Barn Owl

Tyto alba




Barn Owls, Typical Owls (Tytonidae & Strigidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

White, sometimes nest stained.

Number of Eggs:

2 - 12

Incubation Days:

29 - 34

Egg Incubator:


Nest Location:

Tree cavity, barn loft, building, nest box, crevice, mine shaft, or cave.

Nest Material:

Debris arranged into crude depression.





Barn Owl: Medium-sized owl with glaring white, heart-shaped facial disk and light gray "veil" that is finely streaked, mottled and speckled dark. Lacks ear tufts; long, densely feathered legs. Eyes are dark. Upperparts are orange-brown with fine white spots and dark bars. Underparts are white with small black spots. There is considerable racial variation from light gray to buff with varying amounts of black speckling. Female darker than male. Juvenile is similar to adult but may be more heavily spotted. It feeds primarily on small mammals and also takes small birds. It has a slow, silent moth-like flight.

Range and Habitat

Barn Owl: Found in southern British Columbia and much of the U.S., with the exception of many northern states. Occurs on every continent except Antarctica. Found in a vast range of habitats, from rural to urban, but prefers warm climates with mild winters. Nearby open grassland is essential; rarely found in deep forests or mountains.

Breeding and Nesting

Barn Owl: These owls mate for life and have a life expectancy of two years or less. Their reproductive rate is higher than that of other owls. They lay two to twelve round, white eggs, more when prey is abundant. They build nests in hollow trees, cliff ledges and crevices, caves, inside barns, silos, church steeples, and abandoned buildings. They use their nesting sites for roosting as well.

Foraging and Feeding

Barn Owl: They hunt at night, beginning about one hour after sunset and ending one hour before sunrise. Their diet consists mostly of rodents but also shrews, bats and leporids. Birds, reptiles, amphibians and arthropods are a smaller part of their diet. Their ability to locate prey by sound is the most accurate out of any animal tested, allowing the capture of prey hidden by vegetation or snow.


Barn Owl: Calls range from a rasping hiss to hair-raising screams of "kiiissh" and "shrreeeee, shrreeeee." Does not hoot like other owls.

Similar Species

Barn Owl: Short-eared Owl is streaked, has darker face and underparts, yellow eyes, and shorter legs. Snowy Owl is a rare winter vagrant in much of this range. 


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X