Tyto albq - The Barn Owl

The Barn Owl is one of the most successful and widespread predators on earth being found across the globe, and in almost all habitats. A medium sized, pale coloured owl with whitish underparts. The bill is short and deep, with a sharply hooked tip. The eyes are brown, bill whitish or pale pink and the feet are pinkish, legs are feathered with buff-coloured feathers.

Did you know? Barn owls do not hoot, instead emitting a long, eerie screech. They also hiss, snore and yap.

The upper parts are tawny-brown and pale grey, with white spots. The face and underparts are white, with small brown spots on the breast and belle. It has an obvious face-mask, which is whitish and heart shaped. The dark eyes stand out prominently on the pale face.


Range Weight: 430 to 620 gms.
Range Length: 32 to 40 cm.
Range Wingspan: 107 to 110 cm.


Barn Owls occupy a vast range of habitats from rural to urban. Generally found at low elevations in open habitats, such as grasslands, deserts, marshes and agricultural fields, and near human habitation which provides nesting and roosting sites. They are considered an asset to the farmer as they keep rodent populations in check.


The Barn Owl is one of the most successful and widespread predators on earth, being found across the globe, and in almost all habitats. In South Africa you can see them in nature reserves and parks and they are also seen at wine estates in Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and the surrounding Cape Winelands as well as further inland throughout the country.

To spot one of these raptors inland visit Kloofendal Nature Reserve (in the West Rand of Johannesburg), Vaalkop Dam Nature Reserve near Sun City, Chelmsford Nature Reserve in Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal, or Blouberg Nature Reserve, near Louis Trichardt in the Soutpansberg of Limpopo.


They feed on small rodents including voles and mice as well as frogs and insects.


Barn Owls are monogamous usually mating for life. However, there are reports of males occasionally having more than one partner. Barn Owls usually occurs in pairs and spends the day roosting in hidden cavities including old buildings, nest or natural cavities in trees and rocks.


Barn owls do not hoot - they let ut a long, eerie screech as well as hissing, snoring and yapping sounds.


The Barn Owl breeds mainly from August to September in the Western Cape and March to May elsewhere in the country. Breeding is timed to coincide with the best season for hunting when the chicks are being cared for. It does not build a nest but simply lays the eggs on a suitable depression.


Incubation lasts about 32 to 34 days and young fledge at 50 to 70 days.

Life Expectancy

From as short as 1 year to as long as 30 years. The average lifespan in the wild is 20 months.


Adults have few predators but nestlings are taken by snakes. Adults may be preyed on by eagles, kites, buzzards, peregrine falcons, lanners and other large birds of prey.


Animal Diversity Web; Arkive.

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Barn Owl
Kruger Park's Big 6 Birds
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