Barn owl (Tyto alba)
The Zoo is home to one male barn owl, Squiggles, who hatched in 2011 and came to the Zoo in 2013.
Status in the wild
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) status: Least concern. Barn owls' food supply and habitat range are greatly affected by human development and the use of rat poison. They are also losing their much-needed roost sites as trees and open country sides diminish. The introduction of roads and power lines present additional lethal hazards to owls reestablishing themselves in areas with suitable nesting sites. Barn owls are very sensitive to unusual fluctuations in precipitation as well.
The barn owl is one of the most wide-spread of all land birds. They are found on all continents and large islands all over the world (except Antarctica, the Philippines, and other remote tropical chains). In South America they are found in areas of suitable grassland, as well as on oceanic islands such as the Galapagos. They’ve been introduced to some oceanic islands, like the Hawaiian chain, to help control pest populations. They are most commonly found in grassland areas, woodlands, hedgerows, marshes, and agricultural fields. They usually roost by day in tree hollows or other quiet cavities, and can also be found in caves, wells, barns, silos and other man-made structures.
Barn owls hunt small ground mammals with the majority of their diet consisting of small rodents including vole (field mice), shrews, wood mice and young rats. They will also feed on bats, young rabbits, insects, frogs, lizards and snakes.
- Barn owls are most commonly monogamous; pairs typically remain together as long as both individuals live.
ability of barn owls to locate prey by sound is some of the most accurate of
any animal, allowing barn owls to capture prey hidden by vegetation or snow.
- Barn owls have relatively short lifespans in the
wild, averaging about 2 years. The oldest
recorded barn owl in the wild reached 17 years of age. In captivity, they can reach 20 to 25 years.