Luminous Owls

‘That luminous Barn Owls have been seen before in the same part of Norfolk is certain… We have it on the best authority – namely, from the man himself – that some years ago Frederick Rolfe, gamekeeper now retired, saw what could have been nothing else when stopping up fox-earths at West Bilney. A few nights afterwards he saw the same shining bird again, subsequently shot it, and found that it was a Barn Owl. He said that the bird ‘was emitting a very bright light when near him and that it continued to give out a slight glow for some hours after it was dead’.’ JH Gurney, 1908

David Clarke wrote about luminous owls in Fortean Studies Vol 1 (1994), and it’s been suggested that barn owls’ wings may attract luminous fungi, but this paper proposes that some may be naturally bioluminescent… I’ll take two of them please.

A Review of accounts of luminosity in Barn Owls Tyto alba
by Fred Silcock

The historical anecdotal accounts of luminosity in the Barn Owl Tyto alba, in England and Australia, are reviewed and found to be convincing. There are many eyewitness accounts of unexplained lights behaving like hunting Barn Owls, and some of those lights were seen ultimately to be luminescing Barn Owls. This phenomenon may be a plausible explanation for the Will o’ the Wisp and similar myths in England, and the Min Min Light in Australia.

The cause of the luminescence is more contentious. Contamination of the owl’s feathers by luminescent fungi, from decaying wood within tree hollows, is here considered to be an unlikely cause. Instead, it is proposed that the Barn Owl may be intrinsically bioluminescent. However, this hypothesis requires scientific investigation.

Read the full paper here; Fred Silcock has also written a book on the subject (see cover above).

Thanks to Ian Ridpath

About Mark

Author of 'Mirage Men' & 'Far Out' and publisher/editor at Strange Attractor Press.
This entry was posted in Culture, Lore, UFO. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Luminous Owls

  1. Steve says:

    UFOs are one thing luminous owls take the biscuit

  2. Request Beer says:

    Luminous owls? What a great story. Can we these crowbar into the mythology? Could they be alien/earth owl hybrids left over from some diabolical ET genetic experiment?

  3. Pingback: Marcianitos Verdes » Búhos luminosos

  4. Pingback: Luminous Owls - Alien UFOs

  5. Pingback: The Heavy Stuff » The Third Annual Fortean Tinged Links Of 2010

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