Perhaps our most familiar owl, the ‘Barn Owl’ will sometimes hunt in the daytime and can be seen ‘quartering’ over farmland and grassland looking for its next small-mammal meal. However, it is perfectly adapted to hunt with deadly precision in the dark of night: combined with their stealthy and silent flight, their heart-shaped faces direct high-frequency sounds, enabling them to find mice and voles in the vegetation.
Did you know?
Throughout history, barn owls have been known by many different nicknames, such as ‘ghost owl’, ‘church owl’ and ‘screech owl’. But the name ‘demon owl’, in particular, illustrates how they were considered by some rural populations – something not so difficult to understand when you hear their piercing shrieks and hissing calls.
There is no set breeding season for barn owls (when they breed largely depends on food supply), it usually falls between March and August when there prey is mostly in abundance. As their name suggests, barn owls nest in the cavities of old barns and buildings, as well as the hollows of trees. Their nests are built on top of the previous year’s debris. Conservationists also mount specially constructed owl boxes for them to nest, this makes up for lost nesting sites and has contributed to their success.
Around 4-6 eggs are laid, hatching just over a month later. Chicks are ready to fledge at around two months old.
These birds are fairly common – populations declined previously but are now recovering, although numbers are still in decline in Northern Ireland. It is believed changing agricultural practices and the development of barns and old buildings could be the cause of their decline, while the introduction of owl nesting boxes is helping the species as mentioned above, this is an important part of their recovery plan.
We are keen to support nature, so the fur2feather team provide conservation grade wild bird feeds that are fair to nature, see our Honeyfields fair to nature range by clicking the link Conservation