RESEARCH FOCUS: BARN OWLS
BARN OWL RESEARCH PROJECT
Barn Owls are the most widely distributed owl in the world, and may be one of the most common, as well. Fossil records and molecular analysis indicate Barn Owls, and their relatives, are the oldest group of living owls. They eat primarily small rodents, and their number can fluctuate with highs and lows in rodent populations.
While uncommon in western Montana, we occasionally find Barn Owls during our annual search of old barns, sheds, silos, and natural cavities. The Barn Owl, known as an agricultural owl, has historically been a welcomed visitor to farms and orchards, where they help control rodent populations that potentially damage crops. We’ve documented 12 Barn Owl nests and numerous observations in the last 12 years. These records, few that they are, provide important distribution data for this species in Montana.