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The Barn Owl Trust

Conserving the Barn Owl and its Environment

Watch us on Youtube Follow us on Twitter Join us on Facebook Live Barnowl webcam direct from a barnowl nestbox at our Owl Sanctuary

About the Barn Owl

Owlet identification and ageing



On occasion, you may find a nestling owl (i.e. not really old enough to have left the nest) or a fledgling owl (a bird that is just old enough to be leaving the nest). Your course of action will be dictated by (amongst other things) what species of owl it is, its age, and its condition.

v young tawny and v young barn owl

Very young owlets

Tawny Owl (left) and Barn Owl (right) at about 2 weeks old

young tawny and young barn owl


Half-grown owlets
Tawny Owl (left) and Barn Owl (right) at about 5 weeks old

tawny owl and little owl young


Well-grown juvenile owls
Tawny Owl (left) and Little Owl (right)
recently fledged.
Little Owls are sometimes mistaken for young Tawny Owls so please check.


Where you'll find them.

Young Barn Owls are usually found within buildings (although they do sometimes nest in hollow trees or in nestboxes on trees or poles). Report a (UK) Barn Owl nest on-line. Young Tawny Owls are most likely to be found in woodland or very close to trees. People often confuse very young Barn Owls and very young Tawny Owls. It's VERY important to find out what species you have, because the best course of action varies between species. If it's not obvious, please watch the slideshow ‘Pictures of Barn Owls, Little Owls, and Tawny Owls'(see link>).


The eyes have it...

One way to determine quickly whether you have a young Tawny Owl or a young Barn Owl is that the edges of the eyelids in a young Tawny Owl are usually livid pink. Our leaflets ‘What to do if you find a young Tawny Owl' and ‘What to do if you find a young Barn Owl' give more detailed descriptions as well as providing highly detailed guidance on the best course of action. (click on the links >).


Young Little Owls are not entirely dissimilar to young Tawny Owls, but as the name suggests they are a lot smaller. The eyes of Little Owls are also much lighter than the very dark brown eyes of both Tawny and Barn Owls (however, please note that very young Tawny Owls often have blue-looking eyes). Adult Little Owls continue to feed their young for up to a month after fledging, so the chances are that if the owlet you find is left where it is it will still be looked after by the parent birds. It is worthwhile trying to get it off the ground where it will be safer from predators, but unless it has an obvious injury or is starving it should be left in the area where it was found.


Is it in danger?

If the owlet that you have found does show signs of injury or starvation, or you are advising someone else who has found an owl, please refer to the following pages:

Picking up or receiving an owl

A do-it-yourself guide to assessing an owl’s condition

Should I pass the owl on? Making the right decision

How to find a local bird-experienced vet or rehabilitator

Do-it-yourself guide to the short-term care of a wild owl


Guide to aging a young Barn Owl

Barn Owl ageing guide


The Barn Owl Trust is dedicated to conservation & education and does not operate a visitor centre.
Barn Owl Trust staff and volunteers
Waterleat, Ashburton, Devon TQ13 7HU
+44 (0) 1364 653026