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Barn Owls, Tyto alba
Photo © 2005 Jim Jung and licensors.
All rights reserved.

Barn Owls

Tyto alba

Well, if there were any barns left they would. Barn Owls are currently on the endangered species list in Illinois and elsewhere because since the 1950's their populations have plummeted like a rock. It's believed that this is due to changing farming practices and pesticide use.

Back in the Good Old Days when farmers still raised mixed crops of poultry, cattle, pigs and grain barns were often built with a little room just for the owls near the roof peak. There they would raise their families and patrol the barnyard and neighboring fields devouring any rodents they found. A happy situation for all concerned (except the mice, of course).

However the introduction of rodenticides like Warfarin and the rise of industrial farming - where farmers concentrated on just one crop and stored it off-farm at the local grain elevator - spelled doom for the local barn owls. The advent of steel sided pole barns in the 60's and 70's was the final nail in the coffin. Between eating poisoned mice and having nowhere to live barn owl populations crashed.

Today sighting a Barn Owl is a rare event. Which is unfortunate since this owl species is the one with the closest ties to our own.

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The information on this page is tailored to Southern Illinois, Southwest Indiana, Western Kentucky, and Southeast Missouri

Copyright © 2005 Jim Jung. All rights reserved.
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