The Barn owl is one of the most incredible birds of prey! It has some of the most beautiful features in the owl family. It is very easy to tell apart from owls such as the great horned owl and other family members. Here are some fascinating barn owl facts to help you learn about this amazing bird.
Barn Owl Discovery
The barn owl was first discovered in 1769 in the country of Tyrol, which is in the continent of Europe. It was first known as the Strix alba, which means “white owl.” Alba means white in Latin, and Strix means owl in Greek. The barn owl was later renamed. It was renamed Tyto alba. The name was taken from Tytonidae, the scientific family or genus of the barn owl belongs to. Tytonidae means night owl.
Barn Owl Names
There are many common names for barn owls around the world. These names are:
- monkey-faced owl
- ghost owl
- demon owl
- church owl
- silver owl
- death owl
- hissing owl
- hobgoblin or hobby owl
- dobby owl
- golden owl
- silver owl
- cave owl
- stone owl
- white owl
- rat owl
- straw owl
- delicate owl
Many of these names came from the white appearance of the barn owl or its very distinct screeching. The eastern screech owl and the barn owl are often found in the same places. Their hoots or screeches may be confused. However, the two owls look very different from one another. Some of the relatives of barn owls are the tawny owl, eagle owl, and the short-eared owl.
Barn Owl Characteristics
Owls in the barn owl family are all similar in size. They are medium-sized owls. The common barn owl is about 13 to 16 inches long. These owls weigh up to 1.4 pounds. The face of the barn owl is the most familiar feature. It is white, heart-shaped, and has brown feathers surrounding it.
Barn Owls have large eyes and excellent eyesight. This eyesight allows them to see in the complete darkness when hunting for prey. The barn owl has long wings and the wings are rounded. They also have short tails and long legs. The barn owl has large toes and powerful talons. Their claws are long to help catch their prey in long grasses or weeds.
Female barn owls have brown and darker gray soft feathers on their backs, and they also have darker gray or black barring on their feathers. Barring is a fancy word for vertical (up and down) and horizontal (across) striping on the barn owl’s feathers. The tail feathers of male owls are white with light gray. The end of each wing feather is white in both male and female barn owls.
Barn Owl Facts
There are so many interesting barn owl facts. Here is some of the most important information about barn owls and what makes them unique and different from other owls you may learn about or see.
Barn owls are the most widespread owls of all the owls found in many parts of the world. They can be found in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, India, Southeast Asia, and Australia. The barn owl needs to live near open land to make hunting easier, and they can be found on the edges of forests, farmland, and even cities. When looking in these places for a barn owl nest or home, look in hollow trees, tree holes, small caves on cliffs, or even on riverbanks.
Many people, such as farmers, will set up a nest box on their property to try and attract barn owls. By having a nest box, the owls can hunt and live, keeping the rodents and other unwanted pests off of the land. That’s a great way for farmers and owls to work together!
Barn owls do not eat a wide variety of food. They eat mostly rodents, which does not mean only mice and small rats. It can include shrews, young rabbits, and other small mammals. If they need to they will eat a small number of birds, lizards, and insects. If absolutely necessary, barn owls may even eat frogs or fish.
Since they usually swallow their food whole, barn owls, like most owls, cannot digest the fur and bones of their prey. The indigestible parts of the prey are regurgitated or thrown back up in the form of an owl pellet. An owl typically takes about 6 hours to produce an owl pellet.
The barn owl does not have the same hoot of other owls. Instead, they make a long, harsh scream that lasts about 2 seconds. This scream is made by male owls mostly and they call repeatedly. The female owl does not call as much and has a softer version of the call.
A group of owls when they are babies is called a clutch. Barn owls can lay anywhere from 2 to 18 eggs. A wild barn owl will lay eggs in their nest site 1 to 2 times a year. Baby barn owls are naked when they are born and many may call them ugly. They quickly develop a down covering and will have a heart-shaped face and flight feathers in five weeks.
Baby owls are like kittens. They love to jump, pounce, run, hiss, and move their heads. The male owl is in charge of bringing small animals back to the nesting site. The female owl then rips them apart and feeds it to the chicks.
By 14 weeks, all baby barn owls are to leave the nest. If one tries to stick around it will probably be chased away by the parents. The barn owl has no instinct to return home. Once they leave the nest they will never return.
Barn Owl Fun Facts
Barn owls have an impressive wingspan. The wingspan of barn owls ranges from 107cm to 110 cm. This length is about 3 feet 7 inches long, about the height of 3 two-liter soda bottles stacked.
Barn owls are nocturnal animals. Nocturnal means they sleep during the day and are awake at night. The food or small vertebrates the barn owls like to eat are typically awake during the nighttime hours. Barn owls have sharp claws to help them rip apart their prey. They can catch their prey very easily because of silent flight. They don’t make a “swoosh” sound when flying because of their fringe-edged feathers!
Cool Barn Owl Facts
- The barn owl is about the size of a small cat but only weighs about 1 pound.
- They can catch a mouse in complete darkness.
- Young barn owls start to fly around 60 days after hatching
- Barn owls have uneven ears. One is higher on their head than the other.
Barn owls are pretty fascinating birds and are super cool to learn about!