The Barn Owl (Tyto alba) is the most widely distributed species of owl, and one of the most widespread of all birds. It is also referred to as Common Barn Owl, to distinguish it from other species in the barn-owl family Tytonidae. These form one of two main lineages of living owls, the other being the typical owls (Strigidae). T. alba is found almost anywhere in the world except polar and desert regions, Asia north of the Alpide belt, most of Indonesia, and the Pacific islands.
It is known by many other names, which may refer to the appearance, call, habitat or the eerie, silent flight: White Owl, Silver Owl, Demon Owl, Ghost Owl, Death Owl, Night Owl, Rat Owl, Church Owl, Cave Owl, Stone Owl, Monkey-faced Owl, Hissing Owl, Hobgoblin or Hobby Owl, Dobby Owl, Golden Owl, Scritch Owl, Screech Owl, Straw Owl, Barnyard Owl and Delicate Owl. “Golden Owl” might also refer to the related Golden Masked Owl (T. aurantia). “Hissing Owl” and, particularly in the USA, “screech owl” refer to the piercing calls of these birds, but the latter term usually refers to typical owls of the genus Megascops. The scientific name, established by G.A. Scopoli in 1769, literally means “white owl”, from the onomatopoetic Ancient Greek tyto (τυτο) for an owl—compare English "hooter"—and Latin alba, “white”.
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