La barn owlThese albums) es an aerial animal. There are about 30 species of owls in Europe, Africa, Asia, and parts of Australia and America. All species are similar in characteristics but differ greatly in size and color.

Close-up of a Barn Owl

Close-up of a Barn Owl

Features

Barn owls are 25 - 40 cm tall and as adults they can have a wingspan of up to 110 cm in length. However, the wingspan can vary between owls, being shorter or longer. Adults weigh, on average, about 350 g and there is no sexual dimorphism between the sexes.

It is known for its characteristic heart-shaped face and white underparts, although it can vary in subspecies. On the tarsus (part of the "foot") it is feathered and its toes are also covered by grayish feathers.

It has great night vision thanks to its large eyes, accompanied by very precise hearing thanks to its ears being placed one higher than the other. She is able to use one to hear sounds coming from the ground and the other to hear sounds coming from the air.

Its flight is shaky and silent thanks to the fact that its wings have tiny ridges on the edges and a hairy fringe that interrupts the flow of air. Prefers to hunt along forest edges or in rough grass strips adjacent to pastures.

Behavior

They are nocturnal animals, they rest during the day and begin to move in the evening to prepare for a night of hunting. At night they do not use the characteristic sounds of owls but they do imitate a high pitched sound and are capable of hissing in a similar way to a cat or a snake when threatened. You may also resort to lying on the ground or crouching with outstretched wings as a method of defense.

They are not very territorial birds but they move in an area of ​​a radius of around 1km, where they feed and nest. The area of ​​the females is similar to that of their partners. Outside the breeding season, males and females rest separately, which have three preferred sites where they sneak during the day and visit for short periods at night.

Preferred resting places are holes in trees, fissures in cliffs, disused buildings, chimneys and birdhouses and are often small compared to nesting sites. When the mating season comes, they come together again in the nesting area.

Barn owl in flight

Barn owl in flight

Habitat

It is a bird of open range, preferring farmland or grassland, with interspersed forests, usually at altitudes below 2.000 meters, but sometimes up to 3.000 meters in the tropics.

Distribution

This bird is distributed throughout Europe (except in Fennoscandia and Malta) and in most of Africa, except the Sahara desert.

Food

The barn owl are carnivorous animals and they hunt small mammals such as mice, capanoles, and rats. They also hunt fish if they are near water or small birds in the treetops, even while flying. They do not chop their food, they swallow the food completely and then regurgitate the indigestible parts, such as bones, in the form of a small pellet.

Predators

The barn owl has other birds as predators, such as the eagle owl (Bubo bubo). In Africa, its main predators are the eagle owl (Bubo bubo) and milky owl (Bubo lacteus). In Europe, the predator is the nxor gathering (Accipiter) and busardo ratonero (Buteo buteo) among other birds like Guatemalan tawny owl (Strix fulvescens) and real eagle (Aquila chrysaetos).

Reproduction

The female common suckling lays up to seven eggs during the warm months of the first, although they can brood throughout the year. They do not make the nest so it takes advantage of structures already created, usually by man, such as bell towers, attics, barns or ruined areas. Occasionally, and outside these habitats, they prefer open forests, nesting in tree holes.

The eggs usually hatch after a month. The male helps feed the whole family and will do so for twelve weeks, when they begin to fly and stop being dependent.

State of conservation

The owl is not considered endangered. However, owl populations are declining due to problems with pollution, loss of habitat and are beginning to have problems finding food and reproducing in certain regions. Although in the UK it has been reported that some populations are increasing again.

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