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Facts about Barn Owls with David Ramsden MBE, Head of Conservation, The Barn Owl Trust UK

How much do you know about Barn Owls?



20 Q & A's

1. What is a barn owl?

A barn owl (Tyto alba) is a species of owl known for its distinctive heart-shaped facial disk and pale plumage.


2. Where do barn owls live?

Barn owls are found on every continent except Antarctica. They often inhabit grasslands, farmlands and urban areas.


3. What do barn owls eat?

Barn owls primarily feed on small mammals like mice, voles, shrews, and rats. They are nocturnal hunters.


4. How do barn owls hunt?

Barn owls use their excellent hearing to locate prey in the dark. They fly silently and swoop down to catch their prey with their sharp talons.

5. What is the lifespan of a barn owl?

In the wild, barn owls typically live for about 2 to 5 years. However, in captivity, they can live up to 20 years.


6. Are barn owls endangered?

Barn owls are considered endangered in Ireland and they are on the Red List.

7. What is the breeding season for barn owls?

Breeding season for barn owls varies depending on location, but it often occurs from late winter to early summer.


8. How many eggs do barn owls usually lay?

Barn owls typically lay 4 to 7 eggs in a clutch, but the number can vary based on factors like food availability.


9. Do barn owls mate for life?

It is believed that Barn Owls mate for life unless one dies.


10. How do barn owls communicate?

Barn owls use a variety of vocalizations, including screeches, hisses, and calls, to communicate with each other.


11. What predators do barn owls have?

Barn owls may face predation from larger birds of prey, such as eagles and hawks, as well as mammals like foxes and pine martens.


12. Are barn owls solitary animals?

Barn owls are typically solitary hunters, but they may form small colonies in areas with abundant food and suitable nesting sites.


13. Do barn owls migrate?

Barn owls are generally sedentary birds, meaning they do not migrate long distances. However, some individuals may undertake short-distance movements in search of food or nesting sites.


14. What is the role of barn owls in controlling pests?

Barn owls are important predators of rodents and other small mammals, helping to control their populations and reduce agricultural damage.


15. How do barn owls' feathers help them fly silently?

Barn owls have specialized feathers with fringes that break up turbulence, allowing them to fly silently and stealthily while hunting.


16. Are barn owls territorial?

It is believed that Barn Owls are not territorial but hold a home range along as food is not scarce.

17.How do barn owls protect themselves from predators?

Barn owls rely on their camouflage, silent flight, and secluded nesting sites to avoid detection by predators.

18. Can barn owls see in the dark?

While barn owls cannot see in complete darkness, they have exceptional night vision due to their large eyes and high concentration of rod cells in their retinas.


19. How do barn owls swallow their prey whole?

Barn owls lack teeth for chewing, so they swallow their prey whole. They later regurgitate indigestible parts, such as bones and fur, in the form of pellets.


20. Are barn owls protected by law?

In Ireland, barn owls are protected under the Wildlife Acts, specifically the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000. This legislation prohibits the disturbance, destruction, or killing of barn owls and their nests, eggs, or young without a valid license from the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). The law aims to conserve and protect barn owl populations, recognising their importance in maintaining ecological balance and controlling rodent populations. Anyone found in violation of these protections may face legal consequences, including fines or imprisonment. Additionally, habitat conservation efforts are often encouraged to support barn owl populations in Ireland.

The Barn Owl Hunting

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