Barn Owl

Tyto alba
Barn Owl specimens on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

The barn owl feeds on small rodents, especially voles and mice (11), and on frogs and insects (2), which it locates using its excellent sense of hearing (9). It is usually active in the evening, early morning or at night (11), but in times of hard frost or snowfall, individuals may be forced to hunt for longer periods, and may be seen in the day (6). The unlined nest is made in hollow trees or in old buildings. In April or May, between 4 and 6 white eggs are laid. These are incubated solely by the female, who is fed by the male during this time (5). Incubation starts after the first egg is laid, so they hatch at intervals (11), 32-34 days after being laid (5). The young therefore vary widely in age and size (11), and spend a very long time in the nest, between 64-86 days (5).

DC Information

Uncommon permanent resident, usually found in agricultural areas or marshes. Has nested in the towers of the Smithsonian Institution, where these specimens were taken . Nesting peak is early March to late July. Female is larger than male.

Specimen Information

Record for the bird on the right -
Date:  1/8/1908
Collected By:  Not recorded
Locality: Smithsonian Tower,  Washington, DC
Sex:  Male
Catalog ID:  208755

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalizations

Tyto alba

Tyto alba

Sound from xeno-canto. XC1951 Tyto alba (Western Barn Owl)