Surprising Barn Owl Facts

Did you know that Barn Owls don’t give a hoot? Instead, they screech and can even hiss like a snake to scare away predators? This is just one of many little-known Barn Owl facts you may find interesting.

These Barn Owl facts may surprise you. It is a fascinating species of bird, with its predatory tendencies, nocturnal habits and amazing hunting skills. One of the most popular species of birds, you can observe barn owls in their natural habitats almost anywhere.

Barn Owls Can Live Almost Anywhere
One of the most amazing barn owl facts is that they live almost everywhere. The only places you don't find barn owls are in desert or polar regions. Other than that, you'll find them in practically every country and continent around the world. Barn owls aren't a regional species, there are many subspecies and their proliferation is quite impressive.

As one of the most prolific bird species, barn owls are recognizable all over the world. With their white undersides and white face with distinctive, downturned beak set between wide ,dark eyes, barn owls carry a beauty and mystique that many people find fascinating. Barn owls grow up to 20 inches in height, and often have distinctive brown or tawny markings. Their eyes are fixed in their sockets, so they must turn their entire heads to change their field of vision.

An Amazing Predator
In spite of their sleepy and placid appearance, barn owls are very successful predators. They can see extremely well in the dark, and their hearing enables them to hunt and strike prey by sound alone. Barn owl pellets reveal that these birds eat their prey practically whole, using their sharp beaks only to rip the prey into bite-sized chunks. Their soft, downy feathers enable them to fly in near silence, making them fearsome and virtually undetectable predators.

Barn owls are completely nocturnal and only begin hunting after full dark, instead of the twilight that signals the beginning of the day to other types of owls. These predatory birds prefer small, ground-dwelling prey, such as mice, rats, gophers and other four-legged critters. They will occasionally eat small birds if ground-dwelling mammals are unavailable.

Barn Owl Facts
A Barn Owl typically lives for only one or two years. They nest in diverse habitats, from tree hollows to caves, abandoned buildings, barns or anyplace they can find shelter. Barn owls breed once or twice per year, with females laying up to six eggs at two-day intervals. The owls then incubate the eggs for around 30 days, at which point owlets covered with white down emerge. They shed the down within two weeks and begin to resemble adult barn owls.

Barn Owls in Culture
Some cultures associate barn owls with death and misfortune, while others equate these prolific birds with prosperity and wisdom. In Native American culture, the Hopi nation considered barn owls taboo, believing them to be tied with sorcery and evil. Mesoamerican natives, such as the Aztecs and Mayans, linked the owl with destruction and death, and even depicted the Aztec god of death with owls.

In Indian culture, the Barn Owl is a companion to a goddess and is considered an omen of prosperity. Some Indian institutions also equate the Barn Owl with wisdom. In Greek mythology, barn owls were the companion of the goddess Athena, and owls are the unofficial mascot of Mensa. These interesting barn owl facts surprise many. 

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