Last Updated: Jan 8th, 2011 - 16:45:13
| The Barn Owl
By Sarah Lane
Aug 19, 2006, 10:17 PST
The Barn Owl
The Barn Owl is a medium sized owl with a short upper torso and long legs and wings. It has a heart-shaped face and very dark slanted eyes that are smaller than most other owls. It also has a very short tail. The female Barn Owl has a tawny face and underparts whereas the male is white in color.
In North America, the Barn Owl is a year round resident except for way up north where they do migrate. These owls dont build nests like their relatives. Instead they use sheltered places such as holes in large trees, in the side of cliffs, or around riverbanks. They also use human sites such as barn lofts, abandoned buildings, and church steeples.
Sometimes if the weather is warm, Barn Owls will lay eggs two or three times a year averaging four to six eggs each time. The parents continue to feed their young at the nest until they are about 12-13 weeks old. Barn Owls only survive two to three years at most which is a shorter life span than most owls. Pairs of Barn Owls stay together as long as they are both alive.
These low flying owls prefer grasslands, fields, marshlands, and sometimes arid habitats. Their main source of food is small rodents and they hunt at night. Barn Owls have excellent low-light vision and an intense hearing ability. One of their ears is higher than the other, so the owl can tell how far off-center a sound is from where its facing. This unique trait is called triangulation and it allows the owl to hunt without moonlight or when prey is hidden by bushes or leaves.
The Barn Owl population is in great decline because of the loss of open fields they use as a hunting territory. Also, the chemical residue of pesticides make their eggshells thinner. The biggest problem, however, is the fact that they are losing their nesting sites due to an increase in the human population and construction.
Source: The Raptor Center at Auburn University
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