Min Min or Missed Min?

A Critical Look at the Theory of Professor Jack Pettigrew (University of Queensland, Brisbane) Regarding the

“Min Min Light,” by Jonathan Whitcomb (who believes

F. F. Silcock’s theory about bioluminescent barn owls)

I do not dispute Professor Pettigrew’s interpretation of what he saw, either his first encounter (apparently the planet Venus) or his encounter while with colleagues (something like the “eyeshine” of a cat); my limited knowledge of his encounters prevents me from making an assessment of whether or not they were both cases of the refraction shown in his experimentation. But I do question his assumption about definition: that most lights that Australians classify as “Min Min” result from refraction. There’s more to this than meets the eye.


Mr. Silcock, author of The Min Min Light, The Visitor Who Never Arrives, acquired hundreds of reports of what Australians classify as Min Mins. He researched this phenomenon for years, the results showing in his book—a fine work. It seems that most lights called “Min Min” are barn owls (Tyto alba).


The reports he has analyzed involve bobbing lights that behave like hunting barn owls: flying one to three meters off the ground, often below two meters; pecking at insects that are attracted to the glow; sitting on fence posts, as if waiting for prey to appear. In one case, someone shot a Min Min, the result being a dead owl that glowed for some time after death.


Some Australians recognize the lights as owls, and some have observed them to be owls. I think that if Professor Pettigrew’s investigation had been as broad as it was deep, this would have come to light.


Not all barn owls glow, of course, and even those that do are probably not inclined to do so often. I believe that Mr. Silcock is right. I also believe that all barn owls are descended from ancestors that more regularly used bioluminescence and that only some of our present-day barn owls use or are capable of creating a glow. Bioluminescent barn owls would explain why the under-feathers are white: It allows the light to penetrate through the feathers.


I found it interesting that barn owl distribution, wordwide and in Australia, has some correlation to the lights that people call “Min Min,” “Will o’ the Wisp,” and “Jack o’ Lantern.”


I also found it interesting, though not surprising, that Professor Pettigrew’s specialty is neuroscience, while Mr. Silcock’s is, apparently, birds. I believe that both of them are right but that glowing barn owls, however rare, account for most of the phenomena called, in the Australian outback, “Min Min.”


Jonathan Whitcomb, forensic videographer,

Long Beach, California, U.S.A.