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Meet the Model – Barney the Barn Owl

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.



Length 33-39cm

Wing span 80-95cm

Weight 250-350g



© All photography and words , Graham Stewart 2018

8 replies »

  1. Wonderful photos! Years ago we found an injured barn owl at the end of our drive. We bundled him up in a towel and my heart melted as we drove to the vets. Sadly he had run into a live power line, was fatally injured under his wing and had to be put down. Such beautiful birds..


  2. Beautifully photographed! Barn owls are common where I live, however I do not believe I’ve ever seen one up close, or if I have, its coloring was not as light as this one. How nice that after seeing your post I can now picture that beautiful heart-shaped face.

    Barred owls are also common here, and growing up I always thought that people were calling them barn owls. So when I picture them in my mind, barn owls actually like barred owls. Time to retrain my memory!


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