The Macadamea Castle has opened a new nocturnal exhibit with new animals to come and look at including a beautiful barn owl.
The Macadamea Castle has opened a new nocturnal exhibit with new animals to come and look at including a beautiful barn owl. Marc Stapelberg

See the new addition to North Coast tourist attraction

IT'S the stealth fighter of the animal kingdom.

The barn owl is blessed with silent flight, perfect hearing, and deadly eyesight three times better than us.

It's an extremely adaptable bird which can be found on every continent except Antarctica.

There is even one living in a suburb near you.

But most of the time you won't see it, because it only comes out at night - until now.

Opening up to the public the secret world of nocturnal animals, including the barn owl, is the inspiration behind Macadamia Castle's newest feature enclosure, the nocturnal house.

Light-controls inside the darkened building have "jet lagged" three nocturnal animals by 12 hours so they are active during the day.

The animals include the barn owl, the boobook (also an owl), and the Australian sugar glider.

Park manager Nick Bourke said barn owls were fantastic hunters and prized by farmers for their ability to sniff out troublesome rodents.

Both their hearing and eyesight abilities are beyond that of humans, Mr Bourke said.

Their ears are asymmetrical - one is lower than the other - allowing them to more quickly "triangulate" their next meal, he said.

"It's said they can hear the heart beats of mice under three inches of snow," he said.

The owl belongs to the raptor family, birds defined by their powerful talons which are especially designed to seize prey.

Macadamia Castle owner Tony Gilding joked that US company Lockheed Martin had spent "billions of dollars" creating stealth fighters with silent flight, and yet, "here's a bird which does it by flapping its wings".

Mr Gilding said the nocturnal house would show off a world which most people did not realise existed, even if it was around them as they slept.

"Our whole inspiration is conservation ... this a powerful example of what people have in their own backyard, but if you're not aware of what's around you, you can't protect it," he said.

He advised landowners to plant native trees where possible or install nest boxes to support the animals finding a home easily.

Mr Gilding is a passionate conservationist who regularly travels to Borneo to help protect the endangered orangutan.

He said it was amazing the number of conservationists he had met who had been inspired by childhood visits to their local wildlife park, and he aimed to achieve the same.

"The little kids that come in here and see these animals for the first time are just fascinated," he said.



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