The Barn Owl (Tyto Alba) is the commonest and most widely distributed nocturnal raptor in the East of Crete. They reach 30 to 40 cm long with a wingspan of 76 cm. It is found from sea level up to altitudes of 1 Kilometre, mainly in agriculture land and villages. Its a medium-sized, pale-coloured owl with long wings and a short, squarish tail. It often becomes active shortly before dusk and can sometimes be seen during the day.
In East Crete they are often seen in quit places outside the villages during late evening and at night. Like most owls, the barn owl flies very silently. Barn owls specialise hunting in complete darkness on animals living on the ground and nearly all of their food consists of small mammals which they locate by sound, their hearing being very acute.
Barn owls mate for life unless one of the pair gets killed, when a new pair bond may be formed. Breeding takes place at varying times of year according to locality, with a clutch, averaging about four eggs, being laid in a nest in a hollow tree, old building, ruins, chimneys, churches, barns or in one of the many cliffs in the East off Crete. The female does all the incubation, and she and the young chicks are reliant on the male for food.
Chimney with Barn Owls in Lagada, East Crete.