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)
Barn Owl, Cave Owl, Death Owl, Ghost Owl, Golden Owl, Monkey-faced Owl, Night Owl, Screech Owl, Silver Owl, White Owl
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 DISTRIBUTION IN NORTH AMERICA
Maps provided by The Birds of North America Online and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Barn Owl Nest Box Info
For nest box plans and more information on how to attract Barn Owls, visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Project NestWatch website: