Hey guys, welcome back. Today is our second owl species, and one that is fairly well known, but not often seen. The barn owl is widespread, being found in nearly every one of the 48 contiguous US states. Although widespread, they aren’t super common, and are declining in population throughout parts of their range due to habitat loss. These lanky owls are a ghostly white below and a buffy brown above. While most of us think of owls as hooting, the barn owl lets out a horrific scream. Seriously, go look it up.
Barn owls are strictly nocturnal and are almost never seen awake during the day. Their name comes from their propensity for roosting in old barns and other structures. Like most owls, they have excellent night vision and hearing, but it is believed the barn owl has the best hearing of any animal tested. They have the ability of hunting and catching prey on sound alone, even if that prey is hidden underneath something, such as snow. Owls also have unique feathers that break up the air as they fly to make their flight completely silent.
My first barn owl was one that showed up in a relatively busy area of Central Park in spring of 2018. It roosted in the same tree for nearly a week before presumably moving on. My second came last year when one showed up at the Cleveland Lakefront Reservation, bringing many birders down for a look. Barn owls are often confused with barred owls because their names sound so similar, but the two look nothing alike, and are actually in different families. Barred owls are much more common. Barn owls eat primarily small mammals, but will occasionally eat other birds. While roosting during the day, barn owls can be very difficult to see as they are usually tucked up against the trunk of a tree, and don’t move for hours at a time. Next tup, another sparrow, but this one looks much different than your typical one. See you then!