Society for the Preservation of Raptors (Inc)

SPECIES DATA
ORDER STRIGIFORMES
FAMILY TYTONIDAE
Barn Owl (Tyto alba)



Barn Owl (Tyto alba)

The Barn Owl is believed to be the most widespread land bird on Earth, occurring naturally on every continent except for Antarctica.  There are around thirty distinct subspecies of this well known bird throughout the world.  The Australian sub species, Tyto alba deliculata ("the delicate white owl") may be found in all parts of Australia except for the most arid desert environments.

Famous for its ghostly beauty and silent flight, the Australian Barn Owl, which is smaller in stature than its northern hemisphere cousins, is a hunter of small terrestrial mammals up to the size of rats, and will take birds up to its own size under cover of darkness.  Its calls vary from a breathy hiss to an unearthly shriek.

In wooded areas, the Barn Owl's preferred hunting technique relies on stealth whereby it waits on a roost for an unwary animal to pass underneath, then dives to strike.  Barn Owls also quarter over open areas at low altitude, flying without making a sound, to snatch mice from the grass.  Since European settlement, the Barn Owl's favourite prey has been the common house mouse and introduced rat species.  Sadly, many barn owls die in Australia every year due to secondary poisoning as a direct result of human pest control methods.





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