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Barn Owl

Classification
  • Order: Strigiformes
  • Family: Tytonidae
  • Genus: Tyto
  • Species: alba
Fun Fact

The barn owl has excellent low-light vision, and can easily find prey at night by sight. But its ability to locate prey by sound alone is the best of any animal that has ever been tested. It can catch mice in complete darkness.

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    About Barn Owls

    Barn owls are classified separately from other owls because of their unique anatomical differences from “true owls.” These differences include a white, heart-shaped facial disc, as “true owls” have round facial discs; a peculiar serration along the inner edge of the central talon of each foot; and the long, slender legs which allow them to pluck rodents out of tall grass. Also, the eyes are very dark which is unusual for owls.

    Barn owls can fly nearly completely silently, and they have the most sensitive hearing out of any animal that has been tested. A single male’s home range covers approximately 12,500 acres of land. Barn owl chicks will feed each other, which is rare in the bird world.

    Barn owls are monogamous. They mate for life but hunt alone. Females will start to nest between mid-March and mid-April and mate in April to early May. They do not build nests but lay their eggs in dark spaces, usually in a tree cavity, and surround the eggs with pellets. They will nest in barns, silos and old buildings, if a tree cavity is not available.

    Barn Owls in the Wild

    Habitat

    They prefer a warmer climate with mild winters. Ohio barn owls sometimes migrate south for the winter.

    Location

    Barn owls live in open habitats across most of the lower 48 states and extend into a few parts of southern Canada (as well as in much of the rest of the world).

    Diet

    Usually owls catch small mammals or rodents and kill them with their powerful talons before swallowing them whole, and head first. Occasionally they will catch larger animals that they must tear apart before eating. Their beaks are sharp and hooked for this purpose. What is not digested by the owl is regurgitated as an owl pellet. These pellets contain feathers, fur, teeth, bones and claws of their prey.

    Population Status

    One of the world’s most widespread birds, their population is rapidly declining in the wild due to barns and old buildings being converted into modern houses and other developments. Due to this decline, they are “endangered" in Ohio.

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