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Species Description

Barn Owl

Tyto alba


Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Strigiformes
Family: Tytonidae


Pale overall; mottled browns and rust above; white underparts spotted with brown; barred tail. 42 cm (16 in) in length. Face looks heart-shaped with its brown outline

Life Cycle

The breeding season begins in January to February and extends into May. Breeding habitat for this owl is associated with open areas for hunting and a suitable snag or building in which to place its nest. The bird commonly nests in a cavity, on a ledge of a cliff, or on a ledge in a building. No nest is constructed, and the eggs are placed in a depression created in existing debris. The female lays 3-11 (usually 5-7) eggs that she incubates for 30-34 days. The male feeds the female while she incubates the eggs. The young are semialtricial and fledge about 52-56 days after hatching. Both adults take turns feeding the young. The young become independent of the adults about 10 weeks after hatching.

Natural History

The Barn Owl is nocturnal, being active mostly from dusk until dawn. Non-breeding habitat is similar to the breeding habitat. The diet of this species consists mostly of rodents, but also includes birds and other small vertebrates. Most food is found while the owl is in flight. It will then swoop down and capture the prey. This species does not migrate.


Barn Owl Region Map The Barn Owl occurs throughout most of the United States all year, except the northernmost states in the central and eastern portions of the country. In Georgia, this species can be seen throughout the state all year.

Conservation Status

Althugh it is not yet listed as Threatened or Endangered in any portion of its southeastern range, the Barn Owl has declined in numbers because of increased urbanization and other forms of habitat loss. This species will use nesting boxes placed in appropriate habitat.

Similar Species

Because of the pale color of this owl, it could be misidentified as a Snowy Owl. The Snowy Owl is a rare southern visitor; usually only young birds visit the Southeast to spend their winter. The Snowy Owl is much lighter overall, and does not have the rusty browns on the upper parts of the body.