Barn Owl (Tyto alba)
Barn Owls have distinctive heart-shaped faces with small stiff feathers around the edge of the ‘facial disc’. They are pale overall with dark eyes. They have a mix of buff and gray on the head, back, and upper wings, and are white on the face, body, and under wings. When seen at night they can appear all white. These medium-sized owls have long, rounded wings and short tails, which combine with a buoyant, loping flight to give them a distinctive flight style. The legs are long and the head is smoothly rounded, without ear tufts.
Females are larger than males. Females often have darker brown feathers around the rim of the facial disc as well as darker bars on the tail and small black spots on the chest and underside of the wings. Males are generally lighter and a more pure white underneath.
Barn Owls long legs that are feathered all the way down to their gray talons. This helps them to catch prey hidden under long grass.
Barn Owls are nocturnal. Their large eyes and super-sensitive hearing makes them expert hunters even in total darkness. Their hearing is aided by the fact that they have lop-sided ears. One is higher than the other, which helps them to pinpoint the exact location of tiny sounds.
Barn Owl feathers are quite soft and this helps them to hunt silently, however, they are not very water resistant and will get soaked if it rains..
Barn Owls do not “hoot”. They make a “screeching” sound.
Barn Owls are found on every continent except Antarctica. However, they are not found in deserts or Polar Regions of the continents.
They live near large areas of open land over which to hunt. This can either be marsh, grasslands, or mixed agricultural fields. For nesting and roosting, they prefer quiet cavities, either in trees or man-made structures such as barns or silos.
Carnivore – they prefer rats, voles, shrews and mice. They also eat other small animals like lizards and amphibians. A wild Barn Owl usually eats about 4 small mammals every night, that’s 1,460 per year! Food is often swallowed whole – bits of fur and bone are then regurgitated (coughed up) as an owl pellet.
Barn owls are solitary or found in mating pairs. They are usually monogamous, sticking to one partner for life unless one of the pair dies.
Barn Owls live up to 4 years in the wild. They have been known to live up to 30 years in human care.
Barn Owls are one of the most widespread of all landbirds, found on six continents and many islands.