Barn Owls in Alabama
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 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 http://www.awrc.org.
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
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.