Common Barn-owl - Tyto alba
Also called ‘white lady’ or ‘church tower owl’ in French, this is the most well-known owl. Its close proximity to humans has brought it quite a lot of difficulties. It used to be nailed alive onto barn doors to ward off evil! How ungrateful, when we know that this bird mainly feeds on small rodents. It is a sedentary bird. Populations are holding up thanks to their large broods, but we must remain vigilant as church towers, barns and old buildings are becoming increasingly inaccessible and collisions with vehicles more and more frequent.
First chick hatched at Le Rocher des Aigles : Pitchoun, born in 2005
CLASS : Aves
ORDER : Strigiformes
FAMILY : Tytonidae
WINGSPAN : 1m
WEIGHT : 187-450 g
CLUTCH SIZE : 4-7 eggs
INCUBATION : 29-34 days
LIFE EXPECTANCY : Records 29 years in the wild, 34 in captivity
DIET : small mammals, mainly rodents, and insects
NATURAL HABITAT : a variety of habitats, near human settlements, more or less cultivated open areas, trees, hedgerows and marshland. It nests in church towers, dovecots, barns and granaries.
RANGE : every continent, except Greenland and the Antarctic.
Conservation status info
LC: Least Concern
The species is still threatened by pesticides, road collisions (50% of deaths), lack of nesting sites (wire netting on church towers to prevent pigeons nesting, the closing of dovecots, barn and granary restoration and the disappearance of hollow trees preventing the species from breeding), the disappearance of hunting territory, poisoning (great consumer of rodents – when these are poisoned, it causes serious famine during the winter and contributes to the decline of the population) and poisoning by products used in agricultrual and industrial production. Although the impact on the population is not so severe, it is also threatened by drowning in drinking troughs, by chimneys where they become trapped, by collisions with power lines and by barbed wire fencing.
It is still persecuted in Asia and Africa.