Barn Owl Tyto alba

  • © Kester Clarke

Creamy white below, cinnamon above and with a heart-shaped face, the Barn Owl is a familiar bird throughout much of the world. A medium-sized owl (41 cm length), it takes prey such as mice, rats, and a variety of other birds, as well as insects, reptiles and amphibians. As with most owls, males are smaller than females. Between twenty and thirty subspecies varying slightly in color and body proportions have been recognized across this owl’s vast range. Although absent from much of the Arctic and the Far East, the Barn Owl breeds on many islands and all the continents except Antarctica. Barn Owls nest in all manners of cavities, both natural and artificial. They are easily attracted with nest boxes—which has increased their numbers in areas where nest sites are scarce. Indeed, in areas where rodents are a nuisance, providing nest boxes for Barn Owls has proven to be an inexpensive and poison-free method for controlling rats. Barn Owls usually lay a clutch of 3-7 eggs but when food is plentiful, the female may lay a dozen or more.

Help complete this species

There are many ways to contribute—we need species information, photographs, audio, video, translations, maps, distribution data, and bird sightings. There's a role for everyone!

Learn more

© Gerrit Vyn

  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

Barn Owl (Tyto alba), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: