Barn Owl Facts


The Barn Owl is the go-to image when you picture an owl - with its mottled silver-grey and buff back, white face, and black eyes. Hardly surprising when you consider it is the most widespread owl and indeed one of the most widespread birds in the world.

Perhaps our most familiar owl, the Barn Owl will sometimes hunt in the daytime and can be seen 'quartering' over farmland and grassland looking for its next small-mammal meal. However, it is perfectly adapted to hunt with deadly precision in the dark of night. Its stealthy and silent flight is made possible by a fringe of special sound absorbing feathers. Its wings are comparatively large allowing for slow flight and its legs and talons long for efficient hunting. The heart-shaped face directs high-frequency sounds to its off-set ears enabling it to find mice and voles in the vegetation.  At roughly twice as light sensitive as human’s, its eyes are highly movement aware. These factors taken together turn the Barn Owl into a vole catching machine!

Barn Owls mate for life and will breed from April to August, and a second brood may be reared when food sources are high. A breeding pair will use the same nest site year after year if undisturbed. The female lays four to seven white eggs in an unlined hole of a tree or barn. They will nest in good owl boxes that are a sufficient size, in a good habitat location and draught-free. 


Length: 33-39cm 
Wingspan: 80-95cm 
Weight: 250-350g 
Average lifespan: 4 years

Conservation status

Schedule One Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.