are dozens of members of the barn owl family in the world, but only
one in North America. In Canada it is restricted to extreme southern
Ontario, and in British Columbia it is found on southern Vancouver
Island and in the Fraser Valley on the BC mainland.
Barn Owls are
fascinating predators. They are almost strictly nocturnal, and enjoy
extremely good vision. More remarkable, though is their hearing.
With ears placed asymmetrically in their skulls, they are able to
pinpoint the location of the faintest sounds. Tests have shown that
Barn Owls are able to pounce on prey in absolute darkness.
In British Columbia,
these efficient hunters eat primarily Townsend's Voles (Microtus
townsendii), with a few other items for variety. Historically, they
nested in broken treetops, and on ledges and cliffs. In Europe and
North America, though, they now nest almost exclusively in human
or seven white eggs are laid, at two-day intervals. Incubation of
about 32 days begins as soon as the first is laid, so the first
to hatch may be two weeks old when the last hatches. In a good year,
all will survive, but if prey is scarce, only the biggest and strongest
will get enough food. The young fledge in about 60 days, but are
still dependent on the adults.
Barn Owls do
not say "hoo-hoo". Their most memorable call is a blood-curdling
scream. A loud hiss is given as a warning call, and a chattering
like castanets seems to be a territorial call.
Barn Owls take
readily to nest boxes and platforms. All they need is a safe place
for their young, and suitable habitat for hunting. They tolerate
human company well, and are fascinating to watch as they go about