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Common barn owl (Tyto alba).—Karl Maslowski/Photo Researchers
Any of several species of nocturnal birds of prey (genus Tyto), sometimes called monkey-faced owls because of their heart-shaped facial disk and absence of ear tufts. Barn owls are about 12–16 in. (30–40 cm) long, white to gray or yellowish to brownish orange. Their dark eyes are smaller than those of other owls. They hunt mainly small rodents, often on cultivated land, and nest in hollow trees, buildings, towers, and old hawk nests. The common barn owl is found worldwide except in Antarctica and Micronesia. Other species occur only in the Old World.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on barn owl, visit Britannica.com.