OPEN 365 DAYS A YEAR & FREE

Location, Hours & Directions

OPEN 365 DAYS A YEAR & FREE

Location, Hours & Directions

Barn Owl Fact Sheet

  • Latin Name

    Tyto alba
  • Class

    Birds
  • Order

    Strigiformes
  • Range

    Worldwide. Barn owls can be found in North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia.

  • Status

    Common worldwide, the barn owl is classified as endangered in Illinois due to the loss of food supply and nesting sites as the result of agriculture.

  • Habitat

    Plains, deserts, forests, farms and cities.

  • Niche

    The barn owl prefers small rodents, but it will occasionally hunt birds as well. A nocturnal species, it hunts at night by using its sharp eyesight and extremely sensitive hearing to locate prey.

  • Life History

    The barn owl's name comes from its habit of nesting in abandoned building. The bird nests in tree hollows as well, where the female lays four–seven eggs. The male brings food to the nest as the female incubates the eggs and cares for chicks.

  • Special Adaptations

    • The feathers the barn owl uses to fly are serrated at their tips. This muffles the noise the bird makes when it flaps its wings, enabling it to sneak up on prey quietly.
    • The barn owl's sense of hearing is so acute that it can even locate mammals under heavy vegetation or snow. The bird's ears are placed asymmetrically on its head, enabling it to use the differences between each ear's perception of sound to home in on prey.
    • The barn owl's reddish-brown coloration blends in well with trees. This camouflage helps keep the bird from being discovered during the day.
    • The species' strong talons and sharp beak enable it to firmly grasp and tear the mammals and small birds it catches.

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2001 North Clark Street • Chicago, IL 60614 • 312-742-2000

2001 North Clark Street • Chicago, IL 60614 Get Map/Directions Call 312-742-2000

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