Barn Owl

Tyto alba

Our Ambassadors
Our Barn Owls were flown to Tennessee by plane in the spring of 2007 from Wild at Heart, a rehab facility in Cave Creek, Arizona. Both owls are partial amputees.  The lighter, more spotted owl served as a foster mom and often vocalizes to defend her territory.  The owl with the darker face gloved-trained very quickly, and she is often seen in the classroom or on a perch near the Visitor Center.

Open countryside that contains a mixture of grasslands, marshland, scrubland, young tree plantation, hedgerows, edge of woodland and field margins left alongside hedgerows. Also found in barns and buildings where rodents are numerous.

Length 12.6 – 15.7 in
Wingspan 39.4 – 49.2 in
Weight 14.1 – 24.7 oz

White heart-shaped facial disk. Dark brown eyes. Light colored bill. Head and upper parts mottled rusty brown and silvery grey with fine sparse black streaks and dots. Under parts vary from cinnamon to white. One of the palest North American Owls.

Drawn out, hissing shriek

Eating Habits
Small rodents

Average 4 – 7 eggs.  Eggs are laid every 2 – 3 days resulting in stair-step aged siblings, increasing the odds that one young will survive to adulthood. 

Life Span
Average 2 years in the wild; High mortality rate during first year. Captive birds have been known to live up to 34 years.

Interesting Facts

  • Barn Owls have the best sense of hearing! They can hear a mouse’s heartbeat from 30 feet away.  Their facial disks funnel sound to their asymmetrical ear holes, which they use to triangulate the precise location of sound sources.

  • Barn Owls are in a different family than true owls, such as the Great Horned Owl.

  • Barn Owls perform a defensive dance, called toe dusting, while vocalizing when disturbed or threatened. Toe dusting is when they spread their wings out, and sway their heads back and forth over their toes.


400 Garden Road, Chattanooga, TN 37419 | (423) 821-1160 | map | directions