The barn owl is a pale-faced, long-winged and long-legged owl with a short tail. When seen in flight, it's flat, heart-shaped white face and black eyes can look like a mask. Unlike the calls made by other owls, it does not "hoo hoo" but rather has a shrieking scream or a shrill twitter. Learn more at this week's sites.
The Barn Owl Trust is a British conservation group dedicated to reversing the decline of "one of the most beautiful birds on earth." Their site is chock full of articles, web cams, photos to download as computer wallpaper, and fast facts ("Barn Owls hunt at night, and although they have very good eyesight, they rely mostly on their sense of hearing.") Advice on building a nest box is filed under "Information & Downloads." For coloring pages and craft projects, look for the kids section under "About the Barn Owl."
"Barn owls are one of the world's most common birds, especially in temperate climates - yet many of us have never seen one of these awesome raptors because they live by night." Although the primary purpose of this site is to sell a DVD, there is plenty of free information here, as well as snippets of the video to enjoy. Visit for barn owl facts ("A barn owl is about the size of a small cat, but only weighs a pound."), and an excellent explanation of how the barn owl hunts, what he eats and how much he eats.
Don't have an owl dropping pellets in your backyard for you? No worries! You can perform a virtual pellet dissection online at KidWings. Start with the great Pellet Information section ("Are Pellets Important?") then move on to read the directions about how to perform the virtual pellet dissection. Then, last but certainly not least, is the actual Virtual Pellet Dissection. Click, click, enjoy! Other worthwhile sections of the site are the Teacher Materials and the Owl Crossword and Word Search listed under Just for Fun.
Molly and McGee are two barn owls that live in a nest box that transmits live video to the Internet. Their four owlets were born in March, and their live video stream has captured millions of viewers. This blog will point you to the Ustream video, and also provide lots of background information about barn owls in general, and this pair in particular. I was fascinated by the fact that their nest box sat empty for two years before McGee and Molly decided to settle down there and raise a family.
This Department of Agriculture flyer includes plans and instructions for building a plywood backyard nest box for barn owls. "Barn owls do not build nests but lay eggs in holes in rotted trees, rocky cliffs, or bluffs. Alternatively, they may use structures with an appropriate cavity, including barns, silos, and abandoned buildings. You can encourage barn owls by building a nesting box and by establishing perching sites."