The barn owl is the most widely distributed species of owl, and one of the most widespread of all birds. It is also referred to as the common barn owl, to distinguish it from other species in its family. Barn owls specialise in hunting animals on the ground and nearly all of their food consists of small mammals which they locate by sound, their hearing being very acute.
The barn owl is a medium-sized, pale-coloured owl with long wings and a short, squarish tail. The pale face with its heart shape and black eyes give the flying bird a distinctive appearance, like a flat mask with oversized, oblique black eyeslits, the ridge of feathers above the bill somewhat resembling a nose.
Like most owls, the barn owl is nocturnal, relying on its acute sense of hearing when hunting in complete darkness. It often becomes active shortly before dusk and can sometimes be seen during the day when relocating from one roosting site to another.