Rosamond Gifford Zoo

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Dragon Sensory Hours: The dragons will be asleep from 2 to 4:30 p.m. daily.

Common Barn Owl

Tyto alba

Common Barn owls have heart shaped facial discs, dark eyes and no ear tufts. Its round facial disc traps and isolates sound so they know exactly where to dive for their prey.

Range & Habitat

Temperate and tropical regions on all continents except Antarctica. In order for a barn owl to settle in an area, it needs a cavity to nest in, which can include barns, hollow trees, dug out cliff sides and church steeples. Man-made nest boxes are also commonly used by barn owls. 

Conservation Status: Least Concern

While the overall population appears to be stable, it has rapidly declined in some areas. Barn owls are considered Endangered in the Midwest U.S. states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri and Indiana and of Special Concern in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, North and South Dakota, Montana, Nebraska and Minnesota.


In the Wild: young rabbits, fish, voles, shrews, rats, mice, small reptiles, amphibians and small birds

At the Zoo: chicks and rodents

Life Span

In the Wild – 10 years
In Human Care - 20 years

Fun Facts about the Common Barn Owl

  •  Barn-owls are arboreal, spending most of their time in trees.

  •  When hunting in darkness, they rely on their hearing.  Their downy feathers help them approach their prey practically undetected.

  •  Barn-owls eat their prey whole, then regurgitate what they cannot digest, such as fur, feathers and bones, as pellets. You can dissect the pellets and piece together the skeleton of the last animal eaten!

  •  They are usually sedentary, which means they stay in one area most of their lives.  Very few Barn owls migrate.

  •  Barn owls are being embraced by farmers worldwide as a great natural means of pest control in their barns and among grain crops. While they are losing habitat, farmers are seeking to provide nesting areas to keep them around as an alternative to pesticides for rodent control.


Audubon Field Guide to North American Birds: Barn Owl

Cornell Lab of Ornithology Website: Retrieved December 22, 2020.

EcoFarming Daily: Barn Owls for Pest Control.


Updated June 13, 2023
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