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Barn Owl by Andy Rouse
© Barn Owl by Andy Rouse

Barn Owl

Tyto Alba

Perhaps the most familiar owl, the barn owl will often hunt during the daytime and can be seen ‘quartering’ over fields and grasslands looking for its next small mammal meal.

© Barn owl, Jon Hawkins - Surrey Hills Photography

However, barn owls are also perfectly adapted to hunt in darkness with deadly precision: their silent flight and heart-shaped face which directs high-frequency sounds, help them to find mice and voles in the vegetation.

How to Identify

Unmistakeable: the barn owl is ghostly white below, mottled silver-grey and buff above with a heart-shaped, white face and black eyes.

Where to Find

Widespread, absent from the Highlands of Scotland.

How People Can Help

Although widespread across Britain and even the world, barn owls have suffered huge declines here over the last 50 years due to agricultural intensification and habitat loss. Working with farmers, landowners, other organisations and local people, The Wildlife Trusts have helped to halt this decline by providing suitable nestboxes and managing habitats for their benefit and the benefit of their small mammal prey. You can help barn owls to bounce back by volunteering for your local Wildlife Trust and helping with everything from nestbox schemes to habitat maintenance.

Did you know?

Throughout history, barn owls have been known by many different names such as ‘ghost owl’, ‘church owl’ and ‘screech owl’. But the name ‘demon owl’, in particular, illustrates how they were considered by some rural populations – something not so difficult to understand when you hear its piercing call.

Key Facts

  • Length: 33-39cm
  • Wingspan: 89cm
  • Weight: 300g
  • Average Lifespan: 4 years


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