In appearance the barn owl is very distinctive. It has a body length of up to 36cm (14") and has handsome buff-coloured plumage mottled with grey on the upper parts of the body and wings. The heart-shaped head and the underparts of the barn owl are white. Barn owls replace their feathers in order to remain sleek and manoeuvrable in flight. They do this through moulting, a process which takes place over a period of two to three years.
Barn owls have large eyes and, as with all owls, the head can be turned 180 to permit the bird to look directly backwards.
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