18 Owl Species That Stay in the US! (2023)

“What varieties of owls are you able to see in the US?”


The above query is widespread, so I assumed I’d assist by making an inventory of all the person owl species that reside in the US.

united states owls


The temptation to intersperse this complete article with puns is sort of overwhelming.  I might simply wing it and beak-off about these birds all day lengthy, however I actually do give a hoot, and shortly you’ll be talon me to cease it. Okay, quiet down as a result of that’s owl you get. 🙂


Under is an inventory of the 18 owl species you could find in the US.


Be certain to concentrate to the vary maps to see which owls reside close to you! For every species, I’ve tried to incorporate some pictures, together with their commonest sounds, that will help you determine any owls that seem close to your private home.


#1. Nice Horned Owl

great horned owl


Nice Horned Owls are widespread in the US.


In truth, these raptors can truly be discovered virtually wherever in North America, from the Arctic south to the tropics. Its habitat is virtually limitless so long as there are timber and rocky nesting websites out there. It’s exhausting to discover a chook that may adapt higher than a Nice Horned Owl.


Nice Horned Owl Vary Map

great horned owl range map


These owls are fairly massive and look fierce! To determine, search for their lengthy tufts of feathers that resemble ears on their head. Additionally, try their intimidating eyes. I do know I might not need to have a staring contest with one!


Each sexes hoot, however males are lower-pitched than females. Males give territorial calls that may be heard a number of miles away at evening. I don’t assume there’s one other owl species that does hooting higher than a Nice Horned Owl!


Usually talking, these owls are inclined to eat bigger animals to maintain their larger our bodies. They search rabbits, geese, groundhogs, many species of birds, rats, and even different raptors! However, these owls additionally haven’t any drawback consuming small prey, corresponding to frogs, bugs, invertebrates, reptiles, mice, and scorpions. Apparently, a Nice Horned Owls’ sense of scent is so weak that they even assault and eat skunks!


Size: 17-25 inches (43 – 64 cm)

Weight: 2.5 to 4 kilos (1134 – 1814 grams)

Wingspan: 3 – 5 ft (91-153 cm)

Scientific Title: Bubo virginianus


#2. Brief-eared Owl

short eared owl


This mid-sized tawny-brown mottled owl is extensively distributed throughout North America. These birds principally hunt within the daytime when voles, their favourite meal, are energetic. Apparently, they’re one of the crucial widespread owls you may see throughout daylight!


Brief-eared Owls are sometimes present in open nation. Your finest probability to identify them in the US is at nightfall or daybreak in fields, grasslands, meadows, and even airports.


Brief-eared Owl Vary Map

short eared owl range map


These owls construct their nests on the bottom in open areas.  If obliged to flee its nest to attract off a predator, the mum or dad will poop on the eggs so the scent will hold predators away.  Just like a Kildeer, Brief-eared Owls additionally lure predators away from their nest by hopping away and pretending to be crippled.


Brief-eared Owls usually are not significantly vocal. However after they do make noises, these birds have a name, oddly sufficient, that sounds an terrible lot like a cat in search of a mate.


Size: 13–17 inches (34–43 cm)

Weight: 7.3–16.8 oz (206–475 grams)

Wingspan: 33.5-40.5 inches (85–103 cm)

Scientific Title: Asio flammeus


#3. American Barn Owl

common owls in the united states


Barn Owls (aka Church Owl, Ghost Owl, and Monkey-faced Owl) have a heart-shaped face that’s sandy-colored with a darkish brown edge.  Apparently, the form of an owl’s face steers sound to their ears, which helps make them probably the most environment friendly hunter-by-sound ever examined.  Their listening to is so good, they’ll find small animals below dense bush or snow with ease, and so they even hunt bats!


There are greater than 40 distinctive styles of Barn Owls. The American (Tyto furcata) model is the biggest (555 grams/1 lb. 4 oz.), with the smallest species residing on the Galapagos Islands (260 grams/9.2 oz.).


American Barn Owl Vary Map

barn owl range map


Barn Owls are non-migratory and are present in the US year-round.


These nocturnal creatures are inclined to inhabit deserted barns (therefore the identify). They’re severely endangered in lots of elements of their vary. Nonetheless, farmers love them as a result of they hold surrounding property pretty rodent-free, defending different animals from the ailments that mice and rats carry.


They don’t “hoot” within the classical trend of different owls.


Their distinctive screechy sound is much extra harking back to a red-tailed hawk.  When exhibiting off for a feminine, males will generally clap their wings collectively a few occasions whereas flying.


Size: 11–17 inches (29–44 cm)

Weight: 1 lb. 4 oz. (555 grams)

Wingspan: 39–49 inches (1–1.25 meters)

Scientific Title: Tyto furcata


#4. Northern Noticed-whet Owl

northern saw whet owl


In case you see a tiny owl in the US, there’s probability it’s a Northern Noticed-whet Owl! In truth, this species is without doubt one of the smallest owls on the planet.


Northern Noticed-whet Owls appear to desire dense coniferous or blended hardwood forests, with a river close by. Due to their want for mature timber, their numbers have been declining.


Northern Noticed-whet Owl Vary Map

northern saw-whet owl range map



Deserted woodpecker holes in deciduous timber are sometimes used for nests, however these owls will even use synthetic nesting containers. Apparently, females will breed indiscriminately with numerous males in any given season, having multiple clutch of eggs.  As quickly because the chicks have feathers, she leaves to search out one other mate whereas Dad tends to this batch of chicks.


These owls get their identify from the sound they make when alarmed, which resembles the whetting (sharpening) of a noticed. However their commonest name occurs throughout the breeding season. It appears like a “too-too-too,” emitted at about two notes per second.


Size: 6.5–9 inches (17–23 cm)

Weight: 1.9–5.3 oz. (54–151 grams)

Wingspan: 16.5–22.2 inches (42–56.3 cm)

Scientific Title: Aegolius acadicus


#5. Barred Owl

common owls in the united states


Barred Owls (aka the Hoot Owl) are an unthreatened, nocturnal owl present in the US.  The identify “barred” derives from the horizontal stripes of alternating mild brown and darkish brown on the wings, again, and tail.


Barred Owls are the species that I’ve noticed probably the most within the wild. They’re extremely curious and inquisitive, and plenty of occasions will watch as you stroll previous them. Even when they get nervous as you method, they sometimes simply fly off to a different tree to proceed observing.


Barred Owl Vary Map

barred owl range map

Since these owls are comparatively massive, they’re on the high of the meals chain. Their solely predators Nice Horned Owls and unhealthy people!


Barred Owls depend on mice and different small rodents however eat absolutely anything product of meat! They are going to readily seize rats, rabbits, bats, squirrels, moles, minks, weasels, opossums, quite a lot of birds, frogs, snakes, fish, turtles, and can even hunt round your nightly campfire to catch some candy, juicy bugs.


And talking of classical noises, their hoots are the basic sounds featured in motion pictures and scary Halloween tales.


It’s simple to acknowledge their name because it appears like they’re asking, “Who cooks for you?Barred Owls will pontificate throughout daylight too, and so they mate for all times.


Size: 16–25 inches (40–63 cm)

Weight: 1–2.75 kilos (500–1250 gr)

Wingspan: 38–49 inches (96–125 cm)

Scientific Title: Strix varia


#6. Japanese Screech-Owl

usa owls


Screech-owls might remind you {of professional} wrestlers since they’re brief, stocky, and haven’t any necks! These owls can both be gray or crimson, with a few third of all people being crimson.


Japanese Screech-owls have “pretend” ear-tufts on the highest of their head.


Faux, in fact, as a result of owls have REAL ears on the edges of their heads, beneath their feathers, in parallel with their eye line. The tufts might merely be camouflage to interrupt up their silhouette however may also be moved to speak with different owls, corresponding to “This can be a secure spot” to a mate or “Again off!” to a competitor.


Japanese Screech-Owl Vary Map

eastern screech-owl range map


These small owls will settle in virtually any wooded space within the mid to the japanese United States. Screech-owls keep away from areas populated by different bigger owls, most notably the Nice Horned Owl.  They don’t appear to thoughts individuals an excessive amount of as they’re comfy nesting on high of streetlamps, subsequent to busy roadways/highways, or inside areas in populated buildings.


Japanese Screech-owls make numerous hoots, calls, and songs, however their hottest is a fair pitched trill, usually known as a tremolo. The tremolo is utilized by pairs to maintain involved with one another and lasts between 3 to six seconds. I feel this tremolo name sounds rather a lot like mating toads, and I generally get the 2 confused!


Size: 6.3– 9.8 in (16–25 cm)

Weight: 4.2–8.6 oz. (120–244 g)

Wingspan: 18–24 in (46–61 cm)

Scientific Title: Megascops asio


#7. Lengthy-eared Owl

long eared owl


Lengthy-eared Owls are often known as the Northern Lengthy-Eared Owl, Lesser Horned Owl, or Cat Owl due to their catlike facial options. They’re secretive and roost in very dense foliage. Mixed with their glorious camouflage, these owls are EXTREMELY exhausting to identify in the US!


As you may see, these owls get their identify from the lengthy tufts of feathers on their heads. These ear tufts resemble exclamation factors, so Lengthy-eared Owls usually appear to be they’ve a shocked look on their face.


Lengthy-eared Owl Vary Map

long eared owl range map



Amongst owls, these guys are virtually distinctive by being fairly sociable.  They’re identified to reside in clusters and even share roosts!


Since Lengthy-eared Owls could be extremely exhausting to see, one of the simplest ways to find them is to hear! In the course of the mating season, males are fairly talkative. Their typical name is repeated wherever from 10 to 200 occasions and appears like a low “hoo,” evenly spaced each few seconds.


Size: 31 and 40 cm (12 and 16 in)

Weight: 288 g – 327 g (10.2 oz – 11.5 oz)

Wingspan: 86 to 102 cm (34 in to 40 in)

Scientific Title: Asio otus


#8. Snowy Owl

common snowy owl


Snowy Owls are one of the crucial gorgeous animals on the planet! Their white plumage stops virtually everybody of their tracks, each birders and non-birders alike! Though they’re principally white, they’ve horizontal darkish traces throughout their our bodies besides the face and breast. Apparently, people appear to get whiter with age.


Snowy Owl Vary Map

snowy owl range map


Snowy Owls migrate with the altering seasons. Throughout summer time, they mate and breed in northern Canada on the tundra. However when winter arrives, these birds come south.


You by no means understand how far south Snowy Owls will journey.


Most years, Snowy Owls solely seem as far down because the northern USA. However some years, there’s an “irruption” of Snowy Owls, and plenty of extra birds than regular migrate south.


When defending their territory or looking for a mate, males make a loud “hoo, hoo.” This hoot is so loud that it may be heard as much as 7 miles away on the tundra! Females not often hoot, however different noises (for each sexes) embrace cackles, shrieks, hissing, and invoice snapping.


Size: 20.7–25.2 inches (52.5–64 cm)

Weight: 3.2–4 lb. (1,465–1,800 gram)

Wingspan: 48–60 inches (1.2–1.5 meters)

Scientific Title: Bubo scandiacus


#9. Burrowing Owl

types of owls in the usa


Not like most different owl species in the US that spend their time in timber, Burrowing Owls reside underground! They both excavate their properties themselves or, fairly ceaselessly, take over underground shelters from bigger rodents. These underground dens present a number of area to assemble meals. They’ve been identified to have tons of of mice in storage in case of a meals scarcity!


Burrowing Owl Vary Map

burrowing owl range map


Since Burrowing Owls are prairie dwellers and inhabit areas with little vegetation, they’ve developed an attention-grabbing technique to assist discover meals. Consider it or not, these owls will collect the waste of different animals and unfold it out like a welcome mat across the entrances to their den.


Now, who exhibits as much as accumulate all of that poop?


Dung beetles and different juicy bugs! It’s identical to you putting a name to the pizza store for supply, sizzling contemporary, and proper to the door!


Whereas Burrowing Owls could make all kinds of sounds, they don’t seem to be particularly vocal. The commonest is a two-syllable that appears like “who-who” or “coo-coo-roo,” which is primarily made by males throughout mating and defending territories.


Size: 7.5–11.0 in (19–28 cm)

Weight: 5–8.5 oz. (147–240 gr)

Wingspan: 20–24 inch (51–61 cm)

Scientific Title: Athene cunicularia


#10. Western Screech-Owl

owl species that live in the united states


As soon as upon a time, Western Screech-Owls have been regarded as the identical chook because the Japanese Screech-Owl, however analysis has decided that they’re distinct species. These owls have an virtually bluish-gray, grey, or darkish brown feathering, with females being usually bigger than males.


Western Screech-Owl Vary Map

western screech-owl range map


Western Screech-Owls are present in all kinds of habitats in the US and are widespread of their vary.


Their main meals embrace rats, mice, and birds.  However they’re opportunistic hunters and also will eat fish, amphibians, and invertebrates, corresponding to crayfish, bugs, earthworms, and slugs. Apparently, they’ve been identified to often pluck a trout out of the water at evening or tackle one thing as massive as a duck or rabbit.


Regardless of their identify, Western Screech-Owl sounds usually are not “screechy.” The commonest sound is a fairly quiet, nice trill (“hoo-hoo-hoo” or “cr-r-oo-oo-oo”), which hurries up on the finish however maintains a relentless pitch.


Size: 7.5–10 inches (19–28 cm)

Weight: 3.5–11 oz. (100–300 grams)

Wingspan: 22–24 inches (55–62 cm)

Scientific Title: Megascops kennicottii


#11. Northern Pygmy-Owl

northern pygmy owl


The Northern Pygmy-Owl is a small, diurnal (daytime) chook. Its chest is white with vertical black stripes, whereas the rest is medium to darkish brown with spots. Search for two false eyes on the again of the pinnacle to dissuade assaults from behind.


Northern Pygmy-Owl Vary Map

northern pygmy owl range map


These owls usually desire open coniferous forests or blended forests at larger altitudes, primarily pine with a number of deciduous timber.


The chook’s name is fairly plain.  It sounds rather a lot like a one-note tin whistle (“too-too-too”)!


However don’t let the unimpressive hoots idiot you as a result of the Northern Pygmy-Owl is a robust little raptor. It can tackle birds which might be greater than twice its dimension. Consider it or not, it has even been identified to feast on chickens!


Size: 6½ inches (16cm)

Weight: 2.2-2.5 ounces(62–72 gr)

Wingspan: 15 inches (38 cm)

Scientific Title: Glaucidium californicum


#12. Flammulated Owl

flammulated owl


A chook is named “flammulated” when it has flame-shaped markings.  In case you look carefully on the Flammulated Owl, you may see the place it will get its identify. The feathering appears to be like like an ash-covered log in a campfire the place flecks of ember present by means of. It’s an attractive coloration, nevertheless it additionally makes this small owl significantly exhausting to identify within the western United States.


Flammulated Owl Vary Map

flammulated owl range map

Flammulated Owls reside on the very high of the forest, particularly coniferous forests.  They will even nest in deciduous forests, so long as there are some conifers as a part of the combination. Tree cavities are at all times used for nesting, with no lining supplies, which have to be fairly uncomfortable for his or her infants!


Due to their small dimension, Flammulated Owls hunt virtually solely for bugs (butterflies, moths, crickets, and beetles) and invertebrates.  However often, small rodents are taken and eaten.


Flammulated Owls have a really massive windpipe. This adaptation permits them to make a deep base hoot that appears like a a lot bigger chook. Folks seldom see these owls, however you may hear its surprisingly deep name from among the many treetops.


Size: 6 inches (15 cm)

Weight: 1.8–2.3 oz. (50–65 grams)

Wingspan: 14 inches (36 cm)

Scientific Title: Psiloscops flammeolus


#13. Nice Grey Owl

great gray owl


Nice Grey Owls are one of many largest owls in the US!


In case you’re fortunate sufficient to see one, they’re gorgeous raptors. Many individuals assume they appear like they’re sporting a gray go well with with a bowtie round its neck!


These owls cowl a number of territory for his or her vary, however they like to reside in a forest close to a clearing. It’s instrumental within the wintertime, as they want a number of space for listening to rodents operating beneath the snow to allow them to crash by means of and catch lunch! As a result of they’re so massive, they require a number of meals, consuming as much as 7 rodents day by day.


Nice Grey Owl Vary Map

great gray owl range map


Gray Grey Owls NEVER construct nests.  They only use ones that different massive birds made. Discuss being environment friendly! Nonetheless, as soon as they declare a used nest, these owls will defend it courageously, even in opposition to black bears!


Their name within reason distinctive, daring, and deep, sounding like “whooooo, woo, woo, woo.” In addition they have a delicate double hoot that’s used when offering meals to their infants or defending a territory.


Size: 24 – 33 inches (61–84 cm)

Weight: 1.5 – 4 lb (580–1,900 grams

Wingspan: 5 ft (1.5 meters)

Scientific Title: Strix nebulosa


#14. Noticed Owl

spotted owl


Sadly, Noticed Owl populations proceed to say no attributable to habitat loss and competitors with Barred Owls. Noticed Owls solely reside in mature forests within the western United States. So when the massive timber that these owls desire are reduce down, the habitat can’t get replaced for doubtlessly tons of of years.


Noticed Owl Vary Map

spotted owl range map


Like many different owls, this species doesn’t construct its nests. As an alternative, Noticed Owls take over nests that have been made by different birds in years previous, or they simply use a broken-off treetop or hole tree cavity.  They’re monogamous, however they don’t breed yearly.  Like several long-term couple, they’re comfy spending lengthy intervals aside and customarily solely meet up throughout the mating season.


The commonest sound {that a} Noticed Owl makes is a sequence of four-note delicate hoots. This name is given by each sexes and used to defend and mark their territory, though it may also be heard when males ship meals to females. Another sounds chances are you’ll hear embrace grunts, chatters, groans, and numerous different hooting noises.


Size: 17 inches (43 cm)

Weight: 1.3 lbs (600 grams)

Wingspan: 39–49 inches (1–1.25 meters)

Scientific Title: Strix occidentalis


#15. Boreal Owl

types of owls in the united states of america


The Boreal Owl is an extremely small owl present in the US.


They are often difficult to determine as a result of they’ve quite a lot of colours (from reddish-brown to grey) and patterns, despite the fact that it’s genetically the identical owl.  They’ll possess both dots or streaks, and generally each on the highest or backside of the physique.


Boreal Owl Vary Map

boreal owl range map


Boreal Owls reside within the boreal forests and could be seen in stands of aspen, poplar, spruce, fir, and birch timber. Due to their distant places, these owls are comparatively unusual and exhausting to check and see, and never a lot is thought about their inhabitants tendencies.


These owls wish to perch low in coniferous forests and alpine areas and tilt their heads forwards and backwards to scan for prey sounds with their extraordinarily directional listening to.  As soon as they’ve a goal, they swoop in, and dinner is served.  Since Boreal Owls are small, voles, bats, frogs, beetles, birds, and child squirrels are their main meals.


Their name is a small sequence of whistled toots that will get progressively louder. Males sometimes solely hoot throughout the breeding season to draw a feminine.


Size: 9–10.5 inches (22–27 cm) lengthy

Weight: 3.2–7 oz. (90-200 gr)

Wingspan: 20–24 inches (50–62 cm)

Scientific Title: Aegolius funereus

#16. Northern Hawk Owl

northern hawk owl


Because the identify suggests, Northern Hawk Owls are inclined to act extra like hawks than owls! These owls sit solitary in tall timber and hunt throughout the day, that are uncommon traits in owls.


Northern Hawk Owl Vary Map

northern hawk owl range map


These owls desire northern climates and the boreal forest.


Northern Hawk Owls generally feed on voles since they are often eaten complete and are usually plentiful.  In addition they will eat child hares, crimson squirrels, mice, rats, and lemmings.  Smaller songbirds match into their food plan, too, corresponding to robins, jays, starlings, grackles, finches, and sparrows.


Males make a rolling, low “hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo” sound repeated 10 to 200 occasions. Females have comparable calls, nevertheless it’s shorter and hoarser.


Males make a rolling, low “hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo” sound repeated 10 to 200 occasions. Females have comparable calls, nevertheless it’s shorter and hoarser.


Size: 14.2–17.75 inches (36–45 cm)

Weight: 11–12 oz (300–340 grams)

Wingspan: 31–35 inches (77–89 cm)

Scientific Title: Surnia ulula


#17. Elf Owl

owl species that live in the usa


This species is the smallest owl present in the US!


Elf Owls are solely the dimensions of sparrows, and so they like to lift their younger in previous woodpecker nests positioned in cacti and poplars. Constructing a nest in a cactus makes it tougher for predators such because the ringtail, bobcat, or coyote to achieve them. Sadly, larger owls are one of many largest risks to the Elf Owl.


Elf Owl Vary Map

elf owl range map


Because it ONLY hunts bugs, the Elf Owl doesn’t should be silent when it flys. This trait is extraordinarily uncommon amongst owl species.


These small owls subsist virtually solely on bugs, corresponding to moths, centipedes, and beetles. Apparently, they will even eat scorpions, however they ensure that to take away the stinger earlier than consuming. Elf Owls have tailored to people by searching clouds of bugs which were interested in shiny, synthetic lights!


Lastly, a enjoyable reality about Elf Owls is that they have stolen a trick from opossums! If threatened, the owl will play lifeless fairly than battle!


Size: 4.9–5.7 in (12.5–14.5 cm)

Weight: 1.4 oz. (40 grams)

Wingspan: 10½ inches (27 cm)

Scientific Title: Micrathene whitneyi


#18. Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl

ferruginous owl


Apparently, “ferruginous” truly means “rust-colored,” however the coloration ranges from grey-brown with a black-and-white barred tail to a vibrant rust coloration with a uniform rusty tail.


Ferruginous Pygmy-Owls are present in semi-open wooded areas, corresponding to mesquite thickets, making it simpler for them to hunt. These owls additionally desire lowlands as a substitute of upper altitudes within the southwest United States.


Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl Vary Map

ferruginous pygmy owl range map


These owls even have two black spots on the again of their head/neck known as “false eyes” that operate to discourage some birds from attacking from behind.


Why is that this essential?


This owl raids the nests and tree holes of many songbirds.  Many of those species have realized to acknowledge its name, and when that occurs, many of those small birds will attempt to assault the Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl to drive it out of the world. The “false eyes” assist scare any birds that attempt to sneak up from behind!


The decision of a Ferruginous Owl is a fast, repeated, and monotonous hooting, which sounds prefer it’s saying “puk-puk-puk.” It’s not unusual to listen to the sounds repeated as many as 100 occasions and not using a pause!


Size: 6 inches (15cm)

Weight: 14.5 – 16 inches (37–41 cm)

Wingspan: 39–49 inches (1–1.25 meters)

Scientific Title: Glaucidium brasilianum


Do you want further assist figuring out owls?


Listed here are a number of books and sources you should purchase that may present help! (Hyperlinks beneath take you to Amazon)


To be taught extra about different raptors close to you, try these guides!

Which owls have you ever seen earlier than in the US?


Go away a remark beneath!


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