Some call it "ghost bird." Others have named it "demon bird." In fact, colloquial names abound for the widespread Barn Owl (Tyto alba). Found on every continent except Antarctica, and with about 30 subspecies filling its range, the majestic Barn Owl has not always been looked upon favorably. Click around the map below to find out the cultural myths this owl has inspired.
- Species of Special Concern
Despite their bad reputation in folklore, Barn Owls do a lot of good. Many farmers forge beneficial relationships with Barn Owls, as a single owl family can consume approximately 3,000 rodents a year. The majority of their diet is gophers, and they also eat mice, voles, moles, and rats. In exchange for a nest box, they will keep fields clear of rodents, reduce crop damage and loss, and eliminate the need to put out rodenticide. Seeing a Barn Owl is simply a good sign that the ecosystem is healthy and resilient. So remember, Barn Owls are only a scary bird if you’re a mouse!