic quality, physiology and personality. Amazingly young females with the smallest black feather spots have a very small survival rate compared to those with larger spots. I was also fascinated by Roulin’s own studies of the 'sibling negotiation theory' that reveals how young Barn Owls communicate vocally to resolve conflicts peacefully. While we know quite a lot about the Barn Owl already, there is much less published about the other members of the Tyto genus (Grass, Masked and Sooty Owls). There are plenty of references to these scattered within the text. On the matter of references, these are given at the end of each chapter, although they are not cited within the text blocks.

    The book does sound a few alarms. Disturbance by people is becoming a serious problem for most of the Tyto owls. Despite strong populations in some areas thanks to local conservation action, numbers elsewhere are indicating serious declines. Roulin wants more people to understand that these owls are efficient biological pest control agents – and people should know a single family of owls can devour between up to 7000 small mammals in a year!

    Many questions remain and he poses these in each chapter. For example, do owls contract diseases by living in a dirty nest? Also, have they evolved an efficient immune system to combat endoparasites? It is also possible that Barn Owls from different populations may differ in their visual and hearing capacity because they prey upon different species requiring different hunting techniques. There is also scope for studying the daily food consumption of wild owls as most estimates have come from birds kept in captivity. Anyone lacking a subject for their PhD would benefit from reading Roulin’s suggestions for future research.

    This is a well-organised book that delivers facts in a very approachable manner. It allows the reader to cherry-pick areas to read or simply work their way through the chapters. It was a delight to read.
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Biography

Alexandre Roulin is Full Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the Université de Lausanne, Switzerland. He has published more than 240 research papers, the majority of which are on the barn owl. He currently participates in a project that combines ecology and reconciliation in the Middle East, which places the barn owl at the centre of ecological discussions between Israel, Palestine and Jordan on the use of pesticides and agriculture.

Monograph
By: Alexandre Roulin(Author), Laurent Willenegger(Illustrator), Erkki Korpimäki(Foreword By)
297 pages, 50 colour photos & colour illustrations
NHBS
Featuring exquisite colour illustrations not often seen in a scientific monograph, this book brings together up-to-date information on barn owl behaviour, ecology, and evolution.
Media reviews

"[...] Compared with other Barn Owl books, this one is more towards the academic end of the scale, but its style is engaging and approachable to anyone who is fascinated by owls and how they live. Rather than dense text, Roulin has chosen to create 11 chapters, each of which has many sub-sections. The result is a highly informative book which is easy to dip into for facts and attractively illustrated with art from Laurent Willenegger in addition to colour photographs. [...] This is a well-organized book that delivers facts in a very approachable manner. It allows the reader to cherry-pick areas to read or simply to work their way through the chapters. It was a delight to read."
– Keith Betton, Ibis, August 2021

"The ultimate compendium of all things about barn owls. This beautifully illustrated book will appeal to researchers, students and amateurs alike by providing a comprehensive account of the behavior and life history traits of this much beloved animal."
– Jan-Åke Nilsson, Lunds universitet, Sweden

"[This book] refreshingly presents the biology of the barn owl and its relatives within the framework and context of today's world, and not simply within the original natural environment that is currently vanishing or, more commonly, already lost. Roulin forthrightly describes the challenges that barn owls meet, points out conservation measures to ensure their existence, and explores the potential value of barn owls in biological pest control and peace among warring countries. Ethical dilemmas and responsibilities of doing ecological research on wild animals are also skilfully and seamlessly integrated into this insightful and thought-provoking book."
– Dominique G. Homberger, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge

"Barn owls are everywhere, a ubiquity that might lead people to take them for granted. That would be a mistake. In this beautifully illustrated and wide-ranging book, Alexandre Roulin uncovers the extraordinary abilities of this cosmopolitan bird. Meticulously researched, this book is filled with information from the latest studies on every aspect of barn owl biology, tied together with entertaining prose that underscores both how much and how little we understand about the owls that are all around us."
– Marlène Zuk, University of Minnesota

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