Meet the model – Barney the Barn Owl – Tito Alba
By Graham Stewart
With its heart shaped face the Barn Owl is probably the most popular owl in the UK. It is also one of the most widely distributed of owls throughout the world although its colouration does vary. The Barn Owls call is a far less attractive screech not the Twit Twoo sound which is actually a Tawny Owl.
The Barn Owls diet consists mainly of Mice, Shrews, Rats, Voles and small birds. The Barn Owl will generally hunt at night where its exceptional hearing is used to great effect. During the breeding season it can also be seen during the day due to the increased need for food. Prey is swallowed whole and then all the indigestible parts are regurgitated is smooth pellets.
As its name suggests it will normally be found in old barns or holes in trees.
The Barn Owl will generally mate for life although the male has been known to have 2 wives. Size of the clutch will depend on the amount of available food and can be between 4-7 eggs which are laid a few days apart. Eggs will hatch after 30 days. Hatching eggs in this way means that the first born is far more likely to survive than its siblings.
The population suffered terribly during the 50’s & 60’s due to the use of pesticides such as DDT. Numbers have steadily recovered and it is estimated there are some 4000 breeding pairs in the UK. Long periods of snow are also bad for the Barn Owl as the lack of available food will cause many to starve. Due to increased intensity of farming lack of habitat (old barns / farm buildings) is also an issue.
Wing span 80-95cm
© All photography and words , Graham Stewart 2018