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Barn Owl

Updated on February 25, 2016

Scientific Name: Tyto alba


Everyone seems to love the face of the Barn Owl. Even though they are commonly found out there, they look of them is different from other species. They have a face that is shaped like heart instead of being round. That is part of the image that most people fall in love with concerning these owls. They have feathers that are many different colors of brown. The shades of brown compliment each other and definitely help them to blend into the surroundings.

Around the facial area you will find white coloring and some shades of gray. The belly region is also white in color which gives them a very lovely coloring that people seem to be very impressed by. All of these descriptive looks also help them to be easily identified from other species of owls out there.

They aren’t very large owls, with the females growing about 22 inches in height. The males are several inches shorter. The overall size though often depends on the region where they live. Since the diet is so diversified in the various areas it can affect their overall height and weight. About 45 inches is the average wing span for any Barn Owl.


 Taking a close look at the talons of these owls, you will notice that they are serrated instead of straight. This offers them a very powerful weapon against predators. At the same time it explains why they are able to take down prey that is several times larger than they are. The sheer strength of them allows them to have the upper hand.

The wings are very long and they are made up of many layers of feathers. The overall design allows these owls to fly without making a single sound. It is amazing that they can get right above their prey without being noticed and that is a huge part of why that process works for them so well.

Why does the Barn Owl feature an ear that is taller than the other one? It definitely is a unique characteristic that you don’t find with other species of owls. They have a three dimensional type of radar system though that allows them to be able to pick up sounds that are very small and very low. This too helps them with hunting, and when you compile that with their hearing they are one of the best hunters out there.


 More fossilized remains of the Barn Owl have been discovered than for any other species. From them we have dated them to be living more than 5.5 million years ago. At the same time we do know that they were once several times larger than the animals today. This is based on the size of the bones that are part of the remains. Initially, they weren't believed to be the same species. Yet DNA testing has confirmed that they are.
There is only speculation though about why such changes have taken place. It could be that they had a hard time finding shelter and enough to eat. By becoming smaller they were able to fly faster and to capture prey easier. They also needed less food and used less energy as they moved about. All of this could be part of the process of evolution in order to help the Barn Owl to survive.


 If you hear some strange noises at night including whistles and hissing,  it is very possible that Barn Owls are around you. They have also been known to make sounds that resemble adults snoring. While this may not be what you imagine when you think of owls, learning these things about them will help you to see another side to the animals. They definitely don’t fit the billing as being typical by any means.

Barn Owl


 Just about any place in the USA you can think of has some Barn Owls. A select group of them are in some areas of Alaska. Thanks to conservation efforts large numbers of them now reside in areas of Hawaii too. Both California and Arizona have large populations as well. These are the two primary states where they migrate to from colder climates in the winter too.

These are very versatile creatures so don’t be surprised by the many locations out there where they can be found. For example some of them are found in the open plains while others prefer the seclusion of the woodlands. They are able to thrive in all of them as long as they can find food sources and they can find shelter for hiding during the day while they rest.

Diet/Feeding Habits

 They have large appetites even though they aren’t very large owls. The good news is that they are extremely good at hunting. They use their combined senses of vision and hearing to find prey that other animals would never realize where even in the same vicinity. They have the ability to silently come up to their prey and that is where the fast action of their talons and beaks take over. Their prey doesn’t’ have a chance of getting out of there such a strong grip.

Rodents are the most common types of food that the Barn Owl eats. In fact, many farmers welcome them around so that they can keep such problems well under control. They don’t have to spend their time or money dealing with those types of critters in their crops or around their homes.

They also eat insects, snakes, rabbits, and squirrels. What they have access to really depends on the area where they live. They are going to take any opportunity to get a meal though as they don’t want to risk not being able to eat when they need to.

Barn Owl´s Video


 The calls that come from these owls will increase in frequency and volume when it is time to find mates. The males and the females will send sounds back and forth until they determine that is the one they will pair off with. The females have a shrill sounding pitch that is very high compared to that of the male. This is how you can tell which party is involved in the sounds.

The females don’t always call back though and that means the male has to continue trying to find a mate. While they initiate the communication the females control it continuing or not. The mating season can be from March until May but often depends on the location where the Barn Owls reside.

The eggs are vulnerable to predators which is why the male and the female switch off keeping them save and warm. They do this in intervals during the day and then again at night so that they are able to search for food. It can take about 33 days for the young to emerge from the eggs. They are very hungry at birth and the process of feeding them continues for many months.

By the time they are four months old they can leave the nest and find their own food. This process is draining physically for the parents and they are ready for the young to be out of the way. Then they will part ways and get rested up from their efforts. By this time they will have taught their young how to survive on their own.


 Predators may find the Barn Owl to be a great meal in some locations. Some of these animals include raccoons and the possum. In other areas there are problems with birds including hawks and eagles. The homes of the owls and humans often overlap which can create problems. When humans hunt them it is usually to get rid of them out of a given area.


Submit a Comment

  • profile image


    5 years ago

    me to

  • profile image

    yo hi 

    6 years ago


  • laurentmikhail profile imageAUTHOR

    Laurent Mikhail 

    6 years ago from Miami, FL

    I completely agree

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    They are so cute!Such lovely creatures

  • Granny's House profile image

    Granny's House 

    7 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

    Beautiful. I love owls.

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 

    8 years ago from London, UK

    It is one of mine most beloved birds. Thank you


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