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Tyto alba (Taxonomy: Phylum Chordata / Sub Phylum Vertebrata / Class Aves / Order Strigiformes / Family Tytonidae / Genus Tyto)
The most up-to-date figures for the UK Barn Owl population come from 32 monitoring schemes checking 6,058 nest sites. Between them, they recorded 1,558 active nests. This report shows that the number of nesting pairs in the UK in 2016 was 6% below the all-years average and the average number of young in the nest was 7% below. The full report can be found here: https://www.barnowltrust.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/State-of-the-UK-Barn-Owl-population-–-2016.pdf
The barn owl genome contains 46 pairs of chromosomes and its size is 1.6 Gigabases. A draft version of the genome has been reported by Gilbert, M, P and colleagues (GigaScience Database (2014): Genomic data of the Barn owl (Tyto alba); http://gigadb.org/dataset/101039), and was produced as part of the Avian Phylogenomics Project. DNA was collected from a female breed in the laboratory of Eric Knudsen at Stanford, USA, and the genome was sequenced to a depth of approximately 27X.
A reptile from 320 million years ago
I should be sequenced because...: The genome of the Barn Owl will help us discover how they hear so well and how they fly so silently.
Tell me an owl joke! “What is a Barn Owl’s favourite subject at school? Owlgebra!”
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Soft, stealthy, auricular
What's your favourite food?
I like to eat small mammals, and particularly field voles, common shrews and wood mice. Yum! I will typically eat 3-4 prey items a night, that’s 1,460 per year! During the breeding season, I will try to find the same for each owlet as well, and this works out to almost 4,000 prey items a year, which is really hard work! I eat my prey whole but cannot digest fur or bone, which is regurgitated in the form of a pellet. Scientists collect these pellets to study what I like to eat!
What's your family life like?
Sometimes the babies feed each other in the nest, which is very unusual for birds.
Are you endangered or threatened by anything?
A lot of us are killed by cars.
What's the best thing about you/interesting fact?
1. Barn Owls screech – they never hoot (that’s Tawny Owls). 2. Barn Owls have very long legs, toes and talons to help them to catch prey hidden under long grass. 3. Barn Owls usually hunt at night – even in total darkness they can find the smallest vole using their super-sensitive hearing. 4. Barn Owls’ large eyes are very sensitive too – they can quickly spot a mouse moving in a very gloomy barn. 5. Barn Owl feathers are super soft – this helps them to hunt silently, but they are not very water