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Birds currently following my brother at 11pm in Utrecht, Netherlands (1 Viewer)

Tired

Well-known member
United States
View attachment IMG_4174 (1).mov

Whatever these birds are, they've been following my brother for at least a quarter mile, circling above him and calling. They're staying far up, so I assume it's coincidence? But we're still curious what they are. I thought maybe barn owls, since they're out at night and seem to have rounded wings, but, as far as I can tell from my research, almost all barn owl vocalizations are Horrible Screeches rather than chup! noises.
 

Tired

Well-known member
United States
Interesting, thank you.

Is there any reason they would be following someone from that far overhead, or was that likely just coincidence?
 

nartreb

Speak softly and carry a long lens
They're also much smaller than barn owls, so likely not nearly as far overhead as your brother thought they were. Terns will often circle and give alarm calls if people approach their nests, but a quarter mile (half a kilometer? :) ) makes that unlikely. I suspect your brother met more birds than he realized - they weren't following him, he just happened to be under a circling tern at various times.
 

aeshna5

Well-known member
They're also much smaller than barn owls, so likely not nearly as far overhead as your brother thought they were. Terns will often circle and give alarm calls if people approach their nests, but a quarter mile (half a kilometer? :) ) makes that unlikely. I suspect your brother met more birds than he realized - they weren't following him, he just happened to be under a circling tern at various times.
Not much smaller! Barn Owl length given as 33-39 cm & wing length 80-95 cm. Common Tern is given 31-35 cm & wing length 77-98 cm. Quite a bit of overlap, though of course both birds structurally very different.
 

nartreb

Speak softly and carry a long lens
Not much smaller! Barn Owl length given as 33-39 cm & wing length 80-95 cm. Common Tern is given 31-35 cm & wing length 77-98 cm. Quite a bit of overlap, though of course both birds structurally very different.
Terns have very elongated beaks, tails, and wingtips - too thin for our poster to see. Body weight is a better measure. Common tern: 110g-140g. Barn owl: 450-580g. Converting down from volume to area, that's more than a doubling of visual size.
 
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Tired

Well-known member
United States
Ah, yeah, it being multiple unrelated pairs would make a lot of sense.

Though, he did pick up a silver bird pendant on the ground earlier that day, so he might just be haunted.

(Joking about the haunting, but not about the pendant.)
 

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