Barn Owl

Tyto alba


Perhaps the most familiar owl, the barn owl will often hunt during the daytime and can be seen 'quartering' over fields and grasslands looking for its next small mammal meal. However, barn owls are also perfectly adapted to hunt in darkness with deadly precision: their silent flight and heart-shaped face which directs high-frequency sounds, help them to find mice and voles in the vegetation.

How to identify

Unmistakeable: the barn owl is ghostly white below, mottled silver-grey and buff above with a heart-shaped, white face and black eyes.

Where to find it

Widespread, absent from the Highlands of Scotland.


When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

Although widespread across Britain and even the world, barn owls have suffered huge declines here over the last 50 years due to agricultural intensification and habitat loss. Working with farmers, landowners, other organisations and local people, The Wildlife Trusts have helped to halt this decline by providing suitable nestboxes and managing habitats for their benefit and the benefit of their small mammal prey. You can help barn owls to bounce back by volunteering for your local Wildlife Trust and helping with everything from nestbox schemes to habitat maintenance.

Local information

The BBOWT West Berks Living Landscape project will create and maintain many habitats for a wide variety of wildlife. These include heathland and grassland which barn owls use for hunting. BBOWT are also working with farmers and landowners to encourage them to manage their land sensitively for wildlife, including barn owls. Other BBOWT reserves where you might spot barn owls include Chimney Meadows, Finemere Wood and Letcombe Valley

Download our fact sheet about barn owl habitat or read our blog post about the importance of scruffy grassland.

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Species information

Common name
Barn Owl
Latin name
Tyto alba
Birds of prey
Length: 33-39cm Wingspan: 89cm Weight: 300g Average Lifespan: 4 years
Conservation status
Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. Classified in the UK as an Amber List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review.