Delaware Barn Owls

Barn Owls in Delaware

Delaware is a perfect example of how each state seems to have its own dynamic in terms of barn owl populations. Biologist Wayne Lehman, Division

Barn owls most common along the coast

Barn owls most common along Delaware Bay

of Fish and Wildlife, reports that barn owls are found primarily along the coastal salt marshes where their numbers are excellent. He attributes nest boxes to being responsible for a good percentage of successful breeding sites. In the rest of the state, dense human populations, and the relatively sterile environments of soy, corn, and potatoes tend to keep barn owl numbers low.

Plenty of research on barn owls in Delaware has been conducted. Since 1996, Delaware biologists have banded 618 barn owls, including young from 135 nests. In addition, they have captured banded birds from as far away as Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Maryland, and birds banded in Delaware have been captured regularly in New Jersey. So, the population of barn owls moves around dynamically, particularly in the fall and spring.

A companion study to the Delaware Fish and Wildlife is being conducted by the Barn Owl Research Foundation across the Delaware River in New Jersey, underway since 1980.

Delaware's salt marshes hold good populations

Delaware’s salt marshes hold good populations

Despite low owl numbers in the rest of the state, residents who live amid good habitat – hayfields, grasslands, and marsh – would be contributing to the conservation of barn owls by installing nest boxes.

Knowing where barn owls are living is of great interest to researchers. If you see a barn owl in Delaware let Jean Woods know so she can add this data to Delaware’s Breeding Bird Atlas. Woods is the curator of birds for the Delaware Museum of Natural History. Contact her at 658-9111, ext. 314 or via email at

Arkansas Barn Owls

Arkansas Topo Map

Barn Owls most common in the green lower altitudes

Barn Owls in Arkansas

Barn owls breed throughout Arkansas. They are most common in the wet agricultural regions of the Mississippi delta in the eastern third of the state. Arkansas grows more rice than any other state in the nation, primarily in the eastern third. Not only is rice good for ducks, it is also good for barn owls. In rice fields they eat primarily cotton rats and rice marsh rats that cause large scale damage to grain crops.

Good populations also thrive in in the flat fertile farmland of the Arkansas River Valley that lies between the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains in the west-central part of the state, and in the Red River Valley in the southwestern counties. The mountainous regions of Arkansas contain the least numbers. Researcher David Clark is asking people to report known barn owl roosts in mountainous Northwest Arkansas. He can be contacted at (501) 590-9559 or by e-mail at

Karen Rowe, biologist for Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, reports “Barn owls in Arkansas nest in old metal grain bins, buildings with grain driers, combines parked in sheds, deer blinds, you name it.” Eggs are usually laid between February and June.

Analysis of 338 pellets from the Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge in western Arkansas revealed 46.8% cotton rats, 14.2% woodland voles, and 13% marsh rice rats. A smaller sample from eastern Arkansas showed bog lemmings, cotton rats, and voles consumed in that order. However, keep in mind that barn owls will prey upon whatever nocturnal rodent is most prevalent locally.


Post Model Barn Owl Box

Though barn owl numbers are good in many areas, the barn owl is still considered a species of concern here, and residents are encouraged to erect nest boxes to help with their numbers since often the limiting factor to their success is the availability of suitable nesting sites. The rice fields, vineyards, orchards, and row crop farmers of Arkansas could well benefit from nest box programs erected to help reduce rodent pressure on their crops.

Arizona Barn Owls

Barn Owls in Arizona

Common in the entire state, save the northwestern counties of Cococino, Navajo, and Apache, and northern Gila and Greenlee Counties. The high mountains that run in a sharp arc from northern Cococino County down through Navaho, Apache, and Greenlee Counties roughly divide the rather poor populations of the northeastern third of the state from the remaining areas where barn owl populations are excellent. The mountains themselves are virtually bereft of breeding pairs.

Reported nests of Arizona Barn Owls

Reported nests of Arizona Barn Owls

Biologist Troy McCormick of Arizona Game & Fish who contributed to the Arizona Breeding Bird Atlas says they are common in suburban areas and often nest in palm trees. Although no pellet studies have been done yet, he suspects kangaroo and cotton rats in the deserts, and roof and Norwegian rats in the suburbs. People in suburbs often request boxes because they are forced by ordinance to remove dead palm fronds (where they nest). They also nest underground in abandoned copper, silver, and gold mines, under bridges, in stream and drainage banks, and hay stacks. He would not expect them above 6000 to 7000 feet. However, plenty of the altitudes below that have grassy plains, and barn owls are common in the wheat and vegetable farms of the valleys.

Barn Owl Breeding Season in Arizona

Most of Arizona’s Barn Owls are year-round residents but will make local movements during the winter. The birds are generally on their breeding grounds by late winter, and courtship activities such as chasing flights begin at this time. Egg dates in Arizona range from early February to early May. The earliest Barn Owl nest located during the atlas period contained eggs on 10 April. Atlas data suggest that the peak breeding period statewide is from late April through late May. The latest confirmation was a nest with young found on July 24.


Pole model nest box by the Barn Owl Box Co

They readily use nest boxes where provided, and in Arizona cities and rural communities they will often nest on the dead fronds of untrimmed palms and on the debris collected on branches in tall tamarisks.

Given the good populations being sustained by various natural nesting sites such as cliffs, mines, palms, and tamarisks, attracting barn owls in most of Arizona is easy by installing nest boxes. As our studies have shown, dense populations can also be attracted to areas with high numbers of rodents, especially agricultural regions.

Alabama Barn Owls

Barn Owls in Alabama

Barn owls raise large numbers of young

Barn owls raise large numbers of young

Barn owl populations are excellent throughout the state. With high hay and cattle production in most counties, and salt-water marshes along the coast, barn owls are afforded excellent habitat. Hay and wheat fields are common, with heavy concentrations in the north and the southeast portions of the state. As open field hunters, barn owls will not be expected in the forested areas, however they will settle in cleared areas within forest. They are present in all 67 counties

Their greatest limiting factor is availability of nesting sites. For this reason they are often discovered by hunters nesting in deer blinds. Unable to find hollow trees or barns, barn owls in Alabama enter the woods and seek out the hunting platforms to lay their eggs.

The Alabama Wildlife Center


The Pole Model from the Barn Owl Box Co.

The Alabama Wildlife Center reports a rush of baby owls each spring during deer hunting season. Hunters are often sympathetic to the young owls, despite the ferocious hissing and bill snapping that startled baby owls emit. Usually the wildlife center attempts to relocate the entire family by installing a nest box near the blind and moving the young in hopes that the adults will continue caring for them in the new location.

The non-profit Alabama Wildlife Center helps rehabilitate and rescue thousands of animals and birds every year. To report abandoned, endangered or injured wildlife, or for help relocating barn owls, the center’s hotline is 205-621-3333. Visit online at

The barn owl is one of four commonly seen owls in Alabama. The great horned, screech, and barred owls all live in good numbers here. The burrowing owl, more common in Florida, is rarely seen. The snowy owl is a rare accidental, as are the long eared and the short-eared owl.

Attracting Barn Owls in Alabama

Alabama’s robust population of barn owls makes the state an excellent place to install a nest box. The barn owl has been shown to consume large

Marshlands provide excellent habitat

Marshlands provide excellent habitat

numbers of voles (meadow mice) in hay and grain fields, cotton rats in sugar cane, and marsh rice rats in rice fields. Farmers of these crops can benefit greatly through using nest boxes in enough numbers to take out large numbers of rodent pests.