Barn owl © Danny Green, 2020VISION

Barn owl ©Danny Green, 2020Vision

Barn owl

©Andy Rouse/2020VISION

Barn owl perched

©Jon Hawkins Surrey Hills Photography

Barn owl

Scientific name: Tyto alba
The beautiful barn owl is, perhaps, our most-loved owl. With its distinctive heart-shaped face, pure white feathers, and ghostly silent flight, it's easy to identify. Look out for it flying low over fields and hedgerows at dawn and dusk.

Species information


Length: 33-39cm
Wingspan: 89cm
Weight: 300g
Average lifespan: 4 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Green under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2015). Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.

When to see

January to December


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.

How to identify

The barn owl has a mottled silver-grey and buff back, and a pure white underside. It has a distinctive heart-shaped, white face, and black eyes.

In our area

Barn owls have suffered declines over the last 50 years due partly to agricultural intensification and also habitat loss. Warwickshire Wildlife Trust is trying to halt this decline by engaging with farmers, landowners, other organisations and local people and by installing a network of Barn Owl nest boxes. The Arden Farm Wildlife Network, funded by Natural England’s Facilitation Fund was set up in April 2018 with the aim of supporting farmers to create bigger, better, more joined up areas that benefit wildlife. Farmers within the Network are committing to managing their land more sympathetically for barn owls, providing the right habitat for their food (small mammals) and creating corridors in the landscape for them to travel. The missing link is the availability of suitable nesting sites which will now be supported thanks to funding from Tesco Bags of Help. 

The new network of Barn Owl nest boxes throughout the Arden landscape will enable the barn owl population to flourish. Barns Owls are site faithful and will stay in their home range for their whole lives so the nest boxes we're providing will help to maintain the Barn Owl population in Warwickshire for future generations. Looking after our Barn Owls means that many other small creatures and plants benefit as well.  


Widespread, but absent from the Highlands of Scotland and under threat in Northern Ireland.

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.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts are working closely with farmers, landowners and developers to promote wildlife-friendly practices. Across town and country, The Wildlife Trusts manage many nature reserves for the benefit of the wildlife they support. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife news, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and will be helping local wildlife along the way.