23 Fun Facts about Barn Owls

Barn Owls are also known as Common Barn Owls. They are the most widespread species of birds which are found everywhere from Polar Regions to deserts.

However, it would be wrong to underestimate such a common creature as it has some qualities that would surely surprise you.

Barn Owl

Here’s a list of fun facts about Barn Owls that you probably did not know:

Hyper-Sensitive Eyesight

Barn Owls have twice as sensitive eyesight as humans, which comes in handy when hunting.

Their sharp vision allows them to detect the slightest of movements, making them exceptional hunters.

They prey on small mammals, so anything that moves is instantly noticed, so if the little mouse wants to stay alive, they better practice staying still.

Different Ears

Barn Owl’s heart-shaped face does more than just adding to its beauty; it also collects and directs sounds towards its inner ears.

Its ears are placed behind its eyes but are placed differently and shaped asymmetrically, one being higher than the other.

This enables the Barn Owl to know the exact direction of the sound, which comes in handy when looking for food.

High on Monogamy

Like most birds, Barn Owls also mate for life.

These majestic birds tend to follow a more traditional approach when it comes to mating.

Barn Owls are usually monogamous birds who stick with one partner throughout their life cycle.

It is very rare for these birds to break apart and practice polygamy.

Super Soft Feathers

A big contributor to Barn Owl’s success towards hunting is their ability to sneak up on their prey.

All thanks to their extremely soft feathers! Their wings allow them to fly silently, which makes it easier to catch prey off guard.

Unless those voles or mice have overly sensitive senses, they probably won’t even register what’s coming at them.

No Hoots, Only Screeches

A common misconception: we assume all owls hoot. However, that is not the case when it comes to Barn Owls.

Barn Owls are known for their loud screeches, which are known to awfully loud, even ear-shattering.

The males have a distinct shrieking sound which is usually repeated several times.

Abrading Feathers

Unlike snakes, Barn Owls do not shed their skin, but they do abrade their feathers and replace them in given intervals! 

Since Barn Owls depend on their soft feathers for their excellent ability to hunt, they need to occasionally shed their feathers to remain agile and maneuver quickly in flight.

Most females tend to molt while incubating the eggs and raising the chicks; since the male hunts and feeds her, she does not need to fly much.

Whereas the male molts later in the year when there is extra food available for the family and the female has finished brooding and resumed hunting.

Long Legs and Toes

Barn Owls have rather long legs and toes along with long talons that further help while hunting.

With such long and sharp nails, they can catch prey that is hidden within the grass and scoop them up in seconds!

Nocturnal Beings

While this may seem like an obvious fact, some owls can be seen in the summer. Barn Owls, in specific, are most efficient during the nighttime.

They search for prey and make the kill in the dark; that’s when they are the most active!

However, it is not unusual to see a Barn Owl in daylight. It may be rare, but it is possible.

Not Snow-Friendly

Barn Owls do not do well in the snow. They’re highly dependent on hunting which becomes exceptionally tough during snowfall.

Since rodents, voles, etc., tend to hibernate during the winters, it is hard to hunt and find prey which leads to starvation and causes many of them to die.

Even though their feathers may be soft, they’re not waterproof.

So, any snow or rainfall causes to slow down flight due to being soaked.

No Concept of Chewing

Funnily, Barn Owls tend to swallow their prey as a whole similar to snakes. However, they do not digest the pellets.

A Barn Owl coughs up the pellets approximately twice a day instead of passing them through their digestive system.

This act has greatly helped scientists in studying the owls further and getting to know them better.

Subject to Superstition

Barn Owls are often subject to superstition due to their ghost-like appearance and banshee sounds.

Moreover, in England, they’re mostly found residing in graveyards or similar places, due to which people have begun to believe that a Barn Owl flying by symbolizes approaching death.

No Proper Nesting

Female Barn Owls do not usually prepare proper nests for their hatchlings; they tend to form nests in open areas or hollows within the trees.

This way, they always remain close by to their prey and can hunt easily whenever needed.

Great at Pest Control

Barn Owls mainly feed on pests, voles, mice, shrew, etc. While small rats may be incorporated into their diet from time to time, it mainly consists of the above.

So, if you’re looking to go down on the number of pests in your area, you know what to do!

Food Determines Number of Eggs

Within the Barn Owl species, the amount of food they receive determines the number of eggs that will be laid.  

A female may lay eggs early during a good vole hunting season Those large broods are then nurtured successfully.

Moreover, if there is exceptionally large hunting of voles, the pair may even consider having two brooding seasons.

However, the second brood is usually smaller than the first one.

Relatively Small Life Span

According to several studies, approximately 70% of Barn Owls die within their first year or have an average life span of 20.8 months.

While some studies have recorded that survivors in the wild can live up to 5-8 years.

The oldest known Barn Owl was found in Ohio that lived up to 15 years.

Killed By Rat Poison

Since Barn Owls tend to prey on small rodents, they often consume rat poison and kill themselves.

Another common cause of Barn Owl deaths is parasites.

Due to them hunting rather unclean rodents and awkward nesting situations, they invite many parasites.

Barn Owls are attacked by feather lice and feather mites which end up eating their flesh and feathers and are also highly contagious.

These parasites and blood-sucking creatures are often caused due to the Barn Owls feasting on infected prey.

91% of post-mortem Barn Owls have brought about results of rat kill within their systems. Most of them die immediately, and some have lethal effects.

Prey to Raccoons and Parasites

One may think that these birds are untouchable, given their majestic aura.

Sadly, that is not the case.

Barn Owls are hunted and killed by many raccoons, possums, and even larger birds! Carnivorous birds, such as eagles and hawks, also hunt them.

Non-Territorial

Barn Owls are mostly nonterritorial. Many adults live peacefully in overlapping homelands.

Each homeland covers around 300 to 5000 hectares! 

Barn Owls Have 46 Races

Almost 46 races for Barn Owls have been recorded all over the world.

The North American race is known as the largest comparatively.

The North American Barn Owls tend to weigh twice as much as the smallest race which is the Galapagos Islands.

They Eat A Lot

As we’ve determined, Barn Owls eat small rodents, and different types of pests and voles.

These creatures eat about 4 mammals per night!

That makes it around 1460 mammals per year! Looks like they’ve got quite the appetite.

Tyto Alba: Barn Owls

The species name for Barn Owls is known Tyto Alba, and ‘Alba’ means white in color, explaining why Barn Owls have been named so.

While they have been given many other names such as Ghost Owl, Night Owl, Silver Owl, Monkey Owl, Rat Owl, and the list goes on!

It is said that the Barn Owl was first discovered in 1769 by Giovanni Scopoli, who was a Tyrolean naturalist.

Rural to Urban Habitats

Barn Owls live in multiple places ranging from rural to urban areas.

They are usually found on lower ground locations such as open habitats.

True to their name, they prefer to stay close to farming sites, grasslands, marshes, deserts, etc., since they require hollow spaces for nesting in caves, cavities in riverbanks, next boxes, etc.

Endangered Status

Climatic changes and pesticides are the most common factors threatening the population of Barn Owls.

However, they do not fall under the endangered birds’ category by law.

These majestic birds are safeguarded under The U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act and under CITES Appendix II.

Final Words

All in all, Barn Owls are beautiful species. They have a strangely captivating yet mysterious aura, which may often subject them to several misconceptions.

However, in recent research, it is now observed that after many years of the falling population- the British population for Barn Owls is now finally on the rise.

Lastly, if you’ve managed to reach the end, you should be a Barn Owl pro by now!

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