COMMON NAME: Barn Owl
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Tyto alba
Barn Owls are in a different group of owls than all others in North America, belonging to the Tytonidae family instead of the Strigidae family. The differences can be seen in their heart-shaped face, square tail, small eyes and long legs, which are feathered to the toes. Another distinctive feature is their ear placement. They are assymetric so they can more easily triangulate the position of their prey. One ear is level with the forehead and the other is level with the nostril. This makes them the most accurate bird at locating prey by sound.
Barn owls’ upper sides are colored light brown and their undersides are white. Females are darker and color and also larger, ranging up to 20″ in length. Males are 14-16″ in length.
Barn owls have a relatively short life span of only two years. Mating season usually spans from late March to early April. Pairs will nest in a secluded area, such as a barn loft, tree cavity, bird box, or cave. There the female will lay 4-7 white eggs, which will hatch in about 32 days. Young fledge at 52-56 days.
Barn owls are very common throughout California, even within cities. They prefer dense trees, however, close to the trunks of evergreen, palm, eucalyptus, or cottonwood trees.
Barn owls feed mainly on rats, mice and other small rodents. Generally active at night, their low-light vision, accurate hearing and silent flight make them excellent hunters.
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