New York Natural Heritage Program
Barn Owl
Tyto alba (Scopoli, 1769)

Threats [-]
While one of the main reasons why Barn Owl populations are unstable in New York is due to New York generally being the northern limits of its range, there are several other factors that may affect populations in the state. Barn Owls are dependent on open, grassy habitat where small mammal populations are fairly abundant. In New York, farmland provides most of the suitable habitat for this species. However, farmland is decreasing statewide and many of the remaining farms are replacing hayfields with row crops. In addition, Barn Owls are known to use farm structures for roosting. Screening has been placed in the openings of these farm structures to exclude Rock Pigeons thereby excluding Barn Owls. Secondary poisoning may also happen in more populated areas as people try to control rodent populations. Automotive collisions are also a threat (King 2005).

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices [-]
It appears that Barn Owl breeding success in New York is heavily dependent on the placement of nest boxes in suitable habitat. Each nesting pair needs approximately 0.25 square miles of suitable habitat surrounding a nest box. Preservation and expansion of dense grass foraging habitats are also important. Grassland habitats can also be managed by light grazing or mowing to maintain the habitat without altering dense ground cover used by small mammals (NatureServe 2004). Another potential management tool is taking advantage of Landowner Incentive Programs to protect grassland habitats.

Research Needs [-]
It would be valuable to determine the feasibility of using captive-raised Barn Owls to restore local populations (King 2005).