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Barn Owl facts


A few Barn Owl facts to start you off!

  • What do Barn Owls look like?
  • What sounds do Barn Owls make?
  • How can you tell if a Barn Owl is male or female?
  • Where are you likely to find Barn Owls?
  • What do Barn Owls eat?
  • And lots more!

Watch our short video to find out some amazing facts about Barn Owls with David Ramsden MBE, our Head of Conservation.

What do Barn Owls look like?

Barn Owl facts printable pdf  (*free for personal or educational use only)

Barn owl facts pdf screenshot

Take a look at our gallery of Barn Owl photos.

What sounds do Barn Owls make?

Listen to Barn Owl calls:

Barn Owls make eerie screeching and hissing noises

Young owlets (and females prior to nesting) will make food begging calls

If you regularly hear an owl hooting, it is likely to be a Tawny Owl. Hear what other UK owls sound like on our owl identification page.

Have you seen a wild Barn Owl in the UK?

Please record your sighting on our Barn Owl Survey Website.

How can you tell if a Barn Owl is male or female?

It is almost impossible to tell if a Barn Owl is male or female just seeing it fly overhead. However, a close look may give you a clue. Females often have darker brown feathers around the rim of the facial disc as well as darker bars on the tail and small black spots on the chest and underside of the wings. Males are generally lighter and a more pure white underneath.

Females are slightly heavier than males at around 360g (males usually weigh around 330g) although during the early breeding season females may weigh as much as 425g before egg laying. Barn Owl normal and starvation weights.

Take a look at our photo-guide to sexing Barn Owls.

Field guide: Where are you likely to find Barn Owls?

Discover where Barn Owls live with Head of Conservation, David Ramsden MBE.

What do Barn Owls eat?

Barn Owls are birds of prey, hunting and catching small mammals, particularly Field Voles, here in the UK. They have some extraordinary adaptations to help them hunt at night, such as incredibly sensitive hearing and the ability to spot movement in very low light.

Field vole adult

Find out more!

Pellets floor loc47 [david ramsden] 150811 (b) cropped and resized 700x499

Signs of occupation

Barow closeup 10th primary feather serration [melanie lindenthal] 070906 (c) cropped


Barow hunting [les foster] 270116 (b) cropped

Hunting and feeding

S of shobrooke aerial margins habitat [david ramsden] 111014 (b) cropped2

Home range

Barow nest abandoned egg tab [lexie new] 280616 (b) cropped

Nesting – Spring

Barow brood young nest brood setup highres [kevin keatley] 000000 (c) cropped

Owlets – Summer

Barow young four tree [phil thorogood] 160819 (c) cropped

Dispersal – Autumn

Barow perched snow jack frost [mike reid] 030806 (c) cropped

Winter – survival

Barow hunting vole flight grassland [phil thorogood] 160819 (c) resized

Life expectancy

Barn Owl facts for kids

and lots of fun stuff too!

Fun facts for kids