Now is the right to learn some of the most fascinating barn owl facts for kids including barn owl habitat, diet, breeding and its behavior. The barn owl (Tyto alba) is one of the most common birds in the world as well as widely distributed owl species. These owls are commonly known as Common Barn Owl. Barn owls belongs to the family of Tytonidae and are known to reside in almost every continent except in Polar Regions, Pacific Islands, Desert areas, north of Alpide belt and Indonesia. These species are called by too many names including Hissing Owl, Monkey-faced Owl, Dobby Owl, Cave Owl, Death Owl, Church Owl, Ghost Owl, Night Owl, Demon Owl, White Owl, Screech Owl, Straw Owl, Stone Owl, Rat Owl, Silver Owl, Golden Owl, Straw Owl, Scritch Owl, and Delicate Owl. These owl species are seldom known as Australian Barn Owl, and Eastern Barn Owl. Barn owls are generally known for their silent flight.
Of all the owls the widespread barn owl is the most closely associated with man. Its natural nesting sites are hollow trees, cliffs, or old hawks’ nest. Now it nests most often in buildings, particularly in abandoned or little used ones, such as church steeples or barn lofts. One of the most favorite sites of barns owls is ruined buildings or structures that seem haunted places due to the presence of these owls. They typically make sounds like shrill or a long-drawn scream. They are easily recognized by their heart-shaped facial discs, and for the same reason barns owls are often referred to as ‘monkey-faced owls’. Apart from their unique face, barns owls have long legs even longer than their tail. These legs are covered with feathers all along downward.
Interesting Barn Owl Facts For Kids
- The barn owl is a long-legged owl together with broad wings; the facial look is more likely to be of monkey exhibiting heart-shaped facial disc.
- The length of the barn owls measure around 25 – 50 cm (9.8 – 20 inches), along with a wingspan measuring at 75 – 110 cm (30 – 43 inches).
- The weight of these owls averaging 187 – 800 grams (6.6 – 28 oz), with owls nearer to the tropics is usually smaller.
- The upper body and head of barn owl is generally pale brown while the forehead displays a rather dark colored expression.
- These owls have reddish-white undersides which are mostly unpatterned displaying pale brown speckles.
- The female barn owls are slightly larger than males as in the case of birds of prey. The stronger females can weigh as much as 550 grams (19.4 oz) while males are 10% lighter.
- Unlike Tawny Owls, barn owls do not produce hooting sound rather it produces shree screams which can be irritating.
- Like typical owls, Barn owls are nocturnal and are seldom seen in daylight; however, they may become active before dusk.
- These owls preferably reside in the open grasslands, farmlands, and woodlands that are no more than 2,000 meters high. Some of these species are also found along the edges of woods.
- In captivity, barn owls can live as long as 20 years or more, with averaging 12 years.
- These owls may fall victim to several predators including hawks, great horned owls, Eurasian eagle owls, snakes, humans, and feral cats.
- These birds are not threatened as they are widely distributed worldwide. There are around 150,000 breeding pairs of barn owls across Europe according to a survey conducted in 1995 – 1997.
- The barn owls have a keen sense of hearing which is why they don’t have to rely on their sight for hunting.
- Barn owls are nocturnal but they are often seen just before dusk or at daytime.
- Barn owls fancy living in grasslands, woodlands, and open country with an altitude of around 2,000 meters and seldom found above 3,000 meters.
- Barn owls are not migratory and tend to be resident wherever they occur. Besides, they also demonstrate absolute faithfulness to breeding sites and use the same one year after year.
Whether they are living in natural environment or artificial roosting places (such as ruined buildings) barn owls will hunt terrestrial mammals including rodents. Barn owls are known to fly just above the open ground hovering over spots that cover potential prey. It predominantly feeds on small vertebrates, with rodents in particular. A bird is found to consume one or more rodents in a single night and almost 1,000 rodents each year. They also eat local small vertebrate and large invertebrate life weighing from 0.05 grams to a weight of an owl itself. Barn owls are found to prey baby rabbits, Cryptomys blesmols, and vlei rats. These birds do not prey on domestic animals but it might prey a young guinea pig or a young chicken once or twice in its lifetime. There are about 15 to 20% birds in the barn owls diet; it also takes on bats, toads, termites, Jerusalem crickets, and shrews. It has a keen sense of hearing which is the primary medium for hunting as it cannot rely on its poor sight. Barn owls also feed on other animals if and only if the small mammals are scarce or the alternative prey is abundant. Owls living in Cape Verde Islands primarily feeds on several birds such as turnstones, pratincoles, plovers, and weavers. They are also known to take on reptiles including geckos.
Barn Owls Diet in Europe | Barn Owl Facts For Kids
The total number of small mammals that barn owls prey on constitutes less than 0.5% of the diet, ranging from 2 – 25 in several parts of the world showing that the variety of barn owls diet differs a great deal from place to place. Mostly, they prey on small animals. Barn owls inhabiting Europe tends to take on three major groups of mammals; voles (Microtidae), shrews (Soricidae), mice and rats (Muridae), although their virtual importance differs from region to region. All in all, voles (especially field voles) are the most common part of the barn owls diet throughout Britain and Europe.
Barn owls living in North America are found to consume shrews (Sorex, Balrina and Cryptotis spp), harvest mice (Reithrodontomys spp.), pocket gophers (Thomomys and geomys spp.), kangaroo rats (Dipodomys spp.), voles (Microtus spp.), white-footed mice (Peromyscus spp.), wood rats (Neotoma spp.), Old World rats, mice (Muridae), and rice rats (Oryzomys spp.)
Barn Owls Diet in Africa
African Barn owls primarily rely on rodents, which typically constitutes 80 to 90% of all items consumed. Owls inhabiting Africa tend to have a varied diet such as in Transvaal, they prey on 25 small mammal species on daily basis.
Learn more: What Do Barn Owls Eat
Breeding | Barn Owl Facts For Kids
The breeding period for barn owls begins in March and goes to early April. The breeding time can be random all throughout the year. They build their nests in caves and mine shafts. The female lays 4 – 6 white eggs which are solely incubated by females. The hatching period lasts for 32 – 34 days. The infants spend quite a long time in their nests, with averaging 64 – 86 days.
Barn owls are typically known to reside in open grasslands, hedgerows, heaths and marshes. They are seldom found in large gardens and in villages that are in close proximity to the fields. They make their nests in tree cavities, holes, farm building, and ruined buildings.
Barn owls have almost global distribution and they are believed to emerge in lightly wooded environments and warm savannahs, extending towards northwards subsequent to the human settlements. Barn owls nest in cavities or other tree holes; they also rely on fissures or cliffs or abandoned nests of other species like woodpeckers.
- T. a. alba (Scopoli, 1769)
- T. a. javanica (J.F.Gmelin, 1788)
- T. a. furcata (Temminck, 1827)
- T. a. tuidara (J.E.Grey, 1829)
- T. a. guttata (C.L.Brehm, 1831)
- T. a. delicatula (Gould, 1837)
- T. a. pratincola (Bonaparte, 1838)
- Tyto alba punctatissima (G.R.Grey, 1838)
- Tyto alba poensis (Fraser, 1842)
- Tyto alba thomensis (Hartlaub, 1852)
- Tyto alba affinis (Blyth, 1862)
- Tyto alba guatemalae (Ridgway, 1874)
- Tyto alba deroepstorffi (Hume, 1875)
- Tyto alba bargei (Hartert, 1892)
- Tyto alba sumbaensis (Hartert, 1897)
- Tyto alba contempta (Hartert, 1898)