Coal, a melanistic Barn Owl

A very special visitor spent the night at my place last week – Coal, a 19-week old melanistic Barn Owl

Coal’s condition, melanism, is a gene mutation which causes undue development of dark-coloured pigment in the skin (or its appendages) – effectively the exact opposite to albinism.

Melanisitc owls are normally killed at birth by their confused mothers who reject their colouring. Coal was born in captivity and so survived, meaning he is one of only a handful in existence in the UK. He comes from Kirkleatham Owl Centre, a local centre holding one of the best collections of owls (and other endangered species) in the UK. My girlfriend regularly volunteers here and through her persuasion Kirkleatham Owl Centre kindly let us use Coal for a National Trust event (hence him spending the night at our place the day before).

HERE is a link to a picture of him in a local paper after the NT event (they managed to get his name wrong unfortunately, calling him Ollie not Coal!) and below, a picture of him on my shoulder at home (just before he decided to poo all over it for the second time)…

A wonderful experience to share some time with this little fella.

Thankfully, Biffy didn’t give a damn about his presence – too busy chewing on his favourite toy…

2 thoughts on “Coal, a melanistic Barn Owl”

    1. Was really intrigued when I first met Coal myself, I too had never heard of a melanisitc barn owl before. Never heard of melanism at all actually. Really interesting! But anyway, your welcome Finn – thanks for reading.


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