1. Barn owls are just like us.
These birds of prey are highly sensitive and intelligent creatures who have complex communication systems and cooperative social structures.
2. Like humans, barn owls can be fearful, shy, or outgoing—or the opposite!
Barn owl mothers and fathers can differ in their responsiveness to their offspring begging for food, as one parent or the other shows a stronger tendency to feed the begging offspring.
3. Barn owls are not ours.
Perhaps the most important fact that you’ll learn about these birds is this: Those who are bred and reared in laboratories have individual worth and needs, just like all animals.
4. Barn owls talk the talk.
Barn owls’ screeches serve a purpose. These birds express their needs and desires to each other through their own language, consisting of a variety of complex, context-specific sounds. As described above, even nestlings will vocally communicate to one another about their relative hunger.
5. Young barn owls are endearingly peaceful.
Despite the sharp point of their downward curved bill and their ᴡᴇᴀᴘᴏɴ-like claws, barn owlets (baby barn owls) are nonᴠɪᴏʟᴇɴt, altruistic, family-oriented animals. Barn owl siblings get along perhaps better than most human siblings do—they clean and feed each other and huddle together to stay warm. They even negotiate who in the nest will get the food their mom or dad is about to bring them in the most amicable way, by deciding among themselves who is the hungriest based on whoever emits the neediest call.
6. The city you call home might be home to barn owls, too.
These nocturnal birds form communities all over the U.S., not just in barns. They can be found in grasslands, forests, and even cities.
7. Sharing is caring.
According to some bird-appreciation sites, barn owls have been known to share their nest with other species, a noteworthy phenomenon among animals in nature.
8. Bird brain? What a compliment.
Owls are among the rapidly increasing number of bird species that researchers have observed using tools in their natural habitat—for example, collecting ᴅᴜɴɢ and using it as bait to attract beetles, a favorite source of food.
9. Barn owls are committed lovers.
Pairs of male and female barn owls often mate for life. They regularly use the same nest site every year and have elaborate courtship rituals—such as courtship flights, calls, and offerings of food—to reestablish their pair bond every spring. Adults live in home ranges that overlap with those not only of their mate but also of other individuals and pairs of owls, and they can extend for miles.
10. Engineers look at barn owls with envy.
Thanks to their special feathers, these amazing animals fly silently. Because of their unique wing structure, they alter air turbulence during flight and make virtually no sound—something engineers try to achieve when designing turbines and aircrafts.
11. Barn owl siblings: “You scratch my back—I’ll scratch yours.”
Barn owls who are fed and preened by a sibling are more likely to feed and preen that brother or sister.