Kansas Barn Owls

Barn Owls in Kansas

Kansas grasslands provide excellent barn owl habitat

Kansas grasslands provide excellent barn owl habitat

Kansas has abundant good habitat for barn owls including prairie, pasture, hayfields, river valleys, and scrublands, all with good supplies of food in the form of voles, mice, and kangaroo rats. Barn owls are present in every county, and anywhere they can find barns, outbuildings, abandoned houses, holes in cliffs, and nest boxes, they colonize very quickly. The main problem in Kansas is that suitable nesting sites in much of this good habitat are very scarce. Grasslands and hayfields stretch for miles without good nesting places.

Residents who put up nest boxes are often rewarded very quickly by barn owls taking up residence.

Barn owls both find and dig nest holes along the Cimarron River

Barn owls both find and dig nest holes along the Cimarron River

Max Thompson, a well-known birder and author of bird books of Kansas, agrees that a lack of nesting sites keeps barn owl populations lower than they could be. He does say that barn owls are common along the Cimarron River in the southwestern part of the state, particularly Morton County, where they find or even dig hollows in the clay and rock banks. This would indicate that anywhere in Kansas where high banks or cliffs border river valleys, barn owls will be present in good numbers. Both the Cimarron and the Arkansas River systems are comprised of many such tributaries.

Likewise, nest boxes should meet with good success in the state, since barn owls are always on the lookout for suitable breeding sites.