Feeding baby barn owls

How to Take care of a Baby Owl - Video Guide Include

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Owls are nocturnal, carnivorous birds of prey located throughout the world. They are said to be opportunistic predators because they adjust their daily food intake to accommodate the most convenient source of sustenance. As a result, these birds are able to eat a wide variety of foods. Because the birds prefer live prey and require a continual source of food for the first few months of their lives, feeding a young owl can be a difficult task. This guide will familiarise you with how to take care of a baby owl.

We’ll still recommend that you don’t undertake the task of taking care of an owl that you found outside of its nest. Don’t get too enthusiastic with catchy YouTube titles like “how to rescue an owl” that may feature a baby owl outside its nest. It doesn’t necessarily mean that its parents abandoned it. Instead, they naturally grow curious and explore around as they get closer to acquiring the ability to fly. The following video shows an owl climbing back into its nest.

However, this depends highly on the species. For example, in the case of barn owls, owlets (A baby owl is called an owlet) on the ground will usually be ignored and will almost certainly die if they cannot climb back up to the nest on their own.

So it’s best if you seek expert advice regarding taking care of an owlet. In this guide, we’ll explain everything that entails taking care of an owl as vividly as possible, so you are, at least, informed.

Table of Content

  • Different Types of Owls
  • Types of Conservation Status
    • The Red List
    • The Amber List
    • The Green list
  • Tawny or Brown Owl
  • Little Owl
  • Barn Owl
  • Long-eared Owl
  • Short-eared Owl
  • Eurasian Eagle Owl
  • Is It Legal to Own an Owl in the UK?
  • How to Take Care of a Baby Owl?
  • What to Feed a Baby Barn Owl?
    • Before Feeding
    • Preparation
    • Typical Diet of an Owl
  • Video Guide
    • Take First-Aid Courses
  • Do Owls Bond With Humans?
  • Conclusion

Different Types of Owls

There are more than 225 different species of owls in the world. Check articles like this one from The Spruce if you need to take a quick look at all of them. But here, we’re only going to talk about the ones found in the UK.

There are currently six different types of owls identified as resident species in the UK. These are:

  1. Tawny or brown owl
  2. Little owl
  3. Barn owl
  4. Long-eared owl
  5. Short-eared owl
  6. Eurasian eagle owl

Let’s give you a short introduction to all of them. However, note that you’ll also be given a “conservation status” of the owl which basically tells you if the species is marked as endangered or not. In the UK, there are three different types of conservation statuses.

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Types of Conservation Status
  • The Red List

The Red list represents the greatest conservation priority. It includes species that require immediate attention. Species that are globally threatened also qualify for UK’s Red list criteria as well.

  • The Amber List

The second most critical group is Amber. Birds subjected to historical population decline during 1800–1995, but recovering now make it to the Amber list. For a bird species to make it to the Amber list, its population size has to increase by more than double over the last 25 years. Otherwise, it’s still a critically endangered species, i.e. included in the Red list.

  • The Green list

The least critical group of species are those on the Green list. Basically, all the species that are not on the Red or the Amber list are Green listed.

With that said, here’s a list of owls commonly found in the UK.

Tawny or Brown Owl

Common name: Tawny or brown owl

Scientific name: Strix aluco

Conservation status: Amber

Height: 15-18 inches

Wingspan: 32-41 inches

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Little Owl

Common name: Little owl

Scientific name: Athene noctua

Conservation status: Not assessed

Height: 8½ inches

Wingspan: 22 inches

Barn Owl

Common name: Barn owl

Scientific name: Tyto alba

Conservation status: Green

Height: 13½ inches

Wingspan: 35 inches

Long-eared Owl

Common name: Long-eared owl

Scientific name: Asio otus

Conservation status: Green

Height: 15 inches

Wingspan: 39 inches

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Short-eared Owl

Common name: Short-eared owl

Scientific name: Asio flammeus

Conservation status: Amber

Height: 15 inches

Wingspan: 40 inches

Eurasian Eagle Owl

Common name: Eurasian eagle owl

Scientific name: Bubo bubo

Conservation status: Not assessed

Height: 26 inches

Wingspan: 68 inches

Is It Legal to Own an Owl in the UK?

Owls are wild animals. They aren’t your typical house cats or dogs who can easily be managed as pets. But, owing to the popularity of the Harry Potter series, people can be forgiven for thinking owls are typical house pets.

However, even though the USA strictly banned owning wild animals such as owls, the UK is a bit different story in this respect. You can keep an owl as a pet here. But you have to have a registration for owning an endangered owl species. If you want to keep other wild birds as pets, you must first determine whether you need a license and then apply for one.

For those that are not critically endangered, you have to have a legal defence for owning the bird. To quote the UK government’s website regarding wild birds,

“To prove you own it legally, you should keep a record of when and where the bird was found or taken and by whom or a receipt if you bought it.”

Legally can mean either of the following:

  • Taken under licence
  • Taken from the wild and held because it is unfit to be released 
  • After being discovered dead or killed by accident, such as roadkill

Barn owls are the most common species that are kept as pets in the UK. But it is still illegal, under The 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act, to disturb them in the wild. It is prohibited to disrupt wild barn owls when they are breeding and remove, destroy, or disturb- the nest, eggs, or the young of a nesting barn owl. A single visit to return an owlet to its nest, on the other hand, is unlikely to result in legal action.

However, the law does not mandate the registration of captive barn owls. But, they have to be captive-bred and wear a close ring in order to be sold under the legislation. This continuous metal ring can be slid on a nestling’s leg but not an adult’s. This method is to keep wild adults from being trapped and sold.

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How to Take Care of a Baby Owl?

Let me preface this section with a warning that keeping an owl as a pet is a MASSIVE investment in terms of money and time, and effort. They have very specific care needs. If you do not know what you are doing, you will almost certainly harm the owl as they are very picky animals. 

However, it is understandable if you’re reading this blog knowing what comes next, but you’re still committed. However, stumbling upon an owlet in the wild is also a possibility. In that case, you may be thinking of taking care of it for a few days before returning it to the wild. The best advice here is: don’t. The best option would be to contact trained, licensed individuals who can help you rehabilitate the owlet.

For example, finding a young barn owl somewhere near your home isn’t unusual if you are in the UK. So you may be wondering, what should I do in this case?

  • It is very important to note or find out exactly where the owlet was picked up.
  • It is not normal for young barn owls to be out of the nest before they can fly. Leaving them well alone is usually not the best thing to do.
  • Adult barn owls will typically only feed their nestlings in the nest. Owlets on the ground will usually be ignored and will almost certainly die.
  • Owlets that are too young to fly must be placed back in the nest.
  • The owlet will not be rejected by its parents because it’s been handled by humans – they have very little sense of smell.
  • Hand rearing the owlet and releasing it later is not the best thing for it.

What to Feed a Baby Barn Owl?

Before Feeding
  • Always check to see if the bird has regurgitated the pellet from the previous meal before feeding it. The pellet contains remains of food that cannot be digested, such as shells, feathers, beaks etc. Never feed the bird before it regurgitates, as the pellet may get too large or lodged in its gut. This may even result in the death of your bird.
  • Don’t feed owls meat from animals that have been shot. Owls are particularly vulnerable to lead poisoning, and swallowing shrapnel or pellets can result in death.


Before feeding the babies, prepare food for them. This chore may be a little nasty for those who are squeamish, but the newborns are unable to devour an entire animal.

  • To make it easier for the babies to swallow, tear chunks of meat into smaller pieces.
  • Many owls have a negative reaction to food species that look to be dead. If your babies refuse to eat dead mice, chicks, or amphibians, you may need to break them into tiny pieces or expose the innards so the birds may be sure the food source is safe and desirable.
  • Live insects are a good alternative too. This is because some finicky birds won’t eat other types of meat that are already dead.
  • If the owl’s stomach has a solid mass, don’t try to feed it.
  • Don’t worry about feeding it if its stomach feels empty but it has plenty of breast muscle, or if it has produced a pellet or a large watery white and/or black dropping.
  • You should feed it if its stomach is empty, it’s a little thin on the chest, and it shows no signs of having eaten recently or produces a small greenish dropping.

Typical Diet of an Owl
  • It’s okay to utilise raw poultry meat or raw lean beef in an emergency, but not lamb or pork.
  • Offer no more than two days of pure lean meat without roughage, such as fur or feathers, and never give bone without roughage.
  • Unless otherwise directed by a veterinarian, never feed cooked meat, canned pet food, or any other non-meat food.
  • Dead mice or poultry chicks, purchased frozen from pet stores and completely defrosted before usage, are great options.
  • In a 24-hour period, a typical owlet should consume 2-3 chicks that are one day old or 4-5 small mice. 
  • White mice and yellow chicks are unlikely to be recognised as food by an owlet right away, whereas grey-brown food items are more likely to be consumed.
  • Unnaturally coloured foods should be cut up and placed on a piece of wood in the box near the owlet. Half-matchbox sized pieces are ideal in this case.
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Video Guide

I’d suggest you the following excellent video on YouTube that shows an expert feeding an owlet. He also gives a few instructions on how to ensure the owl is properly restrained before feeding, so it doesn’t harm itself or the feeder in this process.

How to Rehydrate and Feed a Starving Owl

Take First-Aid Courses

Courses like “Animal Care and Pet First Aid & CPR Training” are highly valuable if you own a pet. Do not ignore them, as you’re usually the first line of defence if your pet faces an unforeseen emergency. Invest the little time it will take to complete the course, as this will give you further confidence in handling or dealing with pet animals.

Do Owls Bond With Humans?

They definitely can. But not as you may think. Owls aren’t cats or dogs who form a rather ‘social’ bond with us. This is what we typically expect from pets.

However, owls will only ‘imprint’ on you. According to Google, ‘imprint’ is-

“(of a young animal) come to recognize (another animal, person, or thing) as a parent or other object of habitual trust.”

With that said, keep the following things in mind before you plan to own an owl:

  • Because the ‘imprint’ between the ‘parent’. i.e., you and bird are never truly severed in imprinted owls. The owl may never grow out of certain immature behaviours like calling for food. This might quickly become a source of irritation.
  • Humans are often viewed as possible mates or competitors by imprinted owls. As a result, they can be pretty violent and aggressive.
  • Imprinted males can be particularly bothersome and noisy during the breeding season, which can last for the majority of the year for barn owls in captivity.


As you can see, it’s not easy explaining how to take care of a baby owl without going into the details as some of the care is species dependent. However, this guide has covered most of the common ones across species and the ones relevant to barn owls. This is because barn owls are usually the choice when people think of owning owls. Also, do remember to check out the YouTube videos linked in this guide as they will be equally valuable to you.


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What Do Barn Owls Eat? (Complete Guide)

What animals do barn owls eat?

What birds do barn owls eat?

How much does a barn owl eat per day?

How do barn owls find food?

What time of day do barn owls feed?

What do barn owls eat in the winter?

What do barn owls eat during spring and summer?

What do baby barn owls eat?

What can you feed barn owls?

What do barn owls drink?

How do I attract barn owls to my yard?

Are barn owls carnivores?

Barn Owl Diet FAQs

Barn owls, like other owl species, are excellent hunters. They possess superb hearing and eyesight that allows them to pinpoint the exact location of their prey in complete darkness. So, what do barn owls eat?

The diet of the barn owl primarily consists of rodents and other small mammals, such as bats and rabbits. They will occasionally eat birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish as well. Although, the latter are preyed upon more opportunistically rather than sought out.

Owls typically hunt smaller prey because they consume their meals whole, then regurgitate anything non-digestible in the form of a pellet. In this article, we will dive deeper into the diet and hunting specialties of the barn owl. Read on to discover more about these fascinating birds of prey!

A perched Barn Owl eating a mouse

What animals do barn owls eat?

Barn owls primarily eat small rodents, such as mice, rats, voles, moles, and lemmings. They also feed on other small mammals, including rabbits, bats, and shrews. Reptiles, amphibians, and fish are occasionally taken, but on a far less regular basis.

Because these owls are nocturnal, animals that are only active during the day (i.e. squirrels) generally do not fall prey to barn owls.

What birds do barn owls eat?

Along with mammals and the occasional fish, reptile, or amphibian, barn owls also consume small birds. Blackbirds, starlings, and meadowlarks are sometimes preyed upon by the barn owl.

Barn Owl in flight hunting for prey

How much does a barn owl eat per day?

How much a barn owl eats per day depends largely on its body weight. They typically consume at least 10% of their body weight every day. However, when food is plentiful, a barn owl may eat more than average.

How do barn owls find food?

Like other owl species, barn owls are superior hunters, possessing excellent hearing and eyesight. They use both of these senses to find food. A barn owl will either hunt from a perch or low flight. Serrated wing feathers allow the birds to glide silently over open ground, while their unparalleled hearing enables them to pinpoint prey in complete darkness.

Close up portrait of a perched Barn Owl

What time of day do barn owls feed?

Barn owls are nocturnal. They primarily hunt and feed at night. On rare occasions, such as during winter when nighttime temperatures are too cold, barn owls will hunt during the day.

What do barn owls eat in the winter?

Barn owls primarily eat small mammals and birds throughout winter. Rodents, such as mice and voles, are less accessible during this season because they are often hibernating underground or beneath deep snow.

During the winter, Barn Owls often hunt during the day

What do barn owls eat during spring and summer?

The barn owl has a varied diet of small mammals, birds, and reptiles during spring and summer. They also occasionally eat amphibians, fish, and insects. However, rodents make up the largest percentage of the barn owl's summer diet.

What do baby barn owls eat?

Baby barn owls are carnivorous like their parents. They will eat whatever meal adults bring back to the nest. Small mammals make up the majority of their diets, but nestlings will also consume fish, birds, and insects.

Barn owl feeding their chick with a mouse

What can you feed barn owls?

A barn owl’s natural diet consists primarily of rodents and other small mammals, which the birds can easily find in the wild. Feeding or baiting wild owls is not a good idea as it could prove detrimental to the bird.

Rodents such as mice and rats, particularly those bought at a pet store, have the potential to pass deadly parasites and pathogens to the owl. Rat poison is another potential hazard. If a barn owl consumes a rodent that has encountered poison, the owl will also be poisoned and likely die.

Habituating a barn owl to be comfortable around humans can also pose a great risk. If you live near busy roads, an owl is likely to get struck by a car while hunting. They may even eventually encounter a person who would harm them.

In the event you come across an injured owl, it is best to contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

Barn Owls do most of their hunting during the night

What do barn owls drink?

Barn owls rarely seek out water to drink. The birds get most of the hydration they need from the food they eat.

How do I attract barn owls to my yard?

As previously discussed, baiting or feeding a barn owl poses several risks to the owl's health. However, if an owl naturally takes up residence in or near your yard, you may have a mutually beneficial relationship.

Owls are excellent hunters. They do not need to be provided food. If left to their natural hunting routines, the owls will help manage rodent populations on your property. Just be sure you never use rat poisoning, as this could also be detrimental to the owl or any other creature hunting the rodents.

As their name suggests, barn owls often nest in abandoned barns and other structures. They also use overhangs and cavities in trees or cliffs. The owls typically nest near open areas and forest edges for access to the best hunting.

If you live on the edge of a field or agricultural area and have some sort of abandoned structure on your property, you already have the right habitat to attract a barn owl. You can also provide a nest box mounted on a tall pole or tree. Finally, you will want to keep outdoor lighting to a minimum. Owls prefer to hunt in complete darkness.

Close up of a Barn owl in flight

Are barn owls carnivores?

Barn owls are carnivores. They exclusively eat other animals, including mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, amphibians, and insects.

Barn Owl Diet FAQs

How many mice does a barn owl eat per day?

On average, a barn owl will eat three to four mice in a night. They generally consume at least 10% of their body weight every day.

Can you feed wild barn owls?

Feeding or baiting wild barn owls poses a great risk to the owl. The animals you provide may carry harmful pathogens or parasites or could have consumed poison. Habituating owls to humans is also dangerous as it could result in an owl approaching a person who may harm them.

Do barn owls hunt during the day?

Barn owls are nocturnal, meaning they are active at night. Daytime hunting only occurs on very seldom occasions. If you see an owl hunting during the day, do not be alarmed. It is not abnormal, owls simply prefer hunting at night.

Do barn owls eat cats?

Barn owls have a varied diet that primarily consists of small mammals, occasionally including cats. If you are concerned about a barn owl attacking your cat, it is best to keep it indoors at night.

Barn owl flying above the grass during a cold winter morning

Do barn owls eat snakes?

Barn owls will eat snakes, however, they are not a regular part of the owl’s diet. These owls prefer preying on mammals but will catch and eat snakes when the opportunity arises.

Do barn owls eat chickens?

Barn owls rarely eat chickens. Most poultry breeds are too large for a barn owl to kill and eat.

Do barn owls eat squirrels?

Barn owls will occasionally eat squirrels. However, squirrels are rarely preyed upon by these owls because they are diurnal, whereas owls are nocturnal - primarily active at night.

A Barn owl eating a mouse whilst perched in a tree in autumn

Do barn owls eat rabbits?

Rabbits are a fairly regular part of the barn owl diet. Although, rodents are consumed most frequently.

Do barn owls eat rats?

Barn owls regularly eat rats and other rodents, such as mice, voles, and lemmings.

Do barn owls eat fish?

Barn owls eat fish on rare occasions. They prefer rodents, other small mammals, or birds.

Do barn owls eat moles?

Barn owls regularly eat moles and other rodents, such as mice, voles, rats, and shrews.

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Barn Owl ᐈ Photo and description ✔

Barn owl is the oldest branch of the order of owls, which can be observed by the richness and diversity of fossil forms. Unusual appearance significantly distinguishes the bird from other owls. You can verify this by looking at the face of the barn owl. It can be compared with a mask, with a monkey's face, or with a heart. The bird has many nicknames that are reflected in folk art. The barn owl lives close to people and is not afraid of the neighborhood, which allows you to keep this predator in the house. nine0005

Origin and description

Photo: Barn owl

Barn owl was first described in 1769 by the Tyrolean physician and naturalist D. Scopoli. He gave the feathered name Strix alba. As more species of owls were described, the genus name Strix began to be used exclusively for tree owls typical of the Strigidae family, and the barn owl became Tyto alba. The name literally means "white owl", translated from ancient Greek. The bird is known by many common names that refer to its appearance, the sounds it makes, its habitat, or its eerie and silent flight. nine0005

Video: Barn owl

Based on DNA evidence, the barn owl (T. furcata) and the Curaçao barn owl (T. bargei) have been recognized as separate species. It has also been suggested that T. a. delicatula has been identified as a separate species known as the eastern barn owl. However, the International Ornithological Committee doubts this and states that the separation of Tyto delicatula from T. alba "may need to be reconsidered".

Some island subspecies are sometimes considered by scientists as separate species, but this should be confirmed by further observations. Mitochondrial DNA analysis demonstrates a split into two species, Old World alba and New World furcata, but this study did not include T. a. delicatula, which has also been identified as a separate species. A large amount of genetic variation has been found between the Indonesian T. stertens and other members of the order alba. nine0005

Barn owl has a wider distribution than any other species of owl. Many subspecies have been proposed over the years, but some are generally considered to be interdependent between different populations. Island forms are mostly miniature, in contrast to the mainland ones, and in forest forms, the plumage is much darker, the wings are shorter than those found in open pastures.

Appearance and features

Photo: Barn owl

The barn owl is a light-colored medium-sized owl with elongated wings and a square short tail. Subspecies have significant differences in body length with a full range from 29up to 44 cm all over. The wingspan ranges from 68 to 105 cm. The body weight of an adult also varies from 224 to 710 g.

that they are more dependent on insect prey and should be more manoeuvrable. However, the largest species of barn owl from Cuba and Jamaica is also an island representative.

The shape of the tail is the ability to distinguish a barn owl from an ordinary owl in the air. Other distinguishing features are the undulating flight pattern and the drooping, feathered legs. The pale, heart-shaped face and unblinking black eyes give the flying bird its characteristic appearance, like a flat mask with huge slanting black slits for the eyes. The head is large and rounded, without ear tufts. nine0005

Barn owls have rounded wings and a short tail covered with white or light brown down feathers. The back and head of the bird are light brown with variable black and white spots. The underside is grayish white. The appearance of these owls is very unusual. Ornithologists list 16 species, and the species Tyto alba has 35 subspecies, which are distinguished based on differences in size and coloration. On average, within the same population, males have fewer blotches below and are paler than females. The chicks are covered in white down, but the characteristic facial shape becomes visible shortly after hatching. nine0005

Where does the barn owl live?

Photo: barn owl

The barn owl is the most common land bird, spreading across all continents except Antarctica. Its range includes all of Europe (except Fennoscandia and Malta), from the south of Spain to the south of Sweden and to the east of Russia. In addition, the range occupies most of Africa, the Indian subcontinent, some Pacific islands, to which they were brought to control rodents, as well as America, Asia, and Australia. Birds are sedentary and many individuals, having settled in a certain place, remain there, even when nearby places for feeding are vacated. nine0005

Barn owl (T. alba) has a wide range. It lives in Europe, as well as in Africa, Asia, New Guinea, Australia and America, excluding the northern regions of Alaska and Canada.


  • ash-faced barn owl (T. glaucops) - endemic to Haiti;
  • Cape barn owl (T. capensis) - found in Central and South Africa;
  • Madagascar variety settled in Madagascar;
  • the area of ​​black-brown (T. nigrobrunnea) and Australian (T. novaehollandiae) covers New Guinea and part of Australia; nine0054
  • T. multipunctata - Australian endemic;
  • golden barn owl (T. aurantia) - endemic of Fr. New Britain;
  • T. manusi - about. Manus;
  • T. nigrobrunnea - about. Sula;
  • T. sororcula - about. Tanimbar;
  • Sulawesi (T. rosenbergii) and Minahasa (T. inexpectata) live in Sulawesi.

Barn owls occupy a wide range of habitats from rural to urban. They are commonly found at low elevations in open habitats such as grasslands, deserts, swamps, and agricultural fields. They require nesting sites such as hollow trees, depressions in rocks and river banks, caves, church steeples, barns, etc. The availability of appropriate nesting facilities limits the use of suitable feeding habitat. nine0005

What does the barn owl eat?

Photo: Barn owl in flight

These are nocturnal predators that prefer small mammals. Barn owls begin to hunt alone after sunset. To detect a moving target, they developed very sensitive vision in low light. However, when hunting in complete darkness, the owl relies on keen hearing to catch prey. Barn owls are the most accurate birds when searching for prey by sound. Another trait that aids in successful hunting is their fluffy feathers, which help muffle sound when moving. nine0005

An owl can approach its prey almost unnoticed. Barn owls attack their prey with low flights (1.5-5.5 meters above the ground), capture prey with their legs and beat the back of the skull with their beak. They then consume the prey whole. Barn owls prepare food supplies, especially during the breeding season.

Barn owl's basic diet consists of:

  • shrews;
  • mice;
  • voles;
  • rats;
  • hares;
  • nine0053 rabbits;
  • muskrats;
  • small birds.

Barn owl hunts by flying slowly and looking at the ground. She may use branches, fences, or other vantage points to scan the area. The bird has long wide wings, which allows it to maneuver and turn sharply. Her legs and fingers are long and thin. This helps to forage among dense foliage or under snow. Studies have shown that a particular barn owl eats one or more voles per night, which corresponds to about twenty-three percent of the bird's body weight. nine0005

Small prey are torn to pieces and eaten completely, while larger prey, over 100 g, are dismembered and the inedible parts are discarded. At the regional level, rodent-free products are used according to availability. On bird-rich islands, a barn owl's diet can include 15-20% birds.

Features of character and lifestyle

Photo: Barn owl

Barn owls stay awake at night, relying on keen hearing in total darkness. They become active shortly before sunset, and are sometimes seen during the day as they move from one roosting site to another. Sometimes they may hunt during the day if the previous night was wet and difficult to hunt. nine0005

Barn owls are not particularly territorial birds, but have a specific home range in which they forage. For males in Scotland, this is an area with a radius of about 1 km from the nesting site. The range of the female largely coincides with those of the partner. Outside of the breeding season, males and females usually sleep separately. Each individual has about three places to hide during the day and visit for short periods during the night.

These locations include:

  • tree holes;
  • crevices in rocks;
  • abandoned buildings;
  • chimneys;
  • stacks of hay, etc.

As the breeding season approaches, the birds return to the vicinity of the chosen nest to roost. Barn owls are feathered in open areas, such as agricultural land or pastures with some areas of woodland, at altitudes below 2000 meters. This owl prefers to hunt along the edges of the forest or in strips of coarse grass adjacent to the pasture. nine0005

Like most owls, the barn owl soars silently, tiny serrations on the leading edges of the feathers and a hair-like band on the trailing edges help cut through the air currents, thus reducing turbulence and the noise that accompanies it. Bird behavior and ecological preferences may differ slightly even among neighboring subspecies.

Social structure and reproduction

Photo: Barn owl chick

Barn owls are monogamous birds, although there are reports of polygamy. Pairs stay together as long as both individuals are alive. Courtship begins with the demonstration of flights by males, which are reinforced by sound accompaniment and pursuit of the female. The male will also hover in the air in front of a seated female for a few seconds. nine0005

Copulation occurs every few minutes while looking for a nest. Both sexes squat in front of each other to produce copulation. The male climbs onto the female, grabs her by the neck and balances with spread wings. Copulation continues at a decreasing frequency throughout the incubation and rearing of the chicks.

Barn owls breed once a year. They can breed at almost any time of the year, depending on the diet. Most individuals begin breeding at the age of 1 year. Due to the short lifespan of barn owls (2 years on average), most individuals only breed once or twice. Generally, barn owls raise one brood per year, although some pairs have seen growth of up to three broods in one year. nine0005

Interesting fact: Barn owl females leave the nest during incubation only for a short time and at long intervals. During this time, the male feeds the incubating female. She stays in the nest until the chicks are about 25 days old. The males bring food to the nest for the female and chicks, but only the female feeds the young, initially breaking the food into small pieces.

Barn owls often use an old nest that has been occupied for decades instead of building a new one. The female usually lines the nest with crushed granules. She lays 2 to 18 eggs (usually 4 to 7) at the rate of one egg every 2-3 days. Female incubates eggs from 29up to 34 days. The chicks hatch and are fed by the female after hatching. They leave the nest 50–70 days after hatching, but return to the nest to roost. They become completely independent from their parents 3–5 weeks after they start flying.

Now you know what barn owl chicks look like. Let's see how an owl lives in the wild.

Barn owl's natural enemies

Photo: Barn owl bird

Barn owl owls have few predators. Chicks are sometimes caught by stoats and snakes. There is also some evidence that the horned owl occasionally preys on adults. Barn owl subspecies in the western Palearctic are much smaller than in North America. These subspecies are sometimes hunted by golden eagles, red kites, vultures, peregrine falcons, falcons, eagle owls. nine0005

When facing the intruder, barn owls spread their wings and tilt them so that their dorsal surface is directed towards the intruder. Then they shake their heads back and forth. This display of threat is accompanied by hisses and bills that are given by squinted eyes. If the attacker continues the attack, the owl falls on its back and kicks him.

Known predators:

  • ferrets;
  • snakes;
  • golden eagles;
  • red kites; nine0054
  • northern hawks;
  • common buzzards;
  • peregrine falcons;
  • mediterranean falcon;
  • owls;
  • opossum;
  • Tawny Owl;
  • eagles;
  • virgin eagle owl.

Siruchas host a wide range of parasites. Fleas are present at nesting sites. They are also attacked by lice and feather mites, which are transmitted from bird to bird through direct contact. Blood-sucking flies such as Ornithomyia avicularia are often present and move among the plumage. Internal parasites include Fluke Strigea strigis, the tapeworm Paruternia candelabraria, several parasitic roundworms, and spiny worms from the genus Centrorhynchus. These intestinal parasites are acquired when birds feed on infected prey. nine0005

Population and species status

Photo: Barn owl

This species has had stable demographic trends for the last 40 years in America. The population trend in Europe is assessed as fluctuating. Today, European populations are estimated at 111,000-230,000 pairs, corresponding to 222,000-460,000 mature individuals. Europe is approximately 5% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population is 4,400,000–9,200,000 mature individuals, although further verification of this estimate is needed. nine0005

Modern farms no longer have enough farm buildings for nesting, and farmland can no longer support enough rodents to support a pair of barn owls. The owl population, however, is declining only in some places, and not throughout its range.

Interesting fact : Unique subspecies with small island populations are also at risk due to their limited distribution range. nine0033

Barn owl responds to climate change, pesticides and changing agricultural practices. Unlike other birds, they do not store excess body fat as a reserve for harsh winter weather. As a result, many owls die in freezing weather or are too weak to breed the next spring. Pesticides have also contributed to the decline of this species. For reasons unknown, barn owls suffer more severely from the effects of pesticide use than other owl species. These pesticides are often responsible for egg shell thinning. nine0005

Date of publication: 30.07.2019

Date of update: 30.07.2019 at 20:27

Author: Alekseeva Inna

Keeping owls at home

Today it has become almost fashionable to keep various exotic animals and birds at home . If earlier lovers were limited to rare breeds of dogs and cats, now in an ordinary city apartment you can meet crocodiles, reed cats and birds of prey.

Here we will stop on birds of prey. nine0234 Mostly they give birth to owls. It is very difficult to pass by a cute fluffy creature with huge eyes. People buy owls at the infamous "Bird Market" or bring owls from the forest, believing that they are "lost", "fell out of the nest. " You can talk about the "Bird Market" endlessly. Obsessed with a thirst for profit, sellers recklessly lie to buyers in the hope of a profitable sale. Naturally. After all, few people want to keep a bird at home, which spoils a lot, yells at night and eats only mice. Moreover, it has all the "charms" of a wild animal - as a rule, sellers assure that owls are grown in nurseries, but in reality - all birds are caught by poachers. So people buy a pet, literally “stuffed” with helminths and various infections. And in birds, most diseases are asymptomatic and rapidly - yesterday the bird ate well and was active, and today it lies at the bottom of the cage. nine0005

Photo 1. Owl

Therefore, before getting an owl, think carefully, weigh your possibilities - do they match your desires?
So - owls. The owl is a nocturnal predator. This already says a lot - the main activity of the bird is precisely in the late evening, at night and in the early morning. At this time, owls hunt in nature. So in captivity it will be the same - from evening to morning the owl will rattle something, shout (especially during the mating season) preventing you from resting. So it is best to start an owl for people who lead a predominantly “nightly” lifestyle. Now let's deal with the concept of "predator". It is clear that such a bird cannot be fed with cereals, predators eat meat. But even here there is a difficulty - the owl's digestion is arranged in such a way that it needs to eat the whole carcass of a rodent or bird as a whole - with feathers, fur, bones. Accordingly, feeding chicken or beef disappears - get ready for the purchase of mice, day old chickens, quails. And they cost a lot and getting in the right amount is a problem. nine0005

Photo 2. Little Owl

But, let's say that the nightly cries and the specifics of the diet of owls do not frighten you and you still want to get an owl. Then, first of all, you need to decide what kind of owl you can keep. The fact is that there are many and different owls - from small-sized owls (photo) to a huge owl (photo). Medium-sized owls are the gray owl (photo) and the Ural owl (photo). But still, for an ordinary city apartment, the owls are too big, they will need a lot of space for flights, and even if you have spacious rooms, the owl will still upholster the feather. Therefore, it is optimal to keep long-eared owls (photo), short-eared owls (photo) barn owls (photo) or the aforementioned owls. nine0005

Photo 3. Barn owl

Before you buy an owl, arrange an apartment for it in a suitable way. Yes Yes. Your apartment, not a cage in the apartment, because You can't keep owls in cages. An owl will certainly beat a feather on the bars, injure the wax (a soft place above the beak), and earn namin on its paws.

How to prepare a room for an owl.
First of all, you should remove all objects that the owl can knock over, tear, stain. Owls love to play, so keep in mind that you will have to strictly monitor the location of your belongings, especially socks and documents. Leave unattended - the owl will certainly pick up the "toy" and goodbye passport! The tulle on the windows needs to be replaced with thick curtains, because. in tulle, an owl can easily get tangled and, while it fights, it will break its paws or wings, or simply die, hanging upside down for several hours. Large mirrors should be removed or curtained (windows too), otherwise the owl may be seriously injured trying to fly through the glass. nine0005

Photo 4. Eagle owls

Walls should be nailed with "perches" - wooden or iron "sticks", always upholstered with something soft - for example, artificial grass "astroturf" or, at worst, carpet. Also, think over a place for a bath in advance - owls love to wash, for this they are given shallow wide containers of water (cat litter trays with high sides are perfect).

So, the place is prepared. Now you need to think about food for the owl. As I wrote above, owls must be fed with the carcasses of rodents and birds, and freshly slaughtered. Of course, you can also give thawed carcasses, but “live” food must be present in the diet, because. frozen meat loses some essential trace elements. nine0005

Photo 5. Long-eared owl

You can buy rodents in a pet store, but the prices there “bite” and most often there is not the right amount. After all, even a medium-sized eared owl eats at least two mice per day. So it is better to buy mice in bulk at the Bird Market. You can also buy day old chicks and quails there. Keep in mind that if mice and chickens can be given to an owl without carcass preparation, then the quail must be opened and the insides carefully removed and the head and legs cut off. The fact is that these birds often have various diseases that can be transmitted to your owl during a meal. nine0005

Photo 6. Long-eared owl chick

Do you still want to have an owl at home? Then about the purchase:
Owls must be purchased in official nurseries, making sure that when buying you have all the documents for an owl and the number on the document matches the number stamped on the ring (birds are ringed in nurseries). Thus, you will be insured against the removal of birds (catching and keeping wild birds is prohibited by law), moreover, birds from nurseries are more tame and healthy. Although immediately after acquiring an owl, it is necessary to show the owl to a veterinarian, pass the necessary tests, just in case, take an x-ray. By the way, not every veterinary clinic has a veterinarian who understands birds. In Moscow, there is a veterinarian-ornithologist at the White Fang clinic and at the Moscow Zoo, in the Moscow region, birds are taken at the Cobra clinic, which is located in Krasnogorsk. nine0005

Well, let's assume that the room for the owl has been equipped, the food has been bought, the visit has been agreed with the veterinarian, and we have gone to the nursery for the owl.

As a rule, in the nursery you will be offered a choice of the most common species - this is a long-eared owl, a short-eared owl, a gray owl, an owl (there is also a gray owl (photo), but it is large for an apartment) and various owls. When choosing the type of owl, you should remember that even a small eared owl needs a lot of space (at least a room), so I strongly do not recommend purchasing long-tailed owls, bearded owls, and even more so an eagle owl. Small owls are no worse than larger species, they are just as sociable and playful, and they are not inferior in beauty to plumage. It is better to buy a very young owlet, he will quickly get used to his hands, and like all cubs, owlets are very funny. It is quite easy to distinguish a chick from an adult - the owls are covered with delicate fluff, the older owls are already beginning to grow with an “adult” feather, but their tails are noticeably shorter than those of adults, and in some places the fluff is still preserved. It is necessary to transport an owl in a closed spacious box (a cat carrier is not the best option, because the owl will see through the carrying grate, respectively, it will get frightened out of habit and begin to fight). At the bottom of the box you need to lay a soft diaper, cut a few very small holes in the walls of the box for air access. If an owl is purchased in winter, then the time spent on the street should be limited as much as possible, otherwise there is a risk of catching a cold. nine0005

When you get home, don't scare the owl, let it look around. To do this, simply open the box and leave the bird alone for a while.
After a couple of hours, you can offer food and water to the owlet. Sometimes the owls cannot yet tear apart the carcasses, so the carcass must be finely chopped. Place the water so that the owlet sees it perfectly - when he pays attention to the bathing suit - chat in the water with your hand, thus showing the presence of water in the container. Over time, the owlet will determine whether there is water, but while it is small and in an unusual environment, you should pay much more attention to it, without disturbing or frightening it - try not to pick it up, do not make excessively sudden movements, do not shout. nine0005

Always offer food from your hands - this way the owl will get used to you faster.
Pay close attention to your pet's digestion and appearance. After each meal, the owl should discard the pellet. The pellet is the undigested bones, wool and feathers that the birds regurgitate about 10 hours after feeding. If there is no pellet, this is a reason to worry about the health of the pet. You should also inspect the pellets - they should not have blood on them, the pellet should not smell bad. Pay attention to the droppings - normal owl droppings are a white "puddle" with a little bit of darker, harder droppings. If the droppings become foul-smelling, yellow or brown, or thinner, contact your veterinarian. nine0234 The normal behavior of a healthy owl is very different from the behavior of a diseased owl. A sick bird loses its appetite, becomes apathetic, sits for hours with its eyes closed, squints, half covering its eyes with its lower eyelid, the feather, especially under the tail, sticks together and becomes dirty. All of the above are signs of a disease.

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