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Includes several potential species (see Taxonomy section)
It is 29â€“44 cm (11Â½-17Â¼ in) in length, with an 80â€“95 cm wingspan. A pale, long-winged, long-legged owl with a white, heart-shaped face. The head and upperparts are buff, and the underparts vary from white to chestnut, depending on subspecies.
Widespread but in decline in many areas due to changes in farming practices.
Breeds in the British Isles (except the north), Iberia and France east to the Black Sea and north to the southern shores of the Baltic. In the south found along the north Mediterranean coast east to the Adriatic but very patchy in Greece, also on all major islands including Crete and Cyprus. Rare and local in Israel, Syria and Iraq. In north Africa breeds in Morocco, northern Algeria and Tunisia, also on the Egyptian coast and in the Nile Delta and Valley. Also breeds on Madeira, the Canary Islands and Cape Verde Islands.
Twelve subspecies are recognised by Clements
About 8 races have been described from the Western Palearctic. Some are separable on marked differences in plumage and others on range.
Nominate alba from Western and Southern Europe and the Western Canary Islands is pale above and white below, while guttata from Central and Eastern Europe (has also been recorded from Britain) is much greyer above and buff to chestnut below.
Many other races exist in the remaining part of its range. Race detorta may warrent species recognition, as also possible for some other races. Andaman Masked Owl has already been split from these species. Closely related to, and sometimes considered to include, the Ashy-faced Owl from the West Indies.
KÃ¶nig and Weick in their Owl monograph has split the Barn Owl into several species, which may end up being accepted by other authorities:
In a chapter by Wink et al. included in the book is a comment that the American forms need further study and that further splitting may be in order.
Open country with some trees or rocky outcrops for nesting. In Europe now found mainly on farmland with copses, areas of rough grassland and hedgerows. Often nest in old farm buildings, churches and ruins.
The diet includes small mammals, particularly rodents, and is supplemented with other small vertebrate (such as birds and lizards) and large invertebrate life. A couple of examples: In Denmark, the local Barn Owls seems to strongly rely on Screws which are found in wet fields and marshes.
Typical nest sites include buildings, tree stumps and cliff crevices; Barn Owls will readily use appropriately designed nest boxes. The clutch of 4-7 eggs are incubated for 33 days. The male helps feed the young and the chicks can fly after 9-12 weeks.
Hunting flight is typically low gliding over fields and hedgerows with intermittent fast, low flapping ranging flight with a banking stoop with spread wings onto prey. Hunts day or night, though mainly nocturnal. There seems to be a lot of variation in this between different individuals. This makes monitoring populations problematical.
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