EuroBirdNet Italia (EBN) connects bird spotters from all over Italy and enables them to share bird sightings with fellow enthusiasts. In 2001, when EBN was first set up, there was no social media! The only way that bird watching enthusiasts could quickly share sightings of species, from the most common to the rarest, was via emails sent to all members of the group. This gave birdwatchers the opportunity to visit places where they could find the broad-billed sandpiper, long tailed jaeger, the rufous-tailed scrub robin or even more common birds that spotters hadn’t already seen. This passing on of information allows enthusiasts to watch birds in their own habitats and to share their thoughts and emotions and also was a way to report any risks to the birds or their habitats.
EBN Italia now uses social media. This has increased the number of people who are now aware of this wonderful hobby. This is good news for bird watchers and the birds! The more people that observe and get to know the wonderful birds that live on our coasts, in our mountains, on the plains, in the hills or in the city, the more action can be taken to protect their environments and the rich biodiversity that characterises them.
EBN Italia has created a code of conduct for birdwatching, to educate people on how to enjoy observing without disturbing or causing damage; it organises national and regional meetings, and it publishes the members only Italian-language magazine dedicated to bird observation, ‘Quaderni di birdwatching’.
MARGHERITA, the barn owl
EBN’s studies, research and field activities inspired the story of Margherita, the barn owl protagonist of The 2021 Christmas EcoAdventures, the Advent Calendar that collects 24 stories and creative activities for young EcoExplorers.
The Christmas EcoAdventures are stories to share. Every day, from the 1st to 24th December, you will find a story and an activity to complete together. This EcoAdventure was created so that this special time becomes a journey to the four corners of the world discovering curious, rare or endangered animals. You are never too young to take care of our environment and communities!
The animals’ stories, told with fur, feathers, scales or fins and a pinch of imagination, are an invitation to discover their characteristics, lifestyle, and the daily challenges they face to survive threats posed by man and pollution. Christmas is only one day a year, but taking care of the Earth should be a daily act.
The activities allow you to experience a sustainable and creative activity each day. You will then become a
First Class EcoElf.
The story of Margherita is the story of a young barn owl from the Tuscan countryside that is about to get married, but has not yet managed to find the right place to build her nest. Barn owls have always been the best friends of farmers because, in exchange for a warm and dry place in farms, silos or barns, they take care of keeping mice and foxes away.
When they fall in love, barn owls stay together for life. For this reason, for Margherita, it is so important to find a welcoming home, because it will be the refuge of her family forever.
She needs the help of an EcoElf!
find more about the barn owl
When you and I prepare for sleep, someone else wakes up and comes out of its shelter. The barn owl is one of these beautiful inhabitants of the night. It is a nocturnal, predatory bird that has had to adapt to see in the dark: his eyes are not round like ours, but tube-shaped and in proportion to the size of the head. They are much larger than ours. Although not able to move its eyes, this is not a problem for the barn owl as it can rotate its entire head 270 degrees around. When we want to look at something to our right, we turn our heads 90 degrees whereas the barn owl can make a three times greater turn! Hearing is also extremely important in the life of a nocturnal bird of prey. How is it able to hear and yet not be heard? That beautiful disc-and-heart-shaped face contains a sophisticated listening system: it does not have protruding ears like ours (the auricles), but large cavities, protected by the down feathers of the facial disc and positioned on the sides of the head, at different heights. Why? Because a prey that moves in the dark is difficult to find, and thanks to the different position of the ears on its head, the barn owl is able to locate it with perfect precision just by listening.
The secret to the barn owl not being heard can be found in its plumage. Feathers and plumes are made in such a way as to cut out any noise produced by the flapping of the wings: the flight is then silent and there’s no way to notice the barn owl’s presence!
The barn owl’s face, chest, under the wings and tail is white, with golden fawn on the back and above the wings and tail it has patches of grey and white. Its voice, however, is definitely not as graceful! A shrill hiss along with its white plumage, once caused people to believe that the barn owl was the incarnation of witches or ghosts, or were bearers of misfortune. Their habit of nesting in abandoned farmhouses, towers, barns and attics added to people’s superstitions. Now, in fact, it prefers to live in such environments and uses fewer and fewer natural environments, such as hollow trees.
It is a sedentary species (it does not migrate), and it will mate for life. The female will lay between 4 to 7 eggs, although a record of 18 eggs has been recorded! It seems that so many eggs were the result of a second laying. In these cases the siblings of the first brood, now older, help the parents raise the younger chicks. They feed mainly on small rodents, which makes them welcome allies for the farmer.
How do we know if there are barn owls around? Spotting them is not easy. Unfortunately their numbers are decreasing, due to the use of pesticides and speeding drivers who hit them at night. To find out if there are barn owls close to you, you have to look for the “pellets”. The pellets are little balls, made of indigestible remains of their prey: bones, fur, feathers, everything that they cannot digest, which is expelled from the mouth, after being separated from the flesh and balled up in the stomach. Each nocturnal bird of prey produces pellets of different shapes and sizes: this is how researchers are able to understand which animals frequent an area, and which animals are their prey.
learn to care
and choose to colour the world
with more smiles and kindness
The idea of the Christmas EcoAdventures was born to create a time for sharing during the days leading up to Christmas; a time to read and create but most of all to enjoy being together.
The characters, stories and activities that give life to the EcoADVENTures are an invitation to reconnect, to learn to care, and choose to colour the world with more smiles and more kindness.
We hope that this book will encourage empathy, respect and help children to make informed choices, embrace experiences and cultivate their dreams and ambitions. We hope that they will learn to respect differences, the environment that surrounds them and the community in which they live. We would love our book to help you experience Christmas in a unique, thought provoking and sincere way.
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