Scientific Name: Tyto alba
Classification: Nongame Species
See A Barn Owl? Let Us Know!
Barn owl (Photo: NCWRC)
Barn owlets (Photo: Christine Kelly/NCWRC)
Barn owls are usually spotted while driving through open country at night. Barn owls are primarily cinnamon to golden-brown in coloration. They have a heart-shaped face that is white, with golden-brown feathers, creating a line around the face shape. Their undersides are usually white, but occasionally are of a golden color similar to their back sides. Their backs and upper wings are typically a mix of buff and gray. The females often have a more reddish and more heavily spotted chest. They have short tails and long, rounded wings. When hunting, barn owls fly low across open areas such as fields and marshes with deep, silent wingbeats. The only way to really know if an owl in the area is by listening for its high pitched, raspy screeching sound.
Barn owls have a wide array of nesting locations, as long as they are near open or semi-open areas where they can hunt. They nest in cavities, various structures or buildings. They also can be found nesting in woodland areas or within city limits if there is a good open area for them to forage for food, although this is less typical. Barn owls will hunt in these open areas by flying low and looking and listening for small rodents, and then fly down and grab their prey. Learn more by reading the Barn Owl species profile.
NCWRC biologists would like to learn more about their habitat needs and population distribution in North Carolina. If you see an active nest or other evidence of Barn Owl presence on your property, biologists would like to install nest boxes to monitor owl nest success and other life habits. Barn Owls are not attracted to an area just because a nest box is installed, so biologists are interested in places where Barn Owls are already present.
firstname.lastname@example.org; (910) 975-9393
Learn more about this project and how you can help!
The barn owl is a nongame species with no open hunting season. Under federal and state law, it is illegal for anyone to injure, harass, kill or possess a bird of prey or any parts of a bird of prey. This includes harming or removing a nest. If you find an injured owl, contact a licensed wildlife rehabiliator.
Barn owls are fully protected by law as are all birds of prey. Under federal and state law, it is illegal for anyone to injure, harass, kill or possess a bird of prey or any parts of a bird of prey. This includes harming or removing a nest. If you find an injured owl, contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.
Please contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Wildlife Services for any issues with this species. The toll free number is (866) 4USDA-WS (866-487-3297)
The Wildlife Commission is asking the public to report any sightings of barn owls to the agency.
Commission biologists are seeking barn owl observations to help them learn more about habitat needs and population distribution of barn owls in the Tar Heel state. Property owners who have barn owls can help further biologists’ knowledge by allowing them to place nest boxes on their properties, free of charge. To participate, anyone who spots a barn owl and property owners willing to have a next box placed on their property are asked to contact Allison Medford, email@example.com or 910-975-9393.
Barn Owl Species Profile (PDF)
Sandy Mush Game Land Birding Checklist (PDF)
Pond Mountain Game Land Birding Checklist (PDF)
Green River Game Land Birding Checklist (PDF)
See A Barn Owl? Let the WRC Know! (PDF)