Prepared by the Ontario Barn Owl Recovery Team

Canada, two distinct populations of the Barn Owl (Tyto alba) are recognized: an eastern population (Ontario) and a western population (British Columbia). The eastern population is designated as endangered by COSEWIC and is listed as such in Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA). This recovery strategy focuses on the eastern population of the Barn Owl, which is provincially designated as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, 2007.

In Ontario, the eastern population of the Barn Owl is at the northernmost limit of its North American range. Habitat loss is considered the major reason for the Barn Owl’s decline in Canada; however, harsh winters, predation, road mortality and use of rodenticides may have also affected populations. The eastern population is particularly at risk due to historic and ongoing losses of foraging habitat, resulting from agricultural intensification and urban sprawl along the north shore of Lake Erie. This population is also limited by poor adaptability to cold winter temperatures and high amounts of snowfall.

The goal of this recovery strategy is to conserve, protect and restore the eastern population of the Barn Owl and the grassland habitat it depends on in Ontario. The following objectives are key elements of achieving this goal over the next five years:

  1. Assist with the assessment of the status of the Barn Owl population in Ontario by providing information to the Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario (COSSARO) on current distribution, abundance and trends.
  2. Increase availability of nest sites.
  3. Identify, protect, restore and improve conservation of suitable habitat and its functionality.
  4. Develop public awareness and support for Barn Owls and grassland habitat.

This recovery strategy recommends that nesting sites and structures, regularly used roosting sites, and foraging areas used by nesting pairs in the rearing of young be considered as areas for inclusion within a habitat regulation, due to their significance to the survival and recovery of the species in Ontario.