Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
The barn owl is found on all continents except Antarctica. In the western hemisphere, it is found from southern Canada to Tierra del Fuego, the southern tip of South America. It roosts during the day in large trees, barns, and old buildings.
Barn owls are considered a species of special concern throughout most of their range and are not common anywhere in the Midwest. They breed only sporadically in North Dakota, where they are considered rare.
The barn owl is a cavity nester. They do not make an actual nest but simply lay their eggs in the basin of a secluded spot. Some common nest sites include caves, barns, bird boxes, belfries, and abandoned mines. The female incubates the eggs while the male helps feed and guard the young. Barn owls are believed to remain mated for life.
The barn owl hunts at night over open fields and wetland edges, around granaries and barns, and in towns. It eats primarily mice, rats, ground squirrels and rabbits, but a small part of their diet also consists of small birds such as pigeons, blackbirds, sparrows, and swallows. The barn owl will occasionally fall prey to a great horned owl.