Taxonomic Name: Tyto abba
Range: Found throughout the world.
Habitat: Open country, forest edge, cities, and clearings, as well as barns, church steeples, and other buildings.
Physical Characteristics: Wingspan: 4', Length: 13-19" The upper body color is golden brown while the underside is usually white with brown spots. They have a white heart-shaped face and long legs. There are no feather tufts on the head.
Longevity: Approximately 3 years in the wild. The oldest known in captivity is 18 years.
Social Structure: They form life long pair bonds.
Active Time: Nocturnal
Diet: Wild - Small mammals up to the size of a rat (i.e. voles, mice, shrews, rats). Will also eat bats (caught in flight), small birds, frogs, and various large insects.
Zoo - Mice
Zoo - Mice
Behavior: The barn owl is distinctly nocturnal and spends the day in dark places. They hunt in open country avoiding extensive woodlands. They tend to be sensitive to the cold because they aren't equipped to put on a layer of fat in the fall. In sever winters an entire stock may perish.
Reproduction: The barn owl attains sexual maturity at one year of age. Their reproduction is very dependant on availability of food. The more food, the larger the clutch size and they may even breed twice that year. They are generally monogamous and pair bond for life. Brood sites are dark nooks in buildings such as belfries, barns, niches in walls of vaults or towers. They will also brood in caves of rocks and hollow trees. There is no nest built and the eggs are deposited directly on the floor of the brood site. There are generally 4 - 7 eggs laid which are pure white and rather elongated (to help them from rolling out of the brood). The male will bring food to the female while she incubates the eggs. They have an incubation period of ~30 days per egg. The young are usually on their own at the age of three months.
- The barn owl is endangered in Indiana.
- The clutch size depends on availability of food.
- Their high pitched screeching sounds probably gave way to the start of ghost stories.
- Some researchers feel the barn owl is more closely related to the falcons based on their skeletal structure.
Relationship With Humans: They are becoming endangered in certain parts of the world due to destruction of habitat by humans. People mow their grass right up to the barn. This is where mice and other small mammals would hide. Without a food source, the owl can't survive.