Lofty eavesdropping

Webcam lets viewers observe nesting barn owls

Posted on Jun 01 2016 in General, Outdoors

By Jack Spaulding

A barn owl has distinctive looks.

A barn owl has distinctive looks.

A show of companionship and survival is available to view live from an Indiana Department of Natural Resources webcam. The camera offers a glimpse into the lives of a barn owl pair raising chicks.

Barn owls are a rarity and a state-endangered species. The pair on the webcam has been living in a DNR-built nest box inside a metal pole barn in southern Indiana since 2009. The owls have nested every year since 2009.

Barn owls lay their eggs in April, with hatching occurring sometime in May. In 2013, the nest was one of only 18 known barn owl nests in the state. The goal of the webcam is to promote public interest in birds and raise awareness about efforts to support them.

Barn owls are known for their distinctive heart-shaped face, dark eyes and white to golden-brown feathers. They were once common in the Midwest, living in hollow trees and wooden barns, and hunting hayfields, idle grain fields, pastures and other grasslands for meadow voles. But many wooden barns are being torn down, and few modern farms offer the type of land a barn owl needs for hunting.

Indiana DNR’s Wildlife Diversity Program has been placing nest boxes for barn owls since 1984. The nest boxes, like the one the webcam owls use, give owls a safe place to raise their young.

The barn owl webcam viewing the nest can accommodate 20 viewers at a time. While much of the viewing can be monotonous as the birds groom themselves and hunker down in the shadows of their box in front of the tiny camera (“reality TV” at its most raw and real), patient viewers may be rewarded with some interesting glimpses of the birds’ comings and goings.

The barn owl is one of more than 750 animal species, including many rare and endangered animals, supported by the DNR’s Wildlife Diversity Program. WDP depends on donations to the DNR Nongame Fund. Individuals may donate by credit card on the DNR website, or you may give all or a portion of your state tax return to the fund by marking the appropriate box on your income tax form or when you file electronically.

Donations may also be made at

To watch the live webcam, go to

Jack Spaulding is a state outdoors writer and a consumer of RushShelby Energy living along the Flatrock River in Moscow. Readers with questions or comments can write to him in care of Electric Consumer, P.O. Box 24517, Indianapolis, IN 46224; or email