California Raptor Center

Barn Owl

Scientific Name: Tyto alba
(Tyto is Greek for owl, alba is Latin meaning ‘white’).

Size: Length: 14-21in Wingspan: 41-47in

Weight: Female: 382-580g (~0.84-1.3lb) Male: 299-580g (~0.66-1.3lb)

Lifespan: Average life span of 1-2 years in the wild. Short life span may be linked to the tendency of young birds to use the headlights of cars to hunt. Captive Barn Owls may live more than 20 years.

ID: This bird has a very distinct appearance and does not closely resemble other species of owls. Well known for its ghost like appearances in both rural and city skies worldwide. Large head, heart shaped facial disc, white face, elongated beak, long legs and light coloration. The back of the owl ranges from a tawny to gray coloration, while the underside tends to be lighter consisting of a white to cinnamon coloration. Females of this species tend to be darker in coloration than the males. There is no plumage difference between juveniles and adults.

Hunting: Barn Owls require open grasslands and agricultural fields with healthy rodent populations for hunting.

Prey: More the 95% of the diet of this species consists of rodents. In fact, their reputation as great mousers has made them a welcome resident in many human structures, which offer the owl a cavity in which to nest and roost.

Breeding: No specific breeding season and are capable of breeding year round. Clutch size ranges from 3 to 11 eggs, which are incubated by both the male and female. Incubation time for the eggs is 30-34 days. Once hatched these birds will grow from the size of a quarter to adult size in 5 weeks. They will not fledge for another 17 to 21 days.

Range: Non-migratory. The range of this owl is best described by where it is not found; such as, Antarctica, high altitudes, heavily forested areas and New Zealand.

Status: Barn Owls are classified as endangered in several Midwestern States, but are considered common in California.

Point of Interest: Barn Owls have silent flight due to the softened edges on their flight feathers.