Juvenile Barn Owl in flight
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The Barn Owl – With heart-shaped face, buff back and wings and pure white underparts.
The barn owl is a medium-sized, pale-coloured owl with long wings and a short, squarish tail. There is considerable size variation across the subspecies with a typical specimen measuring about 33 to 39 cm (13 to 15 in) in overall lengt. Barn owls have a typical wingspan of some 80 to 95 cm (31 to 37 in).
The barn owl is a distinctive and much-loved countryside bird.
Widely distributed across the UK, and indeed the world, also referred to as the common barn owl. The Tytonidae, which forms one of the two main lineages of living owls, and the other being the typical owls (Strigidae).
Barn owls have suffered declines through the 20th century. It is thought to have been adversely affected by organochlorine pesticides such as DDT in the 1950s and ’60s.
Due to barns owls being mainly nocturnal birds they are poorly monitored by the Breeding Bird Survey. Because of this, numbers may have increased between 1995-2008.
The barn owl is nocturnal over most of its range, but in Britain and some Pacific islands, it also hunts by day. A specialist in hunting animals on the ground.
Nearly all of their food consists of small mammals which they locate by sound, their hearing being very acute. They mate for life unless one of the pair gets killed, when a new pair bond may be formed. Breeding takes place at varying times of year according to locality, with a clutch, averaging about four eggs, being laid in a nest in a hollow tree, old building or fissure in a cliff. The female does all the incubation, and she and the young chicks are reliant on the male for food.