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Barn Owl, Tyto Alba

Barn owl with prey in its talons perched on a log

Barn Owls inhabit agricultural areas, grasslands, open fields, marshes, forests, and even urban environments in North America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia.

Barn Owls are skilled nocturnal hunters with remarkable low-light vision and acute hearing. They have heart-shaped facial discs that help focus sound towards their ears, aiding in precise localization of prey. Their feathers are exceptionally soft and provide silent flight, enabling them to approach prey stealthily. They primarily feed on small mammals, such as mice, voles, shrews, and rats. They also consume other small vertebrates like birds, reptiles, amphibians, and large insects.

Barn Owls are known for their distinctive screeching calls, which are often associated with their nocturnal presence.

Barn Owls are cavity nesters, seeking out sheltered and concealed spaces for their nests. They commonly use natural cavities in trees, abandoned buildings, barns, church steeples, cliffs and man-made nest boxes. They do not construct elaborate nests. Instead, they lay their eggs on a bed of regurgitated pellets, feathers, and debris within the chosen nesting cavity. They will occasionally rearrange the nesting material or add fresh materials during incubation.

Barn Owls typically lay 4 to 6 eggs in a clutch, although larger clutches have been observed in some populations. The female is primarily responsible for incubating the eggs, which lasts around 29 to 34 days. Once the eggs hatch, both parents actively participate in feeding the chicks, bringing back prey to the nest.

The young owlets grow rapidly and develop their flight feathers before fledging. Barn Owl chicks usually fledge at around 8 to 10 weeks of age. After leaving the nest, they continue to rely on their parents for several weeks as they refine their flight skills and hunting abilities.

Barn Owls are generally non-migratory birds. However, in regions with harsh winters and limited food availability, some individuals may undertake short-distance migrations to more favorable habitats. They often remain in the same general area throughout the year, utilizing a variety of habitats suitable for hunting and roosting.