Georgia Barn Owls

Barn Owls in Georgia

iStock_000020901530MediumBarn owls live in good numbers in the agricultural regions of the northwestern northeastern, and southwestern agricultural regions, as well as along the marshes and riverine systems of the coast. They number fewer in the mainly forested regions of the coastal plain and the belt of forest that runs diagonally through the center of the state, and are rare to non-existent in the mountains of the northeastern corner. (See the range map below.)

Dark blue = Abundant; Light Blue = Common; Green = Uncommon; White = Rare

Dark blue = Abundant; Light Blue = Common; Green = Uncommon; White = Rare

One prey study, conducted in the Piedmont Region (foothills), showed that cotton rats comprised over 60% of prey items, with least shrews and voles coming in second and third. Surprisingly, in a coastal plain site, shrews were the most common prey. It should be expected that along the coast, marsh rice rats are likely the primary prey, and that in many grasslands, the vole is the most prevalent item.

The numerous corn, cotton, and tobacco farms of the state are poor habitats for barn owls as well as other wildlife, whereas poultry, cattle, hay, pastures, and wetlands provide good to excellent habitat.

Georgia hay farms provide excellent barn owl habitat

Georgia hay farms provide excellent barn owl habitat

There are no specific conservation efforts for the barn owl in Georgia, however the Bobwhite Quail Initiative (BQI), established in 1999 to bring back large numbers of bobwhite, encourages and advises landowners and farmers on establishing field borders, hedgerows, and grasslands, all of which also benefit barn owl numbers.