Scientific Name: Tyto alba
Appearance: a medium sized owl with no ear tufts, slender and linear in overall form. Back and upper side of wings are cinnamon colored with flecks of white, black and grey, underside can vary from white to cinnamon, breast is often flecked with dark grey. There are two phases (or morphs) within the species: the white-breasted, almost pure white underneath kind (like Twister in the picture above) and the darker orange-breasted phase, where the breast is a dark cinnamon similar to the back and wings. The darker phase also has more dark on the face as well, almost looking as if someone penciled in some extra strokes along the edges of the facial disk. Plumage variation seems to have nothing to do with age, sex or geographic locale. The long legs and toes are unfeathered.
Common Name: Barn Owl, Ghost Owl, Monkey-faced Owl, Orange Owl, Spirit Owl, Queen of the Night (really!), Stone Owl, Sweetheart Owl, White Owl.
Size: a little over 17 inches tall, wingspan of 42.7 inches, beak averages an inch long. Has an unusually long tarsus (the area on the leg just above the toes) measures on average 2.6 inches. Females are slightly larger then the males overall.
Range: North America, although this family of owls is widespread throughout the world numbering 17 species in all, and all look very similar to the ones we see in the US.
Food Preferences: almost exclusively rodents, although supplemental prey can include sparrows, starlings, frogs, moths, and lizards.
Hunting Technique: soaring about 10 feet off the ground over open habitat, uses hearing ability to locate prey, vision used mostly just for avoiding other objects.
Habitat: Can be found nesting and roosting on high ledges in barns, stone walls, silos, farm outbuildings, abandoned or empty houses, water towers, belfries, mine shafts, large tree cavities, institutional buildings, granaries, quarries, or even under roadway or railroad bridges (and that's the short list!) Barn owl nests have also been found in tunnels they have excavated in a tall steep stream banks. They like to have an open area to hunt in such as an orchard, field or large clearing.
Nesting: 5 - 7 eggs, female does most of the brooding, male brings food. Incubation lasts 30 - 34 days, young are hatched out semi-downy, immobile and eyes are closed. Fully fledged out in 52 - 56 days.
Habits: strongly nocturnal, which often keeps them from being seen by humans. They become active starting at sundown, however if they have chicks in the nest they will also hunt during the day to keep up with food demands of the babies. A nest or roost site is most often identified first by the "whitewash" or urates below the area. Permanent resident year round.