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BARN OWL FACTS


Order: Strigformes
Family: Tytoninae
Subfamily: Tytonina
Genus: Tyto
Latin name: Tyto alba
Length: 13 - 14 inches (33 - 36 cm)
Description: Golden, buff back and wings with discreet grey and white flecking; white face set in heart-shaped facial disc and white underparts. Dark eyes.
Vocal emission: Hissing, shrieking
Habitat: Farmland, stackyards, pasture, meadows, field margins, hedgerows, uncultivated land and rough grazing.
Nesting: No nest material; lofts, wall holes, church towers, tree holes, occasionally cliffs and old quarries.
Eggs: Average 4 - 7, April and May, white, incubated by female, 30-33 days. Nestlings fed by both parents, fly by about 9-10 weeks.
Food: Mice, voles, shrews and rats, small birds, occasionally beetles and frogs.
Some British names: White Hoolet, Silver Owl, Screech Owl, Jenny Howlet, Cailleachoidhche Gheal (Gaelic) meaning white old woman of the night, Pudge, Hoolet, Oolet, Ullat, Gillhowlet, Gil-hooter.

************* Owls by Keith Graham Photographs by Neil McIntyre (fence), Laurie Campbell (flight), Andy Rouse (landing) Most attractive Continental race perceptibly darker Britain, paler race perceived as ghostly figure floating thru trees Buoyant flight often undulating with eyes trained on the ground below, frequently will pirouette before stooping, plunging feet first into the vegetation to seize it's prey, wings helf aloft. Barn owls' eyes not quite as large and prominent as those of other British owls but no doubt that it can see extremely well evven in the poorest light. Favour lowland farmlands, most commonly seen at dusk or dawn. Incubation is the prerogative of the hen bird although the cock is seldom far away and for long hours will roost beside his brooding mate. Incubation lasts for just over a month. Tens weeks for fledging and leaving the nest. Long established fact - farmers' ally, destroyer of farmyard pests Threats to barn owls 1. Consumption of farmyard rodents feeding on chemically-treated farm produce led to toxic materials building up in the owls, resulting in inability to bredd and ultimately causing deaths. Improved storage of grains and use of rodent poisons depleted no. of mice and rats in farmyards, while poisons have entered the food chain. 2. Favoured hunting grounds such as meadows and rough pastures being cultivated and turned into productive agricultural land with the help of improved technology. Widely distributed across globe but decline most marked in Europe.