Where Do Barn Owls Live?
States & Best Hiding Spots!

Are you wondering where this amazing ghostly-looking bird lives? They are pretty common across the world. Keep on reading to find out more.

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Iñigo Navarro

October 10, 2021

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What’s This Post About?

The barn owl is the most common and widely distributed species of owl in the world. However, the appearance of this owl is unusual. It has a white face, chest, and belly with an irregular disposition of dusty grey on its rust-colored wings.

Surprisingly, the barn owl has several species. Still, the most abundant in the United States is the American barn owl ‘Tyto furcata’ because the owl has a light-colored plumage, making it more susceptible to predation and attacks.

They inhabit the regions of North America, South America, Australia, Europe, Africa, India, and Southeast Asia. Barn owls are found in areas where there are deserts, wetlands, grasslands, forests, farms, fields, and urban regions, and basalt cliffs.


What Country Are Barn Owls Native To?

Barn owls are believed to be originated in tall cliffs of the European region, which is one of the reasons why these birds prefer upright walls of man-made buildings and barns over trees and other vegetation. They are the most widespread species of owls found in almost every continent except Antarctica.

Barn owls are present in Central and South America, America, Spain, Sweden, and Europe.


There are about thirty-five sub-species of the Barn Owl found across the globe.

Barn Owl State Wise Distribution

The Barn Owl is found in abundance in several states, whereas they are considered an endangered species in other states. To restore the barn owl population, some states have taken the initiative to install bird boxes to promote their nesting and breeding within the States.


Barn Owls are abundant across almost all the states in the U.S except for a few where the species is listed as either endangered or of special concern. As a result, some states experience the loss of barn owls while others have them in abundance.

If you’re a bird watcher and want to see a barn owl flying around or maybe hiding away in the corner during the night, then there are some States where you can come across these beautiful birds.

There’s a high population of barn owls across the states of Washington, Oregon, Nevada, California, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland.

If you’re residing in one of these states, the probability is high that you might encounter barn owls, so keep an eye out.

On the other hand, there are states where there is a fair distribution of these species. These states include Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, West Virginia, New Hampshire, and Maine. Being a resident of one of these states, it’s safe to say that you might come across a barn owl if you look closely, especially during the night.

And then there are some states where the barn owl species are considered endangered or species of particular concern. These states include Montana, Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Illinois.



In some states, the population of barn owls has been restored through nest box programs like the Illinois Barn Owl Recovery Project.

If you live in one of the states mentioned above, you have a very low chance of sighting these birds as they are quite rare.

If you want to have a better idea of their population in every U.S state, then refer to the chart below to learn about the barn owl population in every State.

States Barn Owl Population
Alabama Abundant
Alaska Endangered
Arizona Abundant
Colorado Abundant
Connecticut Endangered
California Abundant
Florida Abundant
Georgia Abundant
Idaho Abundant
Delaware Abundant
Illinois Endangered
Hawaii Abundant
Indiana Endangered
Iowa Endangered
Kansas Abundant
Kentucky Endangered
Louisiana Abundant
Massachusetts Endangered
Maine Endangered
Maryland Abundant
Michigan Endangered
Mississippi Abundant
Minnesota Scattered
Missouri Endangered
Nebraska Abundant
Montana Abundant
Nevada Abundant
New Hampshire Abundant
New Jersey Endangered
New Mexico Abundant
New York Endangered
North Dakota Endangered
New Carolina Abundant
Ohio Scattered
Oklahoma Abundant
Oregon Abundant
Pennsylvania Scattered
Rhode Island Endangered
South Dakota Endangered
South Carolina Endangered
Tennessee Abundant
Utah Abundant
Vermont Endangered
Virginia Abundant
Washington Abundant
West Virginia Abundant
Wisconsin Endangered
Wyoming Abundant


Habitat of Barn Owls

Just like any other bird, barn owls are found only in areas that provide them with suitable living space; with that said, they mostly prefer inhabiting open farmlands, tussocks, abandoned barns and farms, areas where there is a water body nearby, sugar cane fields, and rough pastures.

Barn owls stay away from cities and do not prefer inhabiting them. However, it might look as though the barn owl is not abundant in most areas, but that’s not true.

They usually hide away and nestle in abandoned farms and barns in the area. It is a highly stealthy species that, unlike other owls, only call during mating season. Take note that the distribution of barn owls is highly dynamic due to the strong dispersion tendency in the juveniles.

Barn owls inhabit areas far away from dense populations, which provide them with a broad ground that they can use to hunt their prey—habitats like rough pastures, farming lands, fields, ditches, and grasslands.



The barn owl is as big as a house cat, except it is very lightweight, with its average weight falling between 224 to 710 grams.

But since most of the States are heavily urbanized, barn owls are often found around abandoned buildings, barns, farms, and on the outskirts of suburbs and villages.

What Do Barn Owls Need in Their Habitat?

Barn Owls are picky when it comes to the living conditions they need to inhabit a place. They prefer open grounds and fields with plentiful field voles and other small mammals that they prey on.

On top of that, tussock fields are their favorite. Basically, any area that provides them an open ground to easily spot and hunt their prey is ideal for them.


Barn owls swallow their prey whole along with their bones, teeth, and tail instead of biting it and tearing it into smaller bites.


Barn Owls are primarily found in places where water is abundant, so they nest close to water bodies as prey is likely to be more plenteous. They also stay away from areas with high human activity. Therefore, they are a little challenging to come across.

This owl species need to stay toasty, for which they need temperatures close to 37 degrees celsius. But they’re known for their resilience and hardiness, which is why they can survive frigid weather quite easily.


Do Barn Owls Migrate?

Barn owls do not migrate, but some of them do, and that often occurs during the winter because they are forced to migrate towards the south when the cold becomes unbearable, and the food in their current habitat dries up.


Barn owls are year-round residents and do not migrate as the season changes. The weather transition is comfortable for them to live through, and even during the coldest months in the northern region, they do not migrate.


Unlike most birds, the barn owl is not territorial. Therefore, it does not get aggressive towards other bird species.

However, when their young are old enough to fly on their own, they tend to scatter away from the area where their nest is located. This is one of the reasons why barn owls are found in almost all the states across the U.S and are abundant in many other countries.


Do Barn Owls Survive in Captivity?

There’s a high chance for a barn owl to survive in captivity, not because they are not wild and can be tamed, but because they are provided with the right amount of care and attention, which prevents them from contracting certain diseases and viruses and possible predation.

Barn owls have been recorded to live a longer life in captivity. This reinforces the fact that barn owls, just like most other wild animals, can survive when held in captivity. The owl’s origin doesn’t matter, but you need to understand that barn owls cannot be tamed.


Keeping a captive owl changes quite a few things for the wild bird—from its hunting habits to its sociability, it all depends on the owl’s origin. Captive barn owls can be classified into three broad categories:

  1. Disabled barn owls
  2. Barn owls that their parents reared in captivity
  3. Hand-reared barn owls.

When in captivity, barn owls need a lot of care. For example, they cannot be stroked since their feathers are not designed to harm their natural waterproofing barrier. In addition, their strong feet and sharp talons can dig into the skin resulting in puncture wounds and severe scratches.


The barn owl does not make the hooting sound. Instead, it lets out dragged, harsh screeching sounds to communicate with others.

Their survival is guaranteed in captivity only if they’re provided with a large aviary to accommodate them along with a suitable food supply, and the expenses to maintain both things are a lot, so a lot of consideration goes into the planning process.


Releasing a captive barn owl into the wild is punishable by a fine of $5,000 because it’s hard for captive birds to survive in the wild.


Keep Reading!

The Barn Owl is one of the most common birds found all over the world. Although their population shows a growing pattern, they are still scarce in most countries and states due to climatic and geographical conditions.

However, these downward-billed birds prefer inhabiting regions with a wide variety of open grasslands and fields, which they actively use to hunt down potential prey and small animals.

Although the barn owl is found across the U.S, some of the states where they occur in high populations are Washington, Oregon, Nevada, California, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland.

If you are an avid bird watcher and want to read more about astonishing birds like this one, you need to read this post about the rare albino owl with answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about them.

The Rare Albino Owl: FAQs of this Beautiful Bird! [4 Images]

An Albino Owl? Now that's something interesting to discover. Read this post to learn everything there is to know about these creatures.

Iñigo Navarro Picture

By Iñigo Navarro

Bird Watching USA

My name is Inigo and I'm the the founder of Bird Watching USA! I started Bird Watching with My father-in-law many years ago, and I've become an addict to watching these beautiful creatures. I've learnt so much over about bird watching over the years that I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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Iñigo Navarro Picture

Iñigo Navarro

Bird Watching USA

My name is Inigo and I'm the the founder of Bird Watching USA! I started Bird Watching with My father-in-law many years ago, and I've become an addict to watching these beautiful creatures. I've learnt so much over about bird watching over the years that I want to share with the world everything I know about them!



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