Rare sight is good omen for campus evenings

Barn owl alights on stage rig during Evenings on Campus dance rehearsals.

The barn owl witnessed on campus on Wednesday evening.
The barn owl witnessed on campus on Wednesday evening.

There may be many knowledgeable academics at the University of Malta but another  wise owl was certainly very welcome when it made its way to the country's seat of learning during a dance rehearsal of Evenings on Campus late last night.

Since the logo of Evenings on Campus features an owl, the surprise appearance was interpreted by the organisers as a good omen. The owl only stayed long enough to pose for a photo or two and then flew off again into the dark night.

The Barn Owl has white underparts, a heart-shape facial disc and pale golden buff upperparts with large pale grey markings. Its prey consists mainly of rats and mice which it hunts at night. A few pairs are resident.

The last recorded breeding pair was shot in 1988. Other single bird sightings have been since recorded but breeding has not been confirmed. Breeding commences in April and continues well into Summer.

Once a widespread breeder along the cliffs of Malta, the Barn Owl has become locally extinct. The last breeding pair is known to have been shot by hunters in 1988.