The Barn Owl is on the Wisconsin Endangered species list. It is important that Milwaukeeans are aware that these medium sized owls can eat one and a half times their weight, mice being their primary food, every day.
Their distinctive heart-shaped head hides their earholes that allows them to hear their prey in the dark. They are silent flyers and seldom seen by humans. Southern Wisconsin is the northern border of their range.
They hunt the marginal areas of unplanted fields, along fence lines and wetlands. These habitats are slowly vanishing in southern Wisconsin.
They live primarily in barns, thus their name, in the hollow of dead trees and abandoned building. Old barns are being torn down and replaced by windowless structures or residential developments, dead trees are being cleared and old buildings are being raised replaced by strip centers, etc. Thus these birds are losing their habitat.
This results in the lack of shelter during the cold Wisconsin winters. These birds have little fat, live only a few years and the loss of hunting areas reduce the incidence of food thus results in the loss of the bird.
While Milwaukeeans hike the trails of the County or are vacationing around the state, they are asked to report any sightings to the Wisconsin Humane Society, the United States Geological Survey or the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.