Barn owl tyto alba, hunting across a field, Northumberland

Barn owls hunting

Barn owls are mainly nocturnal, but may hunt before dusk and around dawn when feeding young and in daylight in winter.

How they eat

Prey is normally swallowed whole, with indigestible parts (fur, bones, teeth, feathers etc) regurgitated in large, smooth, blackish pellets, which accumulate at traditional nesting and roosting sites. Barn owls often hunt from exposed perches (eg fence-posts), but also in low flight. They have exceptional hearing and can find prey by sound alone.

Barn owl

What they eat

In Britain and Ireland, rodents comprise about 90 per cent of their prey, especially short-tailed voles, followed by wood mice and brown rats, but there are regional and seasonal variations.

Barn owl Tyto alba, perched in a window, United Kingdom