The Barn Owl is able to hunt at night in almost total darkness due to it’s excellent hearing which allows it to locate moving prey rustling in open grassy countryside. This combined with soundless flight make it the perfect nocturnal hunter. Its large wings give it a buoyant moth-like flight, as it quarters for prey very close to the ground. Sometimes a barn owl will hover momentarily before plunging down onto its prey talons ready for the kill which is usually swallowed whole.
Research has shown that Barn Owls have a preference for the short tailed vole, or field vole as it is often called and this is the reason why the habitat is so important – the right habitat for this vole is prime hunting ground for barn owls. Shrews and wood mice are also commonly taken. House mice, young rats, sparrows and starlings are caught too. In some areas frogs constitute a significant part of the diet in spring. A family of two adults and their young owlets may consume over 1,000 rodents during their three-month nesting period. No wonder the barn owl is often referred to as a farmers friend.