Barn Owl

Barn Owl by James Beck
© James Beck
Tyto Alba
The Barn Owl, or "monkey-faced owl" as it is often called, occurs in two phases, a yellow or buffy-breasted phase and one in which white predominates below. The latter color variation has often been the basis for erroneous local reports of the Snowy Owl, a giant-sized, white owl of the Arctic regions that sometimes spreads southward in winter over parts of the United States. The best distinguishing features of the Barn Owl are its heart-shaped facial disc, its extraordinarily long legs, and its hissing call note that sounds like escaping steam.
It is a common permanent resident that frequently nests in barns, attics, and churches steeples, sometimes in hollow trees, and rarely in holes in the ground. The eggs are three to five in number and are white in color, like the eggs of most species that nest in the dark. The laying habits of Barn Owls are unlike those of most birds, which generally do not commence incubation until all eggs in a clutch are laid and thereby insure that all eggs will hatch more or less simultaneously. If they did otherwise, birds such as the Bobwhite that lay large clutches would have young hatching and leaving the nest over a two-week period, and the problems of parental care would be terrifically compounded. Barn Owls, however, begin to incubate as soon as the first egg is laid, and for this reason their young sometimes vary immensely in size. --George H. Lowery, Jr., 1974, Louisiana Birds

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