Raptorpedia

Barn Owl

Nicknames

Monkey-faced owl, ghost owl

Watch a slow-mo video clip of the barn owl now

Identification Features

  • Medium-sized, slender owl
  • Long, thin legs and short tail
  • Distinctive white "heart-shaped" face
  • Mostly white on the belly, the back is cinnamon-red and grey with small dark spots
  • Males and females are similiar, but females have a slightly darker back and belly

Wingspan: 40-45"

Length: 16-20"

Weight: 12-21 oz.

Flight Behavior

They are partial migrants during the winter in northern portions of their range.  They typically hunt low to the ground soaring back and forth over fields.

Vocal Call

Barn Owls are fairly vocal year-round with a wide variety of sounds.  The most common being a harsh hissing shriek - cssshhtt or kar-r-r-r-ick.  Other sounds include screams, hisses, snorts, squeaks and bill snapping. 

Feeding Habits

Barn Owls are strictly nocturnal and hunt primarily in large, open fields.  Their preferred prey are small mammals, especially voles and mice.  They will occassionally take bats, small birds and reptiles. 

Barn Owl Raptor Bites

  • The Barn Owl is the most widely distributed owl in the world. It is found on every continent, except Antarctica
  • Barn Owls are cavity nesters.  Common nest sites are large trees, old barns, silos or other man-made structures
  • They have a long, drawn out breeding season and will lay eggs from April-October
  • Barn Owls have exceptional hearing and low-light vision.  This allows them to hunt prey strictly by sound
  • A Barn Owl family can consume approximately 3,000 mice in one year
  • Changing agricultural practices and development have threatened some Barn Owl populations, but nestboxes have helped increase numbers in other areas

Build a Barn Owl Box

Easy to build nestbox plans available from the PA Game Commission

Enersys