About the Barn Owl
Current distribution and numbers
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BritainThe most recent UK Barn Owl Survey (Project Barn Owl) produced a population estimate of 4,000 pairs but the methods used did not involve extensive recording across the whole country so no distribution map could be produced.
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The breeding season distribution of Barn Owls in Britain and Ireland as reported to the British Trust for Ornithology during the Bird Atlas 2007-2011 project. This provisional BTO/Birdwatch Ireland/Scottish Ornithologists Club map shows the distribution after three of the four years of fieldwork. Map courtesy of the BTO © 2011
The most detailed large-scale Barn Owl surveys ever carried out were both carried out by the Barn Owl Trust - the 2003 Devon Barn Owl Survey and 2004 Cornwall Barn Owl Survey. Together these give a very good impression of distribution on the southwest peninsula. Although rare, the species is well distributed but generally absent from upland areas and major road corridors. The population estimate for the two counties combined is 620 to 830 pairs (approx 15-20% of the UK population).
Barn Owl distribution in Devon and Cornwall as recorded during the 2003 Devon Barn Owl Survey and 2004 Cornwall Barn Owl Survey. Showing county boundaries, the 300 metre contour, motorway (blue) and dual carriageway (red).
WorldwideAlthough the Barn Owl Tyto alba is the most widely distributed land bird in the world, the familiar white-breasted Barn Owl Tyto alba alba is only found in Britain and western Europe. Globally the species is made up of 35 sub-species, many of them island forms with very restricted distributions. Tyto alba gutatta is widely distributed across eastern Europe, pratincola in north America, tuidara in south America, affinis in Africa, and deliculata in Australia.
The map shown was taken from the book Owls of Europe, Mikkola, H. (1983), courtesy of T & AD Poyser Ltd.
There is more information about this topic in the Barn Owl Conservation Handbook.