Barn Owl

tyto alba

Barn owls are among the most widespread of land birds, living on all continents except Antarctica. One of the reasons for this success is the adaptations they have for survival. When hunting, they primarily use their hearing to locate prey, allowing them to hunt at night when much of their prey moves around freely; and also to locate prey under long grass and even snow. Owls can fly slowly and very quietly indeed; in fact barn owls are probably the quietest birds in flight, affording them the element of surprise.

 

However, in the UK barn owls have been on the decline for many years. The two main reasons for this decline is a lack of habitat and the number of roads we now have in the UK. Using their hearing to locate prey, they fly slowly, very close to the ground in a grid pattern. This slow and low movement means that many barn owls find themselves literally caught in the headlights and are hit by vehicles.

 

Their habitat is naturally rough grassland, usually on the edge of a wood where they will often nest in a tree hollow along the tree line. They are not however woodland birds.