Barn Owls and their many nicknames

Adult Barn Owl in flightAdult Barn Owl in flight – Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 500, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

Whenever I see Barn Owls flying during the day it is a delight because they are typically nocturnal. Barn Owls will fly during the day when they have a ravenous brood of chicks to feed and in winters when there is heavy snow on the ground because they have to work harder and longer to find enough prey to survive. This image was created last winter when there were harsh winter conditions.

Barn Owls have many nicknames which include monkey-faced owl, silver owl, white owl, delicate owl, golden owl, steeple owl, straw owl, barnyard owl, church owl, night owl, ghost owl, hobgoblin owl, screech owl, and death owl. That is a lot of nicknames and with some of the nicknames it is easy to see how they got them with others it is more elusive.

I prefer using the common name “Barn Owl” because that is most likely where I first saw one because I started my life out as a farmer’s daughter and saw plenty of barns.


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About Mia McPherson

I am a nature lover, wildlife watcher and a bird photographer. I first become serious about bird photography when I moved to Florida in 2004 and it wasn’t long before I was hooked (addicted is more like it). My move to the Salt Lake area of Utah was a great opportunity to continue observing their behavior and to pursue my passion for photographing birds.


  1. Pingback: Barn Owl Blur

  2. Mia, I love this image! I did not know Barn Owls had so many names! I am a farmer’s granddaughter and spent plenty of time around barns and barnyards myself but never saw a Barn Owl until I was grown up!

  3. Mia, awesome shot of the Barn owl. This is one bird that is still on my wish list. Great post!

    Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  4. It’s a beautiful image and an interesting post as as far as I know we only call them Barn Owls in Australia.

  5. Nice photo of this beautiful owl. I didn’t know they had so many nicknames — makes me glad we have books and a uniform system of naming species. I think I mentioned before that this is Steve Chindgren’s (falconer and Hogle Zoo Birdshow director) favorite owl. Nice to know I might see one someday in the wild, even in the daytime.
    I also enjoyed your post yesterday — but I’m very concerned about the death of so many Bald Eagles in our area.

  6. Ha! Hobgoblin Owl. I’ve never heard that, but it sure is a great name. I think they should be called Poltergeist Owl. They are fairly eerie birds, especially when you hear them scream. Great post Mia.

  7. Whatever the name, they have my heart. Gorgeous image, and thank you. Again.

  8. Beautiful image…love name “golden owl”…really fits these gorgeous birds. I hope this winter, which starts tomorrow, is easier on them.

  9. Gorgeous. Every feather is in place and in perfect alignment with every other one!

  10. SUPERB image, Mia. They are such beautiful birds.

  11. Oh, that’s nice Mia, great photo.

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