The barn owl is a beautiful bird with snow-white plumage on underparts, extending over feathered legs. This contrasts nicely with a warm yellowish-brown rump, back, nape and crown. On closer inspection, the upperparts also reveal soft grey mottling and rows of tiny black spots. They have a slim body, long wings and a squarish tail. Feet are grey-brown, with powerful toes equipped with long, sharp talons. Juveniles resemble adults as soon as their down is lost.
Barn owls call in a purring shriek, repeated. Their song is a drawn-out rattling or gargling shriek.
James P, XC621140. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/621140.
The barn owl’s outer toes are reversible to give it a better grip on prey.
Barn owls eat small mammals, especially voles; frogs; insects; and sometimes birds.
Check out this guide on what Barn Owls eat.
The barn owl is found all over Europe and the UK. It makes a home wherever there are suitable buildings, including country churchyards, ruins or barns.
One of the barn owl’s ears is higher than the other, which enables it to locate its prey more accurately.
Barn Owl on post
Barn owls are nocturnal and crepuscular. However, in Britain, they do on occasion hunt by day. They can also be seen at twilight on winter afternoons patrolling along hedgerows in search of prey. In flight, the barn owl shows warm-buff flight and tail feathers with dark-brown barring. Their flight is slow and elegant and they appear long-necked and short-tailed. Feet dangle when hovering. The barn owl’s white face and underparts are what are most likely to be visible.
Barn owls breed in farmland with scattered copses, gardens, and sometimes villages next to open fields. They will nest in holes in trees or buildings, where females lay 2-7 smooth white eggs. The female will do all the incubation, while the male provides her and the young with food. They will usually pair for life, or for as long as both individuals survive.
For more information on the nesting habits of barn owls, check out this guide.
Young Barn Owl
On average, barn owls live for 4 years in the wild.
For more information on the lifespan of barn owls, check out this article.
Barn owls are sedentary.
The European barn owl population is in decline due to the reduction in traditional farming methods and increased use of pesticides. The barn owl is the most widely distributed species of owl in the world.
Known collective nouns for a group of Barn Owls are as follows:
General collective nouns for a group of Owls may also be used:
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The Eurasian Scops Owl is one of the smaller members of the Strigidae family of owls being smaller even than the Little Owl. It is one of the few European owls that leaves its breeding grounds and migrates south during the winter.
The Tawny Owl is a carnivorous night hunter common throughout Europe and western Asia with pockets found within the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent. It shouldn’t be confused with the Tawny Fish-owl of East Asia, the Tawny-bellied Screech owl of South America nor the Tawny-browed owl found on the eastern side of South America. The tawny owl is also occasionally referred to as the Brown Owl.
Unlike most owls, this medium sized bird is often seen hunting during daylight hours, mainly around dawn and dusk and particularly across farmland and in grassland, marsh and moorland areas.
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