Barn owl in flight (c) Simon Richardson

Barn owl

Barn owls have over 30 subspecies and, with a few exceptions, they are distributed world-wide. The barn owls which live further north in Europe are a darker shade than the race found in the UK. Barn owls do not hoot, instead they emit a long, eerie screech (its alternative name is the screech owl). They also hiss, snore and yap. As well as rodents, they eat other small mammals, such as young rabbits and moles, and they also catch frogs and small birds.

Did you know?
Barn owls have exceptional hearing and can find prey by sound alone.

All you need to know about British birds.

Scientific name: Tyto alba

Rank: Species

Common names:

  • Common barn owl,
  • Screech owl,
  • White owl

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Map showing the distribution of the Barn owl taxa

Species range provided by WWF's Wildfinder.

The Barn owl can be found in a number of locations including: Africa, Asia, Australia, China, Europe, Indian subcontinent, Madagascar, Mediterranean, North America, South America, United Kingdom, Wales, Ynys-hir nature reserve. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.


The following habitats are found across the Barn owl distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

Conservation Status

Least Concern

  1. EX - Extinct
  2. EW
  3. CR - Threatened
  4. EN - Threatened
  5. VU - Threatened
  6. NT
  7. LC - Least concern

Year assessed: 2009

Classified by: IUCN 3.1

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