Species Profile: American Barn Owl


American Barn Owls, known for their heart-shaped faces and stunning white feathers, fulfill an important ecological niche as they gracefully fly across the grasslands, marshes, and agricultural landscapes of North America. These beautiful birds are expert hunters, preying on mice, rats, and other small mammals. Their ability to control pests make them a valuable asset to farmers, providing a natural and highly effective solution.

During the 20th century, barn owl populations in the United States faced considerable challenges due to various factors, including the use of DDT, rapid urbanization, and shifts in agricultural practices. These pressures had a significant impact on their numbers and habitats.

In the 1980s, World Bird Sanctuary began breeding American barn owls, which was on the brink of extinction in Missouri. Through dedicated captive breeding and release efforts, as well as the placement of nest boxes in suitable habitats, the population made a remarkable comeback. In 2016, we celebrated the release of the 1,000th American barn owl hatched in our captive breeding program. Today, this species is off the endangered species list, and has at least one wild nesting pair in each county across Missouri!

As exciting as this success story is, we remember that our job is never complete. One of the biggest threats facing barn owls today is the use of rodent poison. When an owl captures a poisoned rodent, the poison is equally deadly to the owl. When seeking rodent control solutions for your home, we always advise selecting snap traps or other non-poison and non-glue methods.

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