Barn Owls

Introduction

UK Population Figure: Estimated at around 4 to 6000 pairs in the wild

Plumage: The plumage covering the head, back & outer wings are of a rich apricot colour; scattered with silvery blue mottling & the frontal area & under parts of the wings are of pure white, eyes are black & surrounded by a distinctive white facial disk that is heart-shaped.

Female Markings: Distinctive black speckling on frontal area under wing parts & a distinctive dark pencilled line around the facial disc together with an apricot coloured necklace.

Male Markings: Under parts & facial disc are of pure white.

Hearing Capabilities: Barn Owls mainly hunt by sound rather than by sight. With its acute hearing the Barn Owl can detect the slightest movement & sound of its prey. The ears are set asymmetrically, meaning one ear is higher than the other. The ears are located under the feathering of the inside edge of the facial disc, located next to the eyes. The facial disc acts as an amazing sound funnel, collecting & filtering sound. This allows the Owl to detect the movement of its prey with complete accuracy. 

It is said that a Barn Owl can actually hear a mouse’s heartbeat in a 30ft sq room.

Diet: The main diet for the Barn Owl is the short-tailed Vole; other rodents include shrews, wood mice & young rats.

Favoured Nest & Roost Sites: Old barns, tree hollows and nest boxes.

Barn Owl Pellets: An Owl pellet taken apart carefully will tell you everything about the type of prey it has been feeding on.

A Barn Owl pellet consists of the remains of small mammals, these remains are the skeleton parts that are tightly wrapped in condensed mammal fur. Due to the low acid content within the Owls stomach these are items an Owl cannot fully digest.

Pellets are formed within the Owls stomach & then regurgitated or coughed up out of the beak, this usually takes place whilst sat at its favourite roosting perch.

If food is plentiful, a Barn Owl can regurgitate at two separate intervals, two pellets per day.

Good Habitat: Open countryside that contains a good mixture of the following:

Rough Grasslands, marshland, scrubland, young tree plantations, hedgerows, edge of woodland & field margins left alongside hedgerows.

Food: The main food intake is the short-tailed Vole, other small rodents include shrews, wood mice and young rats.

Do Barn Owls mate for life? YES if the environment doesn’t pose a threat.

Favoured Nest & Roost Sites: Old barns, tree hollows and nest boxes.

Breeding Season: Around March or April. This can be delayed if the weather conditions are bad. Eggs are white & oval shaped. The clutch size can average from 4 to 6 depending on habitat, the largest clutch size ever recorded is 12. Incubation time is approximately 33 days. Barn Owls can have up to 2 broods per year if the habitat and weather conditions are in their favour. The Young Owlets will fledge at around 50 days & disperse to further territories.

It is sad to say that the majority of young Owls will sadly perish within their first year

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