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Barn Owl - Fact File
British Birds- Barn Owl
Tyto alba
Widespread but declining resident over much of the region, but absent from much of N and W Scotland.
Found in a wide variety of open country including farmland, marshes, meadows and rough pasture.
Beautiful pale ghostly plumage and heart shaped face are distinctive. Can sometimes be seen hunting during the day, especially in winter.
33 - 39cm (13 - 15")

Barn Owl

Dusk falls over a Norfolk grazing meadow and the ghostly figure of a barn owl swoops and glides in its quest for prey. Such a sight is sadly no longer common across Norfolk fields but at Strumpshaw Fen, near Norwich, the barn owl, with its distinctive white heart-shaped face, is breeding again.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds' reserve first set about attracting barn owls in 1987. The owls had given up breeding in the area after eating poisoned prey which had been feeding on the nearby rubbish tip. When the tip closed the conservationists at the reserve put up nesting boxes in haystacks bordering the grazing meadows. In the first year the barn owls roosted, but it was not until 1990 that a pair bred and raised young.

Barn Owl in flightInformation assistant Helen Corbet said 'We don't know how many young there are we daren't go and see in case we frighten them off.' Hungry owl chicks take a lot of feeding and the parents are locked in an almost continual quest for food. 'They would normally hunt at dusk but with the young ones to feed they can be seen hunting during the day,' said Helen.
The young will stay in the nest for 50 to 55 days but staff at the reserve are hopeful that once the chicks have flown, the owls will breed for a second time in the same season

By Debbie Bartlett

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Copyright Information

  • Article: © Eastern Counties Newspapers Group
  • Illustrations by Dave Nurney from - The Pocket Guide to the Birds Of Britain and North-West Europe By Chris Kightley and Steve Madge © Pica Press and reproduced with kind permission.
  • Other material: © Birds Of Britain