The Western Barn Owl (Tyto alba) is a medium-sized bird in the Tytonidae family of barn owls.
The Western Barn Owl has a wide, white facial disc with a light brown edge. Its underbelly is white and its wings are brown flecked with black. It has long, broad wings. It has big eyes, and a light-grey to beige beak. It does not have ear tufts that many other owls have. It has long legsand toes with sharp claws.
It grows to 19-28 centimetres (7-11 inches) tall, with a wingspan of 50-61 centimetres (20-24 inches).
The Western Barn Owl is native to Eurasia (except Malta) and most of Africa (except the Sahara). It prefers farmlands, grasslands, and woodlands.
It is a migratory bird, travelling long distances in winter to warmer locations.
It is nocturnal, active at night. Its flight is silent, enabling it to ambush its prey. It has good hearing. It is carnivorous, eating small mammals on the ground, such as shrews, mice and rats, but it will also eat lizards, frogs, toads, and insects.
Its predators include cats, dogs, badgers, coyotes, and snakes.
The Western Barn Owl nests in holes in trees, on cliffs, or in buildings. The female lays 2-9 eggs, and she sits on them while the male feeds her. The eggs hatch after about 30 days. The chicks, called owlets, are born with soft grey and white feathers.
Both parents feed the chicks. The chicks can fly for short distances after they are about 28 days old.
The Western Barn Owl can live for about 9 years in the wild.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM