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Barn Owls

Tyto alba


The barn owl (Tyto alba) is the least common species of owl that breeds in Florida. In addition, it is unique from the other "typical owls" in that it is the only species in its family.

Its appearance is very different from other owls, as well. It has a large, white, heart-shaped face, edged in brown, with contrasting dark eyes and a pale bill. It has longer legs than most owls, typically gray. The top of the head and back is brown and gray, as are the upper part of the wings; the undersides of the wings are pale. The chest and belly is typically white in males and light brown in females, but it can vary somewhat. Both the chest and belly have small, dark spots in the females; males have little spotting.

As with many owl species, females are a little larger than males; this species averages one pound in weight. It has a smaller tail than other Florida owls, and although its wingspan is the same as the common barred owl (roughly 3.5 feet), it is smaller in body length (16 inches). Overall, it is a pale owl, somewhat ghostlike in appearance, especially if seen at night.