Birds of prey


Protective Status

of Washington
Appendix II
CEE Annexe
Appendix C1


Birds of prey
Tyto alba

The barn owl is an average-sized nocturnal bird of prey (the same size as a pigeon) with a slender body extended by long legs and broad, long wings.
The species displays no sexual dimorphism, except that females are slightly larger in size.



Its diet mainly comprises voles, murids and shrews (over 95 %).


The species is monogamous and reaches sexual maturity at the age of one.
The pair settles in the nesting site in February or March.
Barn owls settle for basic amenities, the nest takes the form of a small basin hollowed out of a pile of old broken apart pellets.
Only the female incubates. This lasts for about 32 days.
Unlike other nocturnal birds of prey, barn owls may lay twice a year when conditions are favourable.


The barn owl usually inhabits open and wooded environments located close to human constructions.
Preferential hunting grounds involve a large proportion of natural pastures, the borders of fields, hedges or woodland as well as wasteland, fallow land and orchards. Inland or coastal marshes, as well as highly agricultural areas are also common. 
Nests are usually situated in old buildings being sure to provide a minimum of dark space (barns, granaries or infrequently used houses, churches, manor houses, attics and in cavities (trees, cliffs). Nesting in trees or cliffs is very rare in northern and eastern regions of France, whereas it appears much more common on Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts (MULLER op. cit.). Churches (naves and spires) are particularly sought after in France.

distribution - numbers

The species routinely breeds throughout Europe.
The tyto alba barn owl breeds throughout France apart from mountainous areas in the Alps, Pyrenees and the Massif central.
Breeding has however been confirmed up to 1,500 m in the High Alps.