Barn owls making a comeback in Ohio

owl photo
(Farm and Dairy file photo)

COLUMBUS — Barn owls are making a comeback in Ohio, and more people every year have the pleasure of witnessing these beautiful birds, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

The ODNR Division of Wildlife is seeking reports from people who have seen barn owls. Reporting sightings of barn owls helps ODNR Division of Wildlife biologists estimate how many live in Ohio.
This information benefits conservation efforts by tracking where and how the owls live.

If people believe a barn owl is living near them, they are encouraged to call the ODNR Division of Wildlife at 800-WILDLIFE (945-3543) or email


This species is easily identified by its white, heart-shaped face, large black eyes and golden-brown and gray back. Adult barn owls communicate with shrieks and hissing-like calls, and the calls of young barn owls begging their parents for food are often heard on late summer nights.

Finding pellets is another indication that barn owls may be living nearby. Pellets are regurgitated bones and fur of their food.

Small rodents living in hayfields and pastures are a barn owl’s main food source. A pair of barn owls and their young can eat more than 1,000 rodents in a year.

Why barns?

As their name suggests, these birds find shelter in barns or other dark buildings, like silos. These buildings provide a safe place for them to rest during the day and to raise their young.

The ODNR Division of Wildlife has provided shelter for barn owls since 1988 by placing nest boxes on more than 400 barns.

Nest boxes provide an opportunity for them to nest in barns they could not otherwise enter.

This program has successfully increased barn owl populations in Ohio. The number of nests has increased from 19 in 1988 to more than 100 in 2012. Biologists believe many nest in areas other than these boxes.

Top 5 viewing sites:

Hay fields and pastures in:

  • Northeast Ross County
  • Southeast Pike County
  • Southwest Wayne County
  • Eastern Holmes County
  • Wetland edges at Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area, Holmes and Wayne counties


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  1. Nice article about the barn owl. Too bad the photo is a barred owl…… I just hope the photo was not submitted by ODNR with the article and simply added by the editor in an attempt to add “color” to the article. If it was supplied by ODNR their marketing/PR staff should have ran it past someone on staff who has the ability to identify Ohio’s native wildlife. Classic…..


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