Image: Barn Owl Illustration
Barn Owl, Tyto alba
- Andrew Howells
- © Australian Museum
Barn Owls are pale-coloured birds of the night that live in open wooded and grassy areas all over Australia. They have a white face with a circle of brown around it and a pale brown-coloured back. They have short, hooked beaks and feet with three toes facing forwards and one toe facing backwards.
Barn Owls fly close to the ground at night and listen for mice, birds, lizards and insects. When they hear a prey item they drop onto it and grab it in their sharp talons, killing it quickly. They swallow their prey whole and then vomit back up the parts of their food that cannot be broken down.
Barn Owls call with a drawn-out screech.
Barn Owls make nests from a bed of wood chips and leaves in tree hollows or caves. Females lay three to seven white, round eggs. The female sits on the eggs for 33 to 35 days. When the eggs hatch the chicks are helpless but covered with down. The female feeds the chicks with food brought back to the nest by the male. When the chicks are older both parents take it in turns to feed them. The chicks have feathers and are ready to fly in nine to ten weeks.
Barn Owls live alone or in pairs and will hiss and snap their beak if they feel threatened.