Habitat & Range
The barn owl is widely distributed throughout the world. Prior to human settlement, barn owls nested in tree cavities, burrows, and sometimes abandoned nests. They are now more commonly found in man-made buildings such as barns (hence the name).
Barn owls have golden-brown plumage covering their upper body and grayish-white coloring on their chest and belly. They have a heart-shaped, white face with a ring of brown feathers around it. The females are often larger than males, ranging in size from 10 to 20 inches long, with wingspans 30 to 45 inches in length. Contrary to popular belief, the barn owl does not “hoot.” Instead it emits a shrill scream. They also utilize loud hisses and shrieks to scare away predators.
Like most owls, the barn owl primarily preys on small rodents. They are also known to hunt and eat small birds and snakes.
Reproduction & Lifespan
Barn owl mates are monogamous and remain together for life. They do not build nests; instead they will lay their eggs (usually 5 to 10) in a bed of their own pellets, or in secluded corners and tree hollows.
The average lifespan of a barn owl living in the wild is 4 years. Captive birds have been known to live between 10 and 20 years.
Fantastic Fact Effective Pest Control
The asymmetrical placing of the barn owl’s ears allow for it’s acute hearing that can better detect sound position and distance. It can easily target and capture rodents with efficiency. Combined with it’s high metabolic rate, it is believed that the barn owl consumes more rodents than any other creature, and thus it is a valuable ally to the farmer working to protect his crops from pests.
Copyright 2014 Elmwood Park Zoo
1661 Harding Blvd
Norristown, PA 19401
Main Number: 610.277.3825
Fax Number: 610.292.0332