Owls are amazing creatures, famous for their nocturnal habits, silent flying, outstanding hearing abilities, expressive faces that can turn around up to 280 degrees with striking eyes.
Owls represent wisdom, intelligence, and mystery.
Owls are quite popular worldwide and have many superstitions and legends associated with them.
There are many different types of owls. This blog post will discuss some of these varieties in detail and provide interesting facts about each type.
The Different Types of Owls
Owls are divided into two families with more than 225 owl species in the world.
The Tytonidae family has heart-shaped faces while all the other owl species fall in the Strigidae family.
Due to their widespread presence in the world, different species of owls have similar common names.
To avoid confusion, it is better to learn about different species based on their scientific names to give them a proper identification.
Here in the US, the beautiful and mysterious Owls vary greatly, ranging from small to giant Owls.
Writing about every type is quite impossible.
Here I am listing for you some of the common species of Owls that are recognized worldwide and found across the United States.
Barn owls have a heart-shaped face and are found throughout the world except in Antarctica and some remote Islands.
In the United States and Canada, their population is an estimated 120,000.
They have a white body with brown feathers and blemishes. The eyes are dark in color while the mouth is light yellow. The claws are usually bronze or pale in color.
Their habitat includes tree fissures in forests, farmlands, fields, and deserts.
The Barn owl hunts at night and rests during the day. They have excellent hearing capabilities and can hunt their prey with the help of sound alone.
The food of Barn Owl includes rodents, frogs, small insects, and small mammals.
Barn Owls live to a maximum of two years and can lay around three to six eggs.
Long-eared Owls have ear tufts that are Feather clumps that resemble ears.
They are found quite easily in Europe, North America, and Asia. Their population in the US and Canada is around 140,000, with a decline in population trend of up to 91 percent in the recent decade.
These Owls are usually murky with a reddish-brown face, orange eyes, and quills in the bottom half of its body. Due to their body color, they camouflage well with the tree.
The Long-Eared Owls make a silent flight with their spectacular wings due to fringed edges that help to muffle the sound and become active at sunset.
Their habitat includes abandoned nests that are usually 30 feet high from the ground. They are found in all sorts of forests.
The Owls have a long lifespan living up to a maximum of 10 years. They lay four to five eggs during the breeding months.
The long-eared owls can be eaten up by raccoons, barred owls, and great horned owls.
Barred Owls are also called hoot Owls and have a brown-grey shade with colorless rail marks in the abdomen.
An estimate of their population across the U.S and Canada is found to be 3,200,000 with an increasing trend of their population.
The Barred Owls live in all sorts of forests in the hollow spaces of trees.
Barred Owls have an extensive appetite ranging from rats, small mammals, snakes, fish, frogs, bats, and smaller birds.
They lay two to four eggs during the breeding months from March to August.
The Barred Owls can be eaten up by the Great Horned Owl.
The Northern Hawk Owl
The Northern Hawk Owl is found in North America China Finland Sweden Norway and Central Asia.
There population estimate in the US and Canada is a hundred thousand
The Upper body of the Owl is made up of a brownish-grey shade with white marks on the skull. They also have deceptive eyes located at the back of their skull.
Northern Hawk Owls are found in boreal forests on open tree boughs.
Their feed includes frogs, rodents, fishes, and small birds. The female owl only up to 13 eggs in the breeding months that begin from April to May.
The population of the Burrowing Owl is gradually going down and it is in danger of extinction. They lay eggs on land that makes the eggs vulnerable to enemies.
They are mostly found in Mexico, Florida, Mississippi valley of America including Central and South America. The Owls migrate during the winter season towards Arkansas and Louisiana. The species has an estimated population of 1,100,000 in the United States and Canada.
As the name suggests, the Burrowing Owl live underground and hunt during the day on the ground. They are also active at nightfall and sunrise.
They can be found in fields and other grasslands.
The Burrowing Owl has a spherical face with a brownish shade with white bands across the cheeks. The rear, wingspan, and skull are shaded in a bronze color. The abdomen and chest display a pale yellow color.
Their food includes small birds, mice, rats, squirrels, rabbits, beetles, and grasshoppers.
The Burrowing Owls can be eaten up by bigger owls, hawks, snakes, skunks, and ferrets.
The females are darker compared to makes and can lay up to nine eggs during the breeding months from March to April.
Northern Saw-Whet Owl
The Northern Saw-whet Owl is so-called as one of its sounds is similar to the sound of a saw being sharpened.
The population estimate of the Owl across the United States and Canada is 2,000,000.
Their habitat includes the United States, Canada, Prince Edward islands, various parts of Mexico, Quebec, Ohio river valley, and New Brunswick.
The Northern Saw-whet Owl has big yellow eyes encircled in a white pattern along with a huge skull. The whole body has brownish greyish /reddish feathers with marks at the rear.
They are found across a wide forest range and become active at twilight. They eat small mammals, fish, rodents, younger birds, frogs, squirrels.
The Owls also store the food if the prey is found in abundance.
These Owls can be food for bigger Owls and large size Hawks.
The Northern Whet Saw Owl breeds in March and April and can lay up to seven eggs.
Eurasian Eagle Owl
The Eurasian Eagle Owls are the weightiest among all the Owls of the World.
They can be easily spotted in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia.
They are made up of fluffy material of dark brown and pale yellow shades in the upper half body.
The Eurasian Eagle Owl is active at twilight. Their food includes small Owls, fishes, snakes, deer, rabbits, other birds, and rats.
The Owls have a wide range of habitats from deserts, forests, woodlands and are usually found in rock crevices and cave entrances.
The Eurasian Eagle Owl can lay up to four white eggs. Breeding increases when food is abundant around and decreases in food scarcity.
The population of short Eared Owls has seen a gradual decline of 65% since 1970.
The population estimate of these Owls in the United States is 660,000. It is known to be one of the most widely distributed owl species in the world.
They can be easily spotted in North and South America including Hawaii and Iceland.
The Owls have a bronze-colored fluffy body with many murky patterns across the entire body. This characteristic helps the Owl to camouflage well from predators.
Their Habitat includes open areas like fields, grasslands, and marshes.
These Owls are quite active during the daytime and eat rats, shrews, rabbits, and moles. The younger ones like to eat grasshoppers and caterpillars.
The Short Eared owls can be eaten by red tail Hawks and Bald eagles. They can lay up to 14 eggs.
The Elf owls are one of the smallest owls in the world.
Their population estimate in the United States and Canada is about 40,000.
They can be found from Mexico into the South Western areas of the United States. The Owls live in desert scrubs.
They weigh up to a maximum of 45 gms.
The Elf Owls have a spherical skull with no ear clumps. They have a characteristic brownish-red frame with foggy marks everywhere including the wingspan. The abdomen is grey.
The Elf owls use the wings to wrap up their feet as the wingspan reaches up to the bottom of the tail.
The Owls eat small insects like beetles, caterpillars and grasshoppers, and other young bugs.
There are very few snowy Owls in the United States and Canada. According to the US population estimate, they are around 30,000.
There has been a steep decline in their population coming down to 64% since 1970.
Their native habitat is Arctic Tundra and the Owls winter in the Northern parts of the United States and southern Canada.
The Snowy Owls are heavy birds and one of the weightiest along with having the biggest wingspan across North America.
As the name suggests, snowy owls are made up of a white fluffy substance with dark grey marks all over its body.
Snowy Owls eat mice, squirrels, dogs, rabbits, squirrels, and many other small mammals.
Great Grey Owl
There are an estimated 95,000 Owls in the United States and Canada.
The great grey owls are found in Boreal forests. They are known to be one of the largest Owls in the United States measuring 24 to 33 inches in height.
The Owls can also be seen residing in Europe, Asia, Minnesota, and Alaska. They choose areas that are free from human contact.
These Owls sport a large tail with brownish-grey feathers that are fluffy at the bottom. The face is spherical with colorless facial hair.
There are also two greyish white strips that encircle its yellow eyes.
The Owl is active at sunrise and twilight. They hunt mice, vole, chipmunks,s and small mammals.
The Great Gray Owl has a large lifespan with a maximum age of 40 years!
They can turn tasty food for Great Horned Owls that are the sole predators of these Owls.
Spectacled Owls can be found abundantly in Mexico, Central America, and South America.
These Owls are very much attached to their territory and found mostly in American forests. They make nests in tree cavities.
As the name suggests, they have a spherical face with colorless hair strip encircling their dark eyes giving an appearance of wearing spectacles.
They have a dark brown plumage with a light brown chest.
Brazilians call them knocking Owls. Their diet includes insects like caterpillars, reptiles like lizards, small snakes, and small mammals like rats, mice, squirrels.
They also eat big insects, spiders, scorpions, small birds, and smaller Owl species.
They like to remain alone throughout the year except in breeding season and can lay only two eggs.
The spectacled Owls have a good lifespan living up to 35 years in the forests. They are excellent parents and take care of the owlets for up to one year.
Great Horned Owl
The Great Horned Owl is found throughout North, Central, and South America.
They are the biggest Owl species among all species of Owls and most adaptable and widespread throughout the United States.
The population estimate of these Owls is 3,900,000 in the United States and Canada with a declining trend in recent years.
The Owls stay in forests and fields.
As the name implies, these Owls do not have horns but rather feathery tufts. They have a reddish brown-grey shade overall with patterns of colorless fluffy substance.
The Owls are quite huge with hefty feathered feet.
These Owls have slots at the end of wingspans that help in changing direction while hunting.
The Great-horned Owls start hunting at sunset and eat everything that moves. It aims at little animals like pets, cats, rodents, rabbits, other Owls, and small birds.
They have a famous and distinct hoot. The mated pair hoot loudly and continuously to defend their nesting areas.
They have a two-month breeding season laying four eggs.
Spotted Owls are endangered species with the current population estimate in the United States and Canada being less than 15,000.
Among the spotted Owl, a subspecies of Spotted Owl, the Northern spotted Owl, continues to waver.
The spotted Owls are found in open forests and woodland habitats near water. You can spot them in Washington, New Mexico, California, Arizona, Oregon, Colorado, and Alaska.
They have murky eyes. The body is golden brown and has colorless marks throughout. The feet are covered with feathers.
The colors help the Owl to blend well and hide in shaded areas.
The spotted Owls usually eat rodents, insects, small birds, squirrels, and small mammals.
They build nests in tree holes. The females lay a maximum of three to four eggs. Spotted Owls are monogamous and partner for a long time. They can live from 12 to 15 years.
Western Screech Owl
A Western Screech Owl are ambitious hunters and do not mind feeding on preys larger than themselves.
They have a spherical face and a brownish or greyish feathered body with a band of murky colors.
With earth-colored tones on its body, it easily camouflages in the forest habitat.
Their population estimate in the United States and Canada is 220,000. You can spot them in western parts of North America till Central America, British Columbia, and Mexico.
They can be found in forests or open woods and make nests in abandoned cavities made by woodpeckers. They tend to avoid forests without openings and like stream nearby.
They eat little birds, smaller Owls, rodents, small mammals, and bugs.
They can in turn be eaten up by the Great Horned Owl, Barred Owls, and Long-eared Owls.
The female lays three to five eggs while the male brings food for her.
The owlets leave the nest in about 10 days and continue to be nearby parents for five weeks until they become experts in flying and catching prey.
Hope you enjoyed going through the different types of Owls. let me know in case you want to know more or are looking for something specific.
Till then keep listening to the hoots and birding. Take care!
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