Article courtesy of Garden Gate Magazine
If you’ve been out at dusk you may have noticed the ghostly figure of a barn owl swooping by. This beautiful bird is one of the most common owls in the world.
What does a barn owl look like?
A barn owl has feathers of tan, brown and rust on the back with a white chest that’s speckled black. The female has more spots than the male. She’s also slightly taller at 13 to 15 in., and a bit heavier, weighing just over a pound. They both have heart-shaped white faces with dark eyes that are smaller than those of other owls. You won’t hear the classic “hoo” coming from this owl. Its typical call is more like a hiss or screech. See also How to Watch Snowy Owls Responsibly
Where do barn owls live?
Look in old barns, abandoned buildings or hollow trees and you might find a barn owl or two. It doesn’t mind living near people but you may not even know it’s there. Hunting by night, this stealthy bird has such excellent hearing that it can even find prey that’s completely hidden under snow or tall grass. Voles, mice, shrews, moles, rats and other small mammals make up a big part of the barn owl’s diet. It’ll also eat reptiles and large insects.
Though barn owls are common, their numbers have been decreasing, especially in the Midwest, probably due to the loss of nesting sites and habitat. You can help encourage barn owls by buying or building a nest box.