BARN OWL

Tyto alba

TOP 5 ID TIPS: BARN OWLS

  • Overall cream and tan-color

  • Prominent facial disk

  • Long, downward-pointing bill

  • Long legs

  • Dark brown/black eyes

© Ly Dang / nature2pixels.com

BARN OWL FACTS: 

A medium-sized white to light brown owl with heart-shaped face, long ivory to pinkish colored beak, and relatively small (compared to other owls), dark eyes

 

Males: great variety in plumage (feather coloring), chest and belly range in color from white to buff to light brown; back is usually rusty brown with some barring and spotting

 

Females: often darker plumage than males

 

Young: white to pale gray or buff (similar to adults)

OTHER NAMES: 

Barn Owl, Cave Owl, Death Owl, Ghost Owl, Golden Owl, Monkey-faced Owl, Night Owl, Screech Owl, Silver Owl, White Owl


FAMILY:

 

Tytonidae


CLOSEST RELATIVE:

 

Common Barn Owl

BARN OWL SIZE:

Height: Males 32 - 40 cm (13 - 16 in), Females 32 - 40 cm (13 - 16 in)

 
Weight: Males 440 - 510 g (1.0 lbs), Females 510 - 625 g (1.2 lbs)

Wingspan: Males 100 - 125 cm (39 - 49 in), Females 100 - 125 cm (39 - 49 in)

BARN OWL RANGE:

In North America found in parts of British Columbia, most of the U.S., and into Mexico and the Caribbean, worldwide

 

BARN OWL HABITAT:

 

Diverse habitats; prefers open land with some trees, roosts and nests in barns, buildings, cliffs, and trees

BARN OWL DIET:

Almost exclusively small mammals like voles, mice, and rats; occasionally birds; rarely reptiles, amphibians, and arthropods

BARN OWL VOICE:

A wide range of calls during breeding: screeching, wheezing, purring, snoring, twittering, hissing, and yelping

Males: typical call is a hoarse, eerie sounding hissing

screech: “shreeeee, shreeeee”

Females: usually lower-pitched

BARN OWL NESTING:

Nest Site: usually a cavity nester; also nests in cliffs, banks, caves, buildings, nestboxes, or abandoned nests of other birds

Eggs: usually 4-7 (sometimes up to 16) dull-white, elongated eggs, laid asynchronously every 2-3 days

Incubation: 29-35 days

BARN OWL HUNTING HABITS:

Typically nocturnal; hunts mostly by low quartering flight over open habitats, occasionally from perch.  Detects prey using excellent hearing and low-light vision

BARN OWL CONSERVATION STATUS: 

Not globally threatened; decline in many areas.

BARN OWL RESEARCH:

See RESEARCH for The Owl Research Institute's study on Barn Owls

BARN OWL CLASSIFICATION

The Barn Owl is in a class of its own, literally!

 

Or to be more precise, the Barn Owl is in a family of its own. Not only does the Barn Owl look different than other owls, due to its heart-shaped face, short tail, and small eyes, it is actually classified in a different group than all other North American owls.

 

Scientists classify plant and animal species with a system called taxonomy, grouping species with similar characteristics into the same family. Most of the North American owl species are grouped together in a family called Strigidae,  a.k.a. the  “typical owls”. Barn Owls, however, belong to a family called Tytonidae, which comes from the Greek word tuto, which means, “night owl”. 

Barn Owl - Denver Holt
00:00 / 00:00

BARN OWL DISTRIBUTION IN NORTH AMERICA

Maps provided by The Birds of North America Online and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

MEDIA INQUIRIES 

 

We welcome all media inquiries. If you are a credentialed member of the media and wish to set up an interview or request further information, please e-mail liberty@owlresearchinstitute.org.

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PHOTO CREDIT

 

We are so grateful to the photographers who capture owls, and our work, in the most amazing ways. They generously share their work with us, and you. Check out the works of some of the photographers whose work is featured on our site! They are incredible talented artists who are committed to wildlife conservation.

Thank you to:

Kurt Lindsay: https://kurtlindsay.smugmug.com/Nebulosa/i-7D8Wh9d

Daniel J Cox: http://naturalexposures.com

Radd Icenoggle: https://www.flickr.com/photos/radley521

Melissa Groo: https://www.melissagroo.com

Ly Dang: https://www.nature2pixels.com

Tom Murphy: https://www.tmurphywild.com/

Deborah Hanson

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