Pittsburgh Zoo Barn Owl

Barn Owl [Tyto alba pratincola]

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Quick Facts

  • Size: Adult barn owls are 13 to 16 inches in length, have a wingspan of up to 36 to 45 inches, and weigh 10 to 13 ounces.
  • Lifespan: 2 to 5 years in the wild
  • Description: Primarily white, with buff, yellow and tan markings; the heart-shaped facial disc is framed in brown
  • Range: Found almost anywhere in the world except for polar and desert regions in abandoned buildings, barns, and caves.
  • Diet: Small rodents, baby rabbits, bats, frogs, lizards, birds, and insects.

Barn owls eat 1 ½ times their own weight every day.

Female barn owls will lay two to eight eggs every two or three days, depending on food supply. The incubation period is 35 days, after which the owlets are born. A healthy pair of barn owls may have two young per year. With the decline of farming in North America, barns and other shelters barn owls have typically utilized are also on the decline, which threatens barn owls. The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium has conducted a breeding program and tracking research on these once plentiful animals to help bring back the population. 

Barn owls prefer to hunt while perched on a fence or post instead of hovering over a field as other predatory birds. A barn owl will attack its prey in a low flight, grab with its feet, and nip through the back of the skull with its bill. Barn owls eat 1 ½ times their own weight every day.
  • Location in the Zoo: Kids Kingdom
  • Schedule: Exhibit area is open Spring, Summer, and Fall.