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Restricted range of ocular accommodation in barn owls (Aves:Tytonidae)

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In an examination of the focusing abilities of 15 species of owls, the North American barn owl, Tyto alba pratincola (Bonaparte 1838), was an outstanding accommodator, having a range of accommodation exceeding 10 diopters (Murphy and Howland 1983). Using comparable methods, we examined the accommodation of 4 specimens of the Australian barn owl, Tyto alba delicatula (Gould 1837). We failed to elicit accommodation greater than two diopters, and most stimuli failed to evoke any discernable accommodation at all. Furthermore, examination of other Australian tytonid owls, the grass owl, T. longimembris, the sooty owl, T. tenebricosa, and both the mainland and Tasmanian subspecies of the masked owl, T. novaehollandiae novaehollandiae and T. novaehollandiae castanops, also failed to reveal anything but very moderate accommodative ranges. We conclude that the outstanding accommodative ability of the American barn owl is truly an exception to the modest accommodative abilities of the tytonid owls generally.

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Correspondence to J. D. Pettigrew.

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Howland, H.C., Rowland, M.J., Schmid, K. et al. Restricted range of ocular accommodation in barn owls (Aves:Tytonidae). J Comp Physiol A 168, 299–303 (1991). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00198349

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Key words

  • Photorefraction
  • Accommodation
  • Tytonidae
  • Near vision