Barn Owl Western population
Scientific Name: Tyto alba
Taxonomy Group: Birds
Range: British Columbia
Last COSEWIC Assessment: November 2010
Last COSEWIC Designation: Threatened
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Special Concern
Image of Barn Owl
The Barn Owl is a medium sized, buffy-coloured owl with a distinctive heart-shaped facial disk. The head is rather large and lacks ear tufts. The upper parts are mainly buffy; the under parts are tawny to white, with fine black spots or speckles.
Distribution and Population
In the Western Hemisphere, the Barn Owl is found from extreme southern Canada to southern South America and the West Indies. In Canada, the Barn Owl is at the northern limit of its range, and breeds only locally in southern British Columbia, southern Ontario, and possibly in southern Quebec. Spring transients or summer visitors are occasionally seen in the southern Prairie provinces. The main Canadian population is in British Columbia, where the owl has been reported as far north as Shuswap Lake, and as far east as Hope. The Barn Owl was first recorded in the province in 1909. Numbers increased from the 1940s to the 1980s as a result of mild winters and expansion of suitable agricultural habitat. A population estimate in 1987 indicated there were 4 to 6 pairs of Barn Owls in Ontario. Numbers are predicted to decline because of agricultural intensification and urban development.
Barn Owls prefer low-elevation, open country, where their small rodent prey are more abundant. In Canada, they are often associated with agricultural lands, especially pasture. Nests are located in buildings, hollow trees, and cavities in cliffs. In Canada, most nests are found on man-made structures, especially those which are abandoned or unused.
Most Barn Owls begin breeding in their second year, although it is possible for them to breed towards the end of their first year. These owls are usually solitary nesters, but when food production or site availability are favorable, they will form loose colonies. They don't make a nest, but will use a site year after year, such that it accumulates debris. The size of the clutch (usually 5-8 white eggs), the number of broods in a year, and other reproductive factors are linked to the availability of food, mainly small mammals. Only the female incubates the eggs, but both parents feed the young. Barn Owls will remain in B.C. throughout the year, if the food supply is adequate.
The main factor limiting the Barn Owl is the loss of habitat and of prey species, mainly to urbanization. Barn Owls are also susceptible to cold, and severe winters can reduce the population size. Pesticides and chemicals in the environment can cause reproductive problems and mortalities; the use of chemicals to kill rodents has led to the poisoning of many Barn Owls.
Federal ProtectionThe Barn Owl, Western population, is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.
The Barn Owl Western population is protected by the British Columbia Wildlife Act. Under this Act, it is prohibited to kill, harm, or collect adults and eggs, or to destroy active nesting sites.
Provincial and Territorial Protection
PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.
5 record(s) found.
- COSEWIC Status Reports (1 record(s) found.)
- Response Statements (1 record(s) found.)
- COSEWIC Annual Reports (1 record(s) found.)
- Consultation Documents (1 record(s) found.)
- Recovery Document Posting Plans (1 record(s) found.)
COSEWIC Status Reports
COSEWIC Annual Reports
Recovery Document Posting Plans
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