Barn-owls (family Tytonidae) are one of the two families of owls, the other being the typical owls, Strigidae. They are medium to large sized owls with large heads and characteristic heart-shaped faces. They have long, strong legs with powerful talons. They also differ from Strigidae in structural details relating in particular to the sternum and feet.
The barn-owls' main characteristic is the heart-shaped facial disc, formed by stiff feathers which serve to amplify and locate the source of sounds when hunting. Further adaptations in the wing feathers eliminate sound caused by flying, aiding both the hearing of the owl listening for hidden prey and keeping the prey unaware of the owl. Barn-owls overall are darker on the back than the front, usually an orange-brown colour, the front being a paler version of the back or mottled, although there is considerable variation even amongst species.