Barn Owl

Tyto alba


The barn owl (Tyto alba) has been in decline over the past several decades in Pennsylvania. This decline can be attributed to changing land-use and agricultural practices which have reduced barn owl reproductive potential. The Pennsylvania Game Commission has developed a Barn Owl Conservation Initiative to better evaluate the statewide status of this species and aid in its possible recovery. The initiative’s goal is to compile existing barn owl locality records and assess existing or historical barn owl habitat. Finally, it seeks to determine the most promising barn owl conservation areas. Recovery initiatives include the erection of nest boxes and public education and outreach concerning the barn owl’s importance and benefits.


Two chicks ready for banding. Berks Co., May 2006

Barn owls have a worldwide distribution, being found on every continent except Antarctica. It is found throughout most of the United States. Mature individuals stand around 10-15 inches tall and have a wingspan of 41-47 inches. Pale in coloration, long-winged and long-legged, these animals are also known as monkey-faced owls because of their heart-shaped facial disk. Primarily nocturnal, they prefer agricultural fields, grasslands, and other open areas. They feed mainly on rodents and, thus, are beneficial to farmers. The barn owl nests in natural tree cavities or man-made structures such as barns – as its namesake suggests – abandoned buildings, and church steeples.

Two chicks in a barn owl box. Rich Bonnett examines the waste from a barn owl box. Frequent cleanings of these boxes are necessary.

For more information pertaining to barn owls, please visit Lycoming County, PA Barn Owls