Of the five species of owl which breed in Britain the barn owl is becoming much less common generally - and in some places, rare. A recent report suggested that there might be between 4,000 - 5,000 pairs of barn owls living in the British Isles.

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Breeding

The barn owl is, or was, a typical farm-dweller, roosting as its name implies in the timbers of old barns and outbuildings. The species also roosts in church towers, lofts and hollow trees, especially elm. 

Breeding may start as early as February or March, with up to seven eggs being laid in a clutch depending on the availability of food.  Barn owls have relatively large broods and the chicks have a fast growth rate.  The eggs hatch in about four weeks, during which time the male feeds the female on the nest. Baby owls can fly by the time they are ten weeks old. However, the chicks have relatively low probability of surviving into adulthood.

Although Barn owls can live for over 20 years in captivity, the risks to wild birds mean that only two thirds to three quarters of all adult barn owls in the UK survive from one year to the next. Their average life expectancy overall is only 4 years. 

This barn owl chick is only 10 days old!

Photo: Aluminium

 

Read More: Threats to the Barn Owl

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