The barn owl is one of Britain's best loved countryside birds. With distinctive features such as their heart shaped face and white underparts they are easily identified. Their upper body is a golden colour laced with grey and they have a wingspan of 85 centimetres. Their colouring is very good for camouflage as they blend in with the type of ground that they commonly fly over. Barn owls sometimes appear to be completely white until you examine the top of their body. They are iconic birds in the UK and are very recognisable with their stunning features. The barn owl was voted Britain's favourite farmland bird by the public in an RSPB poll in July 2007.
You can spot barn owls in the open countryside, along riverbanks and at the edges of fields. They can be seen throughout the year but are most likely to be out and about at dawn and dusk. It's definitely worth getting up early in the morning to see a beautiful barn owl. You might be lucky enough to spot a barn owl during the day as they sometimes venture out if they are in desperate need of food. They lay their eggs in the spring and young owls usually flee the nest in July and August. They normally nest in places such as trees and buildings. Barn owls do not 'hoot', they actually make screeching and hissing noises.
Barn owls will hunt small animals across open land from the sky. They like to eat things like voles, shrews and mice and are perfectly well adapted to hunting in the dark. They have the ability to maintain slow flight which helps them to identify potential prey from the skies. They are very quiet when they fly which means they can turn up unannounced because the feathers on their wings are very soft. They have excellent hearing so that they can pinpoint animals foraging in the ground. They also have brilliant sight, their eyes are actually twice as sensitive to light as humans eyes are. In order to grab, catch and kill their prey they have extremely strong legs and very sharp talons and long legs.
The barn owl has unfortunately seen a decline throughout the 20th century due to their habitats being destroyed and intensive agricultural practices. They had a tough breeding season in 2012, struggling with the poor weather conditions. They are very specialised hunters who have become very well suited to their environment, but unfortunately they really do suffer when their environment changes.