A North American Owl Prowl
In honor of Earth Week, we’re taking some time to honor and appreciate owls, some of the most majestic and beautiful creatures in our area. Here at Rubino Estates, we provide owl boxes for these incredible birds who patrol our vineyards from dusk until dawn, providing ambience, wonder, and natural pest control. Our Night Owl Barbera is named in honor of these mysterious nighttime visitors.
In folklore, owls have long been associated with wisdom and have been set apart from other birds for their many exceptional qualities. Most famously, their heads can swivel an astonishing 270 degrees, but that is not the only exceptional feature of this creature. Owls are “zygodactyl” meaning that they have three toes, one of which acts similar to a thumb. A group of owls is called a Parliament, inspired by a description of a meeting of owls in C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. Our region boasts many members of these parliaments, all with fascinating characteristics.
The Great Horned Owl is one of the most adaptable owls, an can be found living all across North America. They’re a talkative bunch, with the males’ call audible from a few miles away on a clear night. They are named for the distinctive tufts of feathers which stick upwards from their head, resembling horns. They’re fierce, intimidating, and have few natural predators—allowing them to live upwards of 28 years.
The Northern Pygmy Owl earns its name from its small size, but don’t trifle with one! They are talented hunters and are known to take on prey up to three times their own size. They are less nocturnal than most owls, hunting mostly during the day. They also dress up to protect from possible predators; with a unique feather pattern on the back of their heads resembling eyes, they are always watching!
The Short-Eared Owls are like the Wright brothers of this family of birds, as they are especially talented at flying. Their smaller bodies are well suited to taking wing, with a migration length of up to 1,200miles. To avert predators, they will lift their ear tufts or excrete on their own eggs. Short-Eared owls are elusive and happy in forests as well as marshes, fields, and even tundra.
The Western Screech Owl has another unique strategy for pest control in the nest; they are known to bring blind snakes into their nests as “pets” when their eggs have not yet hatched in order to keep pests like ants and flies away. These little owls are comfortable in more urban areas like city parks, but have excellent camouflage and thus often go undetected.
The Great Grey Owl is one of the most awe-inspiring owls in the world. Even in flight, these birds are often completely silent as they hunt for mice, small mammals, and other birds. These huge, rarely spotted birds can grow up to 5 feet in wingspan. Rather than building their own nests, they exert their dominance and simply steal from other birds. Great Grey owls are sometimes called bearded owls, but have also been known as “The Phantom of the North.”
The Barn Owl, named for their tendency to prefer caves and barns over nests, are talented nocturnal hunters. Their feathers are designed to make them exceptionally quiet, making them the perfect fit for nighttime pest control in our vineyards. Their hearing is so keen that they can pinpoint prey even in blackout conditions. These owls mate for life, which is fitting as these lovebirds are known for their heart-shaped faces. Other names for the Barn Owl are the Church Owl or a Ghost Owl.
Our Night Owl Barbera features a label embossed with the winsome visage of a barn owl in flight. All of the grapes grown for this classic Italian red are grown in our estate vineyards, all of which are guarded by the faithful watch of these creatures. We have installed a number of owl boxes throughout the estate, some of which are pictured below, to welcome their presence. Here at Rubino Estates Winery, we are committed to sustainability and caring for nature because we want to say thank you to all of the ecosystems that enrich our lives everyday.