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Barn Owl

Irish: Scréachóg reilige
Latin: Tyto alba

The white heart shaped face and dark eyes of the Barn Owl are distinctive. Appears long necked with short tail in flight. The white underparts contrast with the buff and light grey upperparts. Often seen in the dark in the headlights of vehicles, when it looks very white or pale.

It roosts and nests in old buildings and trees and prefers open or lightly wooded ground especially along river plains. However, pairs also utilize conifer plantations and urban areas. Most Barn Owls breed below 150m and where snow cover is usually limited.

In Ireland the most abundant prey items are wood mice and common rats.

Nests in old buildings, holes in trees and nestboxes. No nest constructed and 4-7 eggs laid on whatever substrate is present. Lays eggs from March to August and incubation lasts 30-34 days while the chicks remain in the nest for about 60 days.

The Barn Owl is a resident species breeding over much of the country but seemingly absent from the west. The population is estimated to be somewhere between 600-900 pairs and is in steady decline.