BARN OWL - Tyto Alba Alba

The Barn Owl is widely distributed across Great Britain. The barn owl is nocturnal but it also hunts by day. Barn owls specialise in hunting animals on the ground and nearly all of their food consists of small mammals which they locate by sound, their hearing being very acute. They mate for life unless one of the pair gets killed, when a new pair bond may be formed. Breeding takes place at varying times of year according to locality, with a clutch, averaging about four to five eggs, being laid in a nest in a hollow tree, old building or fissure in a cliff.

The female does all the incubation, and she and the young chicks are reliant on the male for food. When large numbers of small prey are readily available, barn owl populations can expand rapidly. This means populations will fluctuate but overall a gradual decline is being seen in the UK.

On average within any one population, males tend to have fewer spots on the underside and are paler in colour than females. The latter are also larger with a strong female T. alba of a large subspecies weighing over 550 g (19.4 oz), while males are typically about 10% lighter. Nestling are covered in white down, but the heart-shaped facial disk becomes visible soon after hatching.

Contrary to popular belief, the barn owl does not hoot . It instead produces the characteristic shree scream, ear-shattering at close range, an eerie, long-drawn-out shriek. Males in courtship give a shrill twitter. Both young and old can hiss like a snake to scare away intruders. Other sounds produced include a purring chirrup denoting pleasure, and a "kee-yak", which resembles one of the vocalisations of the tawny owl. When captured or cornered, the barn owl throws itself on its back and flails with sharp-taloned feet, making for an effective defence. In such situations it may emit rasping sounds or clicking snaps, produced probably by the bill but possibly by the tongue.

Source: Wikipedia

Species Habitat Protection Group is part of the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) Nest Recording Scheme. The BTO have published a nationwide overview of Barn Owl Nesting for 2014 together with a prediction for 2015.