Barn Owl ~

The barn owl is a smaller species of owl that is found in a variety of habitats around the world everywhere except for polar and desert regions. Like most owls, the barn owl is nocturnal, feeding upon small vertebrates at night. Several adaptations that have enabled the barn owl to successfully capture prey at night include frilled feather edges that enable silent flight, asymmetrically located ears (not directly across from each other), and a facial disc of feathers to concentrate sounds.

In spite of its wide global distribution, populations of the barn owl have decreased in West Virginia due to the reduction of family farms that have been converted to intensively managed agricultural practices or that have been developed for residential or commercial purposes. These conversions have also lead to the loss of nesting habitat with the loss of barns and silos. If you own a farm or non-forested property, you can help barn owl populations by installing nest boxes and by leaving large open grassy areas to provide habitat for the barn owl and its prey.

We take care of one barn owl at the zoo named Howland. We feed Howland thawed frozen mice and a special meat-based zoo bird of prey diet. Howland enjoys new perching structures, shelter boxes, and boxes or bags to forage for food items.

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