Barn Owl

The most distinctive feature of the barn owl is its heart shaped face. They have a white face with a brown outline and brown marks in front of the eyes. Barn owls are generally a gray color on their dorsal surface with fine, dark lines scatter over the wings and back. The ventral surface is usually white with a few black spots. There is usually a sparse feather covering on the legs. Barn owls do not rely on sight to hunt.

They are nocturnal and use very sensitive hearing and near silent flight to detect and sneak up on prey. The wing feathers of a barn owl are very soft and arranged so that they muffle the sound of the owls wingbeats. The ears of a barn owl are set at slightly different levels on their head and are surrounded by a rigid membrane that helps collect sound. This give the barn owl very sensitive, directional hearing and enables it to track prey even in total darkness.

Food

Barn owls generally hunt small rodents. The pratincola subspecies primarily feeds on the field mouse. However, they will also eat baby rabbits, bats, frogs, lizards, birds and insects.

Habitat

This subspecies of barn owl is found in North and Central America. They are generally associate with open grassland or woodland and are usually not found in heavily forested areas. They get their name from a tendency to use barn lofts as nesting places but will also use trees, foliage or even caves.

Social Structure

Barn owls are usually found singly or at most in a pair of birds. These pairs are usually mated animals since barn owls usually mate for life. Some of the more northern species of barn owl will fly south for the winter but most species do not. Barn owls are territorial birds. When intruded upon a barn owl will spread its wings and accompany this threat display with hissing. If this does not drive off the intruder the the barn owl will fall on its back and strike out with its feet.

Birth & Offspring

Young barn owls are brooded by their mother for about two weeks. They are fully fledged by around 55 days after hatching and a week later will disperse to fend for themselves. Barn owl populations will surge in response to an overabundance of rodents.

Senses

Barn owls have extremely good hearing.

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