Barn owl


The barn owl is well known to the inhabitants of Western European countries, however, in Russia little is known about it. This is the most ancient branch of the order sovoobraznyh. Its Latin name sounds like Tyto alba, and English - Barn owl. In the people she was nicknamed the night owl, a ghostly and screaming owl. Its distinctive features are the peculiar voice and shape of the head. Who is such a barn owl, and what is her lifestyle? Let's talk in more detail in this article about one of the most common owls in the world.

Barn Owl: Description

The name of this bird of prey, apparently, comes from the peculiarity of its voice, resembling a kind of snoring or vulture. It differs from other representatives of owls in the shape of a face disk in the shape of a heart, and it seems that she is wearing a white mask. The small-sized bird has a light color and a peculiar face. It is about the same size as an eared owl or a daw. In length it reaches 33-39 cm, its body weight is 300-355 g, and its wingspan is about 90 cm. By the way, its weight can vary within wide limits and depends individually on a particular individual. It can be a mass of both 180 g and 700 g.

In the upper part of its color acquired sand (red) color with white and dark specks. The barn owl is white in the lower part (less often yellow), besides this there are dark patches in the plumage. The face disk is light and has a flattened appearance, it also received an ocher rim, under the eyes there is a small portion of red feathers. Wings - pale white, with a golden-streaked pattern. The iris is dark brown or black. Her eyes are expressive and big. It has a slender physique, and it also has long paws that have thick and fluffy plumage to the toes. She has a short tail. The beak is yellowish white. By the way, the color of the lower part depends on the habitat of the barn owl. For example, in North Africa, Western and Southern Europe, in the Middle East it is white, but in the rest of Europe it is yellow-orange.

On the basis of gender, they practically do not differ from each other. Females are slightly darker, but this is not particularly noticeable. Young chicks are also no different from adults, sometimes they are more variegated.

As we have noticed, a bird such as a barn owl has a very memorable appearance, the photo clearly shows us this.


The common barn owl is 35 subspecies that are distributed across all continents, excluding only Antarctica, they are also found on the islands. Previously, it could be found in the Baltic States and other CIS countries: now there it lives in a small amount. On the territory of Russia is found only in the Kaliningrad region. In the European part it is absent in the northern regions and mountain systems.

On the one hand, the barn owl is adapted to different geographical conditions, as it is distributed almost everywhere, and on the other hand, it does not have the ability to accumulate fat reserves in itself, and therefore does not tolerate the harsh climate. For this reason, it does not exist in the northern regions of the United States and in most of Canada, in Northern Europe, and practically throughout the territory of Russia. The bird can not live also in the African and Asian deserts.

There were cases when the barn owl was artificially populated by a person in those areas where it never was. Thus she appeared on the Seychelles and Hawaiian Islands, in New Zealand. After the barn owl was settled in the Seychelles, the population of the kestrel began to decline.

Favorite places to stay

The barn owl almost always settles near human dwellings. It nests in both large cities and in rural areas. Likes populated in attics, in hollows and niches of walls. It prefers roofs of houses and abandoned buildings. Most often, the barn owl is found on open plains, where a small number of trees are present. It can be places such as light forest, swamp, dense meadow, also inhabited by birds along the wastelands, ponds, ravines and highways.

It can often be found where agricultural farms and human housing are located. A barn owl tries to avoid dense forests and high mountainous places. For this bird, the following conditions for distribution are necessary: ​​accessibility of food, absence of cold winters and weak competition with other predators. Basically, they do not change their habitat, exceptions are situations when the food supply in the habitat is depleted.

What to eat?

Her most favorite food is mouse-like rodents, she can also cope with pasyuk (big gray rat). She can catch up to 15 mice per night. Less commonly eats small birds, in particular, sparrows, as well as large and amphibious insects. Rats, voles, hamsters, shrews, opossums can be used as food. They can also catch bats, frogs, reptiles and invertebrates. The victim owl grabs right on the fly, clamps her with his tenacious claws and carries her to a place where she can safely enjoy it.

The location of the hearing aid allows the bird to pick up all the sounds that the victim makes, which helps her a lot when hunting. Her ears are asymmetrical: one of them is at the level of the nostrils, and the other is in the area of ​​the forehead.

Characteristic voice of a barn owl

She lets out a hoarse whispering rattle. The barn owls defiantly flap their wings and snap their beaks. By the way, this peculiarity of theirs can involuntarily terrify people who decided to take a rest in the forest silence and met her. There are many sounds made by this owl, but still the predominant one is a hoarse shrill trill, which can be heard during its flight. The cry of the female vulture is below tone.

By the way, the bird received its Russian name for a low, raspy, hoarse cry that sounds like “heya”. They publish it more often than the usual owl hoot. Her peculiar hoarse voice resembles a hoarse cough.


She takes off to hunt in the late twilight and is strictly nocturnal. As a rule, they live one by one, but can occur in small groups in places where game is congested. Since the barn owls lead an active lifestyle at night, during the day they sleep off. To sleep, they choose some niche, natural or artificial - it can be a hole in the ground or an unused attic.

During a hunt, they change their height - then they go up, then they go down again, flying around their possessions. They can also expect a victim, lurking in ambush. Their wings are arranged in such a way that their flight is as silent and soft as possible, and they also have excellent eyesight and hearing. By the way, in some regions the barn owls hunt during the day, for example, in Britain, but at this time of day there is a danger for them in the form of birds of prey, such as gulls.

The barn owl kills its victim with claws, then steps on it with a long leg and tears it off with its beak. It has a very mobile neck, so it can eat prey, almost without bending down. During the meal, the feathers of the face disc move, and the owls seem to grimace.


The common barn owl is usually monogamous, but cases of polygamy are also not excluded. In the year there is one, rarely two clutches. The beginning of the breeding season depends, as a rule, on the climatic conditions of the habitat and the amount of food. In warmer regions and where there is a lot of food, they can breed at any time of the year. For example, in the temperate zone of Europe or North America, it begins in March-June. If re-laying occurs, the chicks will be hatched during the period March-May and June-August.

The male chooses the place where the nest will be, and then begins to invite the female. As such, the nest is not built, for this purpose a closed and dark place is chosen. This may be a groove in the old stump, a hollow tree and other niches. The female is engaged in incubating eggs, and at this time the male brings her food. The conditional nest is located at a height of 2-20 meters above the ground, the size of the clutch is usually 4-7 eggs, but can be from 2 to 14. They are larger, as a rule, in periods characterized by abundance of food. The size of the eggs, which are white or cream-colored, averages 30-35 mm.

During the breeding season, birds make various sounds. They shrill and hoarsely scream, whine and sniffle, making a distinctive heeee sound. The rest of the time, as a rule, owls are silent. For about a month, the female incubates the eggs. Juveniles fly out of the nest for 50-55 days of life.

By the way, a couple of owls stay together until the death of one of the partners. The female and male live close to each other, but alone.

Hazard behavior

When seated, the sitting owl-barn owl keeps the body straight, and if the bird is concerned, it assumes a threatening posture - spreads its paws, spreads its wings in a horizontal plane and crouches down to the ground. When she meets the intruder of her territorial possessions, she actively flaps her wings, getting closer and closer to the enemy. Loudly hisses and clicks his beak. If this does not help, then she attacks the enemy, falling on his back and striking with clawed paws.

Barn owl chicks

Hatching chicks are completely dependent on their parents, who feed them alternately. At birth, they are covered with thick white down. In the event that it is very cold, the barn owl does not leave the nest at all and warms the chicks, who become completely independent after three months. Grown up chicks fly to new places and find another territory for their habitat and reproduction. In the barn owl, even 10 chicks can appear at a time, if conditions allow, but in a hungry year, as a rule, no more than 4 eggs are expected.

It is noted that the behavior of their chicks is atypical for birds: they show altruism, refusing to eat in favor of those who are more hungry than they are. Compared to most other birds, in which the young literally rip out food from each other in order to eat themselves, this fact arouses great interest in such a bird as a barn owl. A photo of her chicks shows how they look when they are born.

Parents take care even after their chicks fly out of the nest: they continue to care for them and feed them until they become completely independent, that is, they do not reach three months of age.

People's attitude

Barn owl in humans has always been a symbol of wisdom, but at the same time they treated this bird with superstitious fear. Now superstitions are a thing of the past, and man is more and more genuinely interested in her. The barn owls cast fear on people because of some of their features: a white face that resembles a mask, frightening sounds, and because of the habit of this bird, fly up silently and appear sharply in front of the little man, for which people called her a ghostly owl.

The common barn owl mainly feeds on rodents, thereby benefiting humans. People have long appreciated the help of these owls in the destruction of pests. Thus, in the 17th century, such a practice spread, when in houses, barns, mills and other buildings special windows were made through which barn owls could penetrate and destroy rodents. In this way, the birds remained well fed and benefited man.

If they notice a number of people, then they begin to behave very interestingly: they rise high, sway on their legs in different directions and at the same time depict various grimaces. If you come very close to her, then, as a rule, she flies away.

How many barn owls live?

In natural conditions, owls-barn owls can live up to 18 years, but this is the maximum figure. In fact, it turns out that they mostly live very little - their average life expectancy is about 2 years. There were cases when the barn owl was able to live in natural conditions up to 17 years old, in North America a bird in captivity died at the age of 11.5 years, but in England a record was broken - the bird lived in captivity for 22 years.

We told about such an interesting bird as a barn owl, about its habits and how it is useful for humans. Unfortunately, due to changes in the environment and the use of pesticides in various parts of Europe, the population of the barn owl is decreasing. There are also frequent deaths of birds from a collision with cars on the roads. At present, the barn owl is a bird that is listed in the Red Books of a number of countries in Eastern Europe, where, for some unknown reason, its population has been rapidly decreasing in recent decades.

Owl: description and photos. What does a bird look like?

The owl is a night bird of prey. Depending on the place of residence, it may have different coloring of the plumage, masking the owl under the surrounding area. The owl's head is round with large eyes, the claws are long and sharp, and the beak is predatory and short.

Different types of owls have different sizes. The smallest owl is a owl. Its dimensions are only 17-20 cm, and weight 50-80 g. The largest of the owl is the owl. Its length is 60-70 cm, and weight from 2 to 4 kg.

The life of an owl in nature is about 10 years, in captivity these birds live up to 40 years. The very short life of an owl in its natural environment is often explained by hunger and hunting for owls of other birds of prey such as hawks and golden eagles.

Owl paws are very strong and quick, many of them are feathered. Owl claws sharp and curved, they help her to quickly grab the victim and hold her. Flying owls almost silent, this is due to the special structure of feathers. The first outer feathers are sawtooth and fringed serrated. The third and fourth owl feathers are longer than the others. The tail is rounded and trimmed, and the tail feathers are curved. The wingspan of the owl is about 142-200 centimeters. These birds fly very fast: the speed of an owl in flight reaches 80 km / h.

The bird makes a characteristic click when it is irritated or experiencing arousal. It turns out this is her thanks to the beak. The owl's beak is bent from the beginning to the very base, ends with a crochet, the edges are even and without cuts.

Owls can turn their heads 180 and even 270 degrees, without causing inconvenience or harm. The owl bird is a predator, and it needs to track down prey, so the eyes are not located at the sides, but in the front.

The owl's eyes are fixed and look only straight ahead. To change the direction of gaze, the bird must turn its head. At the same time, the owl’s angle of view is 160 degrees, and its eyesight is binocular, unlike other birds. World owls see in black and white. The lens of the owls is not in the eyeball, but in the horn tube, so the birds see very well at night.

Owl's hearing is 4 times better than that of a cat. As soon as the prey presents itself with a rustle or a sound, the bird rushes at it with lightning speed.

Types of owls, names and photos

In the owl family, there are 3 subfamilies, 30 genera and 214 species, the most common of which are:

  • Eared owl (lat. Asio otus)

The bird has a length of 31-36 centimeters. The wingspan reaches 86-98 cm. In the color of this species of owl a gray-brown shade with variegated spots prevails, the chest has a white color. On the upper side of the body there are dark spots, on the lower side there are transverse stripes. On the head of an eared owl there are large ear beams, which consist of six feathers.

It inhabits coniferous forests, prefers European countries or the north of Asia as places for nesting, flies to the north of Africa for wintering. The eared owl eats rodents, mice, voles, insects and birds.

  • Bearded Tawny (lat. Strix nebulosa)

A large bird, having a length of 80 cm and a wingspan of 1.5 meters. The big-headed bird has a smoky gray color. Dark stripes are located around the owl's yellow eyes.

It feeds owls of rodents and squirrels. For nesting chooses nests of hawks and buzzards, it does not build nests itself. The black spot under the bird's beak looks like a beard, hence the name of the bird. The bird has no feather ears, there is a white collar around its neck. The underside of the wings conceals dark stripes.

Bearded tawny owl lives in the zone of taiga and mountain forests in the Baltic countries, in the European part of Russia, in Siberia, on Sakhalin, in Mongolia.

Has a length of 60-75 cm, wingspan 160-190 cm. The weight of the male owl reaches 2.1-2.7 kg, the weight of the females is 3-3.2 kg. The eagle owl is the largest bird of the order owl. In the plumage of the predator, reddish and ocher colors predominate, the eagle owl's eyes have a bright orange color, and tufts of elongated feathers are located above the eyes.

Owls live in forests and steppes of Eurasia, they hunt rodents, mice, ravens, hedgehogs, hares, birds and other vertebrates.

  • Pygmy owl (lat. Glaucidium passerinum)

The length of the owl's body is 15-19 cm, the wingspan reaches 35-40 cm. Weight reaches 55-80 g. At the same time, males are smaller than females. The owl has a gray-brown or dark brown color; white feathers are distinctly distinguished on the feathers, larger on the back and smaller on the head. The bottom of the bird is white with longitudinal stripes of brown. The tail is gray-brown, there are 5 narrow lanes on it. The head is small and has a round and slightly flat shape; the owl has no ears. White and brown rings are located around the eyes of the pygmy. Глаза у птицы желтого цвета, над глазами имеются белые брови. Когти воробьиного сыча имеют черную или желтую расцветку. Лапы оперены полностью, до когтей.

  • Домовый сыч (лат. Athene noctua)

Небольшая птица, имеющая длину 25 см и вес около 150-170 г. Цвет оперения самок и самцов одинаков. Спинка птицы имеет светло-бурую или песочную окраску. On the white abdomen of an owl there are brown longitudinal mottled spots. Round white spots are located on the shoulder feathers.

The little owl lives in the south and in the center of Europe, in the north of Africa and in the southern Asian countries. In Russia, the owl is found mainly in the center and in the south of the European part, in the Southern Altai and Transbaikalia. Birds live in the steppe and desert regions, build nests in stones and burrows. The little owl eats insects, lizards, rodents, and sometimes birds.

  • Common barn owl (lat. Tyto alba)

Differs from other owl species with a seric facial disc. The length of the barn owl reaches 34-39 centimeters with a wingspan of 80-95 cm. The weight of the bird of prey is 190-700 grams. The coloring of the red-headed barn owl with numerous transverse stripes, stripes and speckles. The color depends on the habitat of the bird. The tail of the bird is short. Barn owl ears have an unusual asymmetrical arrangement: if the left one is at the level of the forehead, then the right one approaches the nostril area. Thanks to this feature, the bird hears very well.

The barn owl lives on all continents, except for cold Antarctica. In Russia, he lives only on the territory of the Kaliningrad region.

  • White owl (polar owl) (lat. Bubo scandiacus, nyctea scandiaca)

Has a body length of 55 to 70 cm, the weight of a bird is 2-3 kg. The wingspan reaches 143-166 cm. The color of the bird living in the tundra zone serves as a disguise, therefore white colors with dark spots prevail in it. The beak of a polar owl is black, the eyes are bright yellow. Paws of the predator are completely pubescent.

The polar owl lives in Eurasia, North America, Greenland, on the islands of the Arctic Ocean. The white owl feeds on rodents, lemmings, hares, ermine, white partridges, geese, ducks, fish. White owls are listed in the Red Book.

  • Hawk owl (lat. Surnia ulula)

It lives in forest regions in Europe, North America and Asia. In Russia it is found on Kamchatka, in the Magadan region, on Chukotka, on the coast of the Sea of ​​Okhotsk. It feeds on rodents (mice, lemmings, voles), sometimes it hunts squirrels, hazel grouses, black grouses, partridges and other birds.

The length of the bird reaches 45 cm. The tail of the bird is long, the color is brown-brown with white spots, in the lower part of the body there are thin stripes. Hawk owl eyes and beak are yellow.

Where do owls live?

Owls live all over the world, not finding them only in Antarctica. In Russia, there are 17 species of owls. A large number of these birds can be found in the forests, and only a few of them live in open areas.

Basically, the owl lives in the hollow and nests. The owl finds a home almost everywhere: in the forests, mountains, steppes and deserts. The eared owl lives on all sorts of fields, as it hunts in open areas, but creates its nests only in the forest. The white owl lives in the tundra, in winter it flies far to the south, does not like wooded places. Bearded tawny owl lives only in taiga dense forests. Owl species such as the barn owl and the owl find a house under the roofs and in attics.

What owl eats?

The question of what the owl bird feeds on in nature interests many people. This bird, both in its natural habitat and in captivity, eats rodents, small birds, insects, animals. The diet depends on the habitat of the owl. Owls of medium and large sizes feed on rats, mice, lemmings, hedgehogs, lizards, shrews, hares, frogs, toads, bats, moles, snakes, chickens. Little owls eat mostly insects (beetles, grasshoppers), and birds living in coastal areas eat fish, crabs and mussels. Owls living in tropical countries eat fruits, plants and berries. An owl bird can live without water for several months, quenching its thirst with the blood of its victims.

Owl keeping at home

Keeping an owl at home has become a very common occupation. But be sure to remember that the owl is a night resident and the main activity of the bird comes in the evening, night and morning. In this time period, they go hunting. From evening to morning, the home owl will make noise, scream and go about its business, making it difficult for the owner to sleep.

There are some difficulties with feeding the owl too, the bird's digestive system is designed so that it needs to eat a whole carcass of a mouse or a bird. It is logical that feeding with meat disappears, get ready to purchase mice.

Also pay special attention to the choice of the type of owl, a long-eared or marsh owl will be suitable for a standard city apartment. There will be little space for inchoate and owl even if you have a wide apartment or house.

What is the difference between owl and owl?

The owl is a bird of prey from the order of owls, of the owl family. It belongs to the genus of the eagle owl. This bird differs from other owl species in its appearance. First, the owl has the largest size compared to other owls. The head of the eagle owl is rather large and has characteristic features: in the area of ​​the auditory orifices there are short rigid feathers resembling auricles. In eagle owl characteristic color of feathers, reddish-fawn color. On a head and a back clear dark strips flaunt.

Secondly, unlike many species of owls that hunt only at night, the owl is a bird of the day and sees well in the daytime.

The prey of owls is mainly small rodents and insects, while the owl hunts pheasants, hares and young roe deer. This type of prey lives mainly in the steppe zone. In such places it is convenient for the owl to go hunting because of its large wingspan.

Owl on the left, owl on the right. Authors of the photo: snowyowls, Lotse

Owl description

According to their anatomical characteristics, all representatives of owls have significant differences from daytime feathered predators, due to which they belong to an independent order.

The most important features of the skeleton of owls are:

  • presence of characteristic processes on the main bones,
  • the presence of a kind of triple articulation of the skull with the lower jaw,
  • the presence of very short phalanges of the third finger,
  • the presence of pronounced mobility of the outer fingers, which are able to bend in the direction of the back,
  • the presence of a significant part of the types of characteristic notches, located on the rear edge of the sternum.

Owl head can rotate 270 °. This feature is explained by the presence of very peculiar dilatations of the carotid arteries at the level of the jaw lower bone, which leads to the creation of a blood supply and increases the number of small blood vessels that depart from large arteries. Connections of the carotid arteries have anastomosis jumpers, which prevents too much compression of the vessels.


Five rows of sufficiently rigid and scattered feathers form a radiant halo, which is referred to as a facial disc. Fly feathers of a bird have rounding at the ends and a characteristic bend in the side of the body. Often there is a fringing or sawing-like serration of the outer webs on the first three feathers, thanks to which the owls fly almost silently. For the third and fourth feathers characteristic pronounced length. Steering feathers on a cropped or noticeably rounded, often short tail also differ curved to the bottom. The legs have plumage almost to the ground.

It is interesting! A significant part of the species belonging to the order of the Sovoobraznye group has a very dull, grayish-rust staining with blackish or dark spots, stripes and mottled, which makes the feathering of the owl in harmony with the surrounding nature, especially after dusk.

Sharp and long owl claws are also distinguished by strong curvature, and the beak of such a feathered predator is bent, starting right from the base, and does not have any clippings along the edges. It ends with a cropped hook, through which an owl is able to produce a very characteristic click. Bristly feathers cover the short ceule. The eyes of an owl of any kind are quite large, looking straight ahead, which is explained by the position of the orbits on the face of the skull, and such a feathered predator sees the world around him only in black and white.

Contrary to a fairly common, but erroneous opinion, an owl is able to see well enough in the daytime, because the eyes of such a bird do not have a special sensitivity to daylight. The owl pupil is distinguished by a noticeable contraction and expansion, not only in the conditions of changing the level of illumination, but also in the process of inhaling or exhaling. The owl's hearing is incredibly thin, much clearer than that of any representatives of the Feline family. A relatively large outer ear is often covered with a movable and folded skin with plumage.

Character and way of life

There is currently no clear answer to the question whether the owl is a migratory bird, but mostly the feathered predators of their order owl prefer a settled way of life, and also prefer to settle exclusively in pairs. The main, peak activity of the owl falls on night hours, so during the day these birds sit in nests or on tree branches.

It is interesting! In ancient times, owls were very afraid and were often considered to be a very bad sign, associating them with unfavorable mystical events, and it was for this reason that such birds were persecuted almost everywhere.

The exception is represented by white owls capable of almost 24-hour activity on polar days. Males and females of owls come together in pairs and spend their entire lives in such a marriage, but the period of pronounced courtship or mating games inherent in very many species of birds in feathered predators is almost completely absent.

How many owls live

The average lifespan of owls can vary from five to fifteen years and, as observations show, depends directly on the habitat conditions, species characteristics and size of the bird. The record holder for longevity are owls. The world record was recorded in Sweden, where the life expectancy of one of the owls was 24 years and nine months.

The order includes a pair of families represented by owls, or real owls, and also owls.

Subfamily Real owls (Striginae) includes

  • genus Scoops (Otus) - these are five dozen species, whose representatives are distinguished by an incomplete facial disc, as well as by rather large feather "ears", bare or with harsh bristles with fingers. Birds are characterized by a reddish, brownish or grayish color with mottled,
  • genus Processors - these are twenty five species of predatory birds,
  • genus Tawny owl (Strih) - these are twenty-one species, the representatives of which have a body length in the range of 30-70 cm. This genus has no feather ears, and a good manifestation is characteristic of the facial disc. Plumage loose type, grayish or reddish staining with the presence of brown pestrin,
  • genus Owls (Vubo) - these are nineteen species, whose representatives are nocturnal birds with a reddish-brownish color with noticeable pestrin. On the sides of the head are feather "ears". The average body length varies between 36-75 cm,
  • genus Neotropical owls (Rulsatrih) - these are three types of predatory birds,
  • genus Fish owls (Socorelia) - these are three types of predatory birds,
  • genus Fish owls (Ketura) - these are three species, whose representatives are supposed to be included in the vast genus Vubo,
  • genus White-faced scoops (Ptilorsis) - a pair of species, representatives of which sometimes belong to the genus of scoop (Otus),
  • genus Cuban scoop (Margarobias) - a single species that forms the monotypic genus Margabobyas and is endemic to Cuba,
  • genus West American scoop (Rsilossors) - single species of birds of prey,
  • genus Horned owl (Lorhostrikh) - monotypic genus inhabiting the forest zones of the south and central America,
  • genus African horned owl (Jubula) - a single species that forms the monotypic genus Jubul and is endemic to Africa.

The subfamily Asióninae includes

  • genus Eared owls (Asio) - six species, representatives of which have a clear face disc, as well as a yellow or orange iris. The wings are long and narrow, with the top in the form of the second and third flight feathers. The view is characterized by large apertures, covered with a leathery asymmetrical fold. The legs of the bird have plumage to the claw part,
  • genus Jamaican scoop, or Striped owl (Pseudossors) - species reaching a length of 28-35 cm and possessing reddish plumage and a yellowish-gray beak,
  • genus Solomon Long-eared Owl (Nesasio) - a species forming a monotypic genus that previously belonged to the genus Eared Owls.

The subfamily Surniinae includes

  • genus Needle-headed owls (Ninoh) - thirty-three species, representatives of which are rare and bristle-shaped feathers, forming a covering of the fingers. The length of the bird varies from 20 cm to half a meter. The lower edge of the mandible is distinguished by a peculiar tooth,
  • genus Sparrow owls (Glaucidium) - three dozen species, representatives of which have small body size, short wings and a long tail. For the facial disc is characterized by poor development, "ears" are absent, eyes of small size,
  • genus Footedfoot owls (Aegolius) - five species, whose representatives look like owls, but have densely feathered fingers, shorter tarsus, relatively loose plumage, a larger head and a well-defined facial disc,
  • genus Sychi (Athene) - three species, whose representatives are inhabitants of the most open landscapes, cities, rural areas, steppe zones, semi-deserts and deserts, as well as any stony areas,
  • genus Forest Owl (Heteroglux) - a species whose representatives are characterized by very small size and long body within a quarter of a meter. The wing area is covered with whitish stripes. The main specific differences are represented by very powerful fingers, covered with white plumage. Sexual dimorphism is mild,
  • genus Hawk Owl (Surnia) - a species whose representatives are of medium size and long tail, and also differ in the eyes and beak of yellow color in the absence of characteristic “ears”. The average bird length is 35-43 cm with a wingspan of 60-80 cm,
  • genus Sych-elf (Misrahtene) - a species whose representatives were described as early as 1861, and also differ in body length within 12-14cm, with a weight of about 45 grams. Landing the body in a vertical direction, with a relatively large head and the absence of "ears",
  • genus Andean sideburn owl (Henogluch) - a single species, whose representatives are characterized by the formation of a monotypic genus,
  • genus Papuan owl (Urlohh) - a species whose representatives are of a monotypic genus and differ in average sizes with a body length within 30-33 cm, a small head, and also a long tail part. Wings shortened, with rounding. The front disc is white, but the young individuals have a brighter coloration compared to adult birds.

Thus, it is customary to attribute to the Pork family only three main subfamilies that combine three dozen genera.

Distribution area

Types of scoops gained distribution in Europe and Asia, as well as in Africa and America. Representatives of the Splyushka genus have become especially popular in Europe. In our country, in addition to the splyushka, in the Far East, oriental and collar scoops are also quite common, and in Central Asia and in the territory of Kazakhstan one can observe a scoop of deserts.

It is interesting! Sparrow owls are representatives of various biotopes, including taiga, as well as deserts and tropical forest zones; therefore, such individuals inhabit almost all continents of the world, with the exception of Australia.

Representatives of the genus Megasorses are inhabitants of North, South and Central America, and Neyasyti are widely spread in Europe, North Africa, as well as in Asia and in America. Neotropical owls inhabit the forests of South and Central America, and Fish owl - only the territory of Asia. Relatively numerous white-faced scoops are fairly widespread in our days African inhabitants, and Pseudossors are the exceptional inhabitants of the island of Jamaica.

Owl's diet

Owls inhabit almost the entire globe, so the food of such predatory birds is mainly of animal origin, but has a large species diversity. Owls, as the largest representatives of owls, feed exclusively on warm-blooded food, and rare iglonogie individuals prefer to eat insects.

Without water, an owl can spend several months, and a sufficient level of fluid in the body of a bird of prey is provided with fresh blood of prey. Owls hunt and, accordingly, feed, mainly in the dark.

The extraction of the largest representatives of the owl group can be represented not by very large foxes, lemmings and rodents, but also practically by any birds. For example, white polar owls prey mainly on varieties of mouse-voles, hares, and not too large ermines, and house owls very actively eat various pests, including various rodents.

Important! It should be remembered that owls never eat carrion, and for the winter period, food stocks of such feathered predators are made directly in nests.

Tiny elf sons feed on insects only, and the diet of owl is incredibly diverse. Barn owls, along with owls, prefer to settle near human habitation, where they destroy a huge number of harmful rodents.

Natural enemies

Основной причиной гибели сов принято считать недостаточность питания. In some years, when the total number of rodents and other animals hunted by owls is insignificant, about a quarter of the young individuals die. Among other things, different types of owls are very often subjected to predatory attacks by fairly large birds such as hawks, eagle and golden eagles.

Important! The nests of the polar owl are ruined by Arctic foxes that eat chicks and eggs, and skuas that have powerful beaks and well-developed claws pose a special threat to the offspring of this species.

The main enemies of owl chicks that fall out or fly prematurely from their nests are various carnivores, including raccoons, ferrets and foxes. But the main enemy of the owl at the present time is a man who has a destructive effect on the bird’s habitat by cutting down trees. Among other things, owls are often the subject of an unauthorized hunt.

Population and species status

Despite the fact that many species of owls bring considerable benefits to humans and destroy a lot of harmful insects, as well as rodents, some members of this family have become quite rare, which was caused by the limited distribution area and their displacement from the main, natural habitats. To date, the Arctic Owl, as well as some other species, has been entered in the Red Book and Appendix II of the Convention СИЭS.

Conservation status of the species

The barn owl is not among the species whose existence is threatened, but the reduction of the usual nesting places is a serious danger to it. In Eastern Europe in recent decades, for unexplained reasons, there has been a catastrophic decline in the population of the barn owl. The species has almost disappeared from the Baltic countries and Belarus, has become rare in Ukraine and Moldova. Now the barn owl is listed in the Red Books of several countries in Eastern Europe.

View and man

Barn owls are often to the dwelling of a person, settling in attics, in farm buildings, ruins, churches, and bell towers. It’s not for nothing that in English “barn owl” is translated as “barn owl”. In cities where there are always many rats and mice, barn owls are always easy to find for themselves. And besides, the "urban" barn owls have learned by night light to hunt night insects and bats.

Like other species of owls, people have always treated barn owls with superstitious fear, especially since it was them who were most often met near their homes. And just like other owls, barn owls were a symbol of wisdom. Now superstition about owls, fortunately, is gone, and people treat these birds with obvious sympathy. And the role of the barn owl in the fight against urban rodents is obvious and not disputed by anyone.

Distribution and habitat

The barn owl is one of the most common birds of the globe. It is found on all continents, with the exception of Antarctica, and on many islands, including distant ones. However, the barn owl does not tolerate the cold northern climate, so it is not found in the northern regions of Canada and Northern Europe. The barn owl was successfully introduced (settled) on many remote islands: Hawaiian, Seychelles, in New Zealand. However, the introduction of the barn owl to the Seychelles in 1949 showed how fragile the natural balance and how easy it is to break it. The fact is that the barn owl in the Seychelles began to hunt not only rats, but also the endemic Seychelles kestrel, whose numbers began to decline sharply.

On the territory of a vast range, more than 30 species of barn owl are distinguished.

In our country, barn owl is found only in the Kaliningrad region.

The barn owl lives in various biotopes, avoids only dense forests. This is one of the few bird species that has benefited human economic activities for deforestation and agricultural development, because it expanded the food supply and made it possible to spread very widely. The barn owl settles willingly next to the human's housing.

Nutrition and feeding behavior

The basis of the barn owl's diet consists of various mouse-like rodents and shrews. However, it catches birds, including birds of prey, and bats, and frogs, and insects. During a hunt, an owl either flies around its domain, constantly changing its height - up and down, or waiting for a victim from an ambush. The flight of the barn owl is soft and silent, since the wings are arranged so that the ends of the flight feathers extinguish the sound of flight.

The barn owl is killed with its claws, and then, stepping on it with its long leg, it breaks with its beak. Their neck is so mobile that they can eat almost without bending over their prey. During the meal, the feathers of the owl's face disc all the time move when the mouth is opened and closed, so it seems that the barn owls constantly make faces while eating.


The voice of the barn owl - a special hoarse “heya” - was the emergence of the Russian name of the bird. In general, the most "talkative" barn owls during the nesting period. At this time, they hoarsely or shrill scream and shriek. Outside the breeding season, barn owls are usually silent. In addition to voice sounds, they sometimes snap their beaks or flauntly flap their wings.

Lifestyle and social structure

Barn owls are solitary, but in places rich in prey they can be kept in small groups. This is one of the most "night" owls. Barn owls sleep during the day, and for a night, they choose some natural or artificial niche: a hollow, a hole or an old attic in the house. As a rule, they live sedentary, but in case of lack of prey (“not mouse years”) they can migrate to a new place.

Meeting the intruder of his territorial possessions, the barn owl spreads its wings and waves them, closely approaching the enemy. At this time, the owl hisses loudly and clicks his beak. The threat pose, such as that of other owls, is not present in the barn owl. Instead, it spreads its wings in a horizontal plane and lies down, clinging to the ground with tightly pressed plumage. If such a demonstration does not help, the barn owl can attack the enemy, falling on his back and striking with claws.

When a person approaches, the barn owls usually rise high on their long legs and sway gently, while actively moving the feathers of the facial disc, “grimacing”, and then fly away
The eyes of the barn owl are very well developed, they perfectly see both in the dark and in bright light.

Rumor, like all other owls, is also well developed. The ears are located asymmetrically on the sides of the head, the left is above, the right is below. This structure of the hearing aid helps the birds to hear the sounds of potential victims from different angles. The short thick feathers framing the front disc are good sound reflectors. Barn owls are very susceptible to all sound signals, and in case of too loud sound they cover ear openings with peculiar plugs covered with small feathers.


According to the ringing, barn owls can live in nature up to 18 years old, but their average life expectancy is much less - about 2 years. However, there are also “champion” results: in North America, the barn owl lived in captivity for 11 years 6 months, in Holland she lived in barn owls in nature for up to 17 years and the record holder was a barn owl from England, who lived in captivity for 22 years.

Keeping animals in the Moscow Zoo

In our zoo, the barn owls live in the pavilion "Night World", which, of course, is optimal for this species. Now it contains 5 birds. On the exposition you can always see 1 pair, the rest “rest” in a non-exposition room, the birds change every year. Most barn owls are derived from nature. One pair of barn owls regularly breeds, they already had 4 broods. They incubate the nestlings and feed the chicks.

The barn owl diet in the zoo consists of 6 mice daily.

Economic value

Owls in nature is simply of great importance. Such feathered predators can limit the total number of rodents, and also contribute to the active extermination of sick or too weak birds, which has a positive effect on the overall performance of the gene pool.

Among other things, such birds massively distribute all kinds of fruits and various seeds of plants, facilitating their settlement. Litter representatives of all types of owl belongs to the category of valuable organic fertilizer. An owl is an extraordinarily beautiful and proud bird, and many members of the family can easily and quickly adapt to living together with people, so they deserve to be in the category of popular and quite popular, exotic pets.