The goal of the study is to develop this model of sex determination in Barn Owls. The sex of birds of prey is usually determined using one of two methods: plumage or size. Plumage is often the most obvious way to tell the difference between male and female birds, because male birds often have bright and colorful plumage and female birds generally have drab and dull colored plumage. In species that do not have plumage variation, size difference is used for sex determination. The most common measurement of size is body mass, but other measurements can also be used including: wing chord, tail length, and footpad. The Barn Owl (Tyto alba) follows the general trend that females are larger than males, but there is quite a bit of overlap, which often makes sex determination difficult. It has also been noted by some researchers that female Barn Owls seem to have darker (more brown) plumage than the mostly white males, but this variation is usually not quantified. This study proposes that if both of these sex determination methods (size and plumage) are quantified and used together, then a model could be developed that would allow for sex determination of all Barn Owls in the field.
McKinley, Lillian, "Barn Owl Sex Determination" (2014). College of Arts and Sciences Presentations. Paper 35.