Welcome to our post showcasing 18 beautiful owl species to see in the wild.
Owl Species to see in the Wild
Owls are strikingly attractive creatures – their huge, piercing eyes and engrossingly haunting hoots are a recurrent theme in many stories, myths and legends. Since ancient times, owls have captured the fascination and attention of various cultures. Their natural beauty aside, they are highly intelligent creatures which are masters of their environment. Read about these 18 owl species and take in their charm as you admire the accompanying images and videos.
1. Long-eared owl
This medium-sized owl species has brown and yellowish-brown plumage, with spots, patches and bars of color covering most of the body. It is most active when darkness sets. Found in Europe, Asia and North America, it hunts bats, kangaroo rats, squirrels, gophers, shrews and other mammals for food.
Image Source : Flickr – DarrelBirkett
2. Barn owl
The barn own has a distinctly heart-shaped facial disc which is white with a brown outline. Its eyes and claws are brownish-black but the crown and upperparts have a yellowish-brown color that sometimes lightens to an orange-bluff. Found in virtually all habitats, it is one of the most widespread of all terrestrial birds.
3. Spectacled owl
You can easily recognize spectacled owls by their dark-brown bodies and white or yellow-ochre colored bellies. The white color surrounding their eyes resembles eyeglasses. They are common in Mexico, Central and South America where they live in dense tropical rainforests, dry forests and open areas that have trees.
Image Source: Flickr – David Evans
4. Oriental bay owl
Also known as the Asian Bay Owl, it is quite a small, unusual looking owl that has short, rounded wings. It tends to start calling during the early evenings in a series of 4-7 loud, melancholic-fluted whistles. During the breeding season, it can be very vocal, especially after midnight. The oriental bay owl loves to hunt near water where it looks for bats, lizards, frogs, mice and large insects.
Image Source: WikiPedia
5. Eastern screech owl
Eastern screech owls have bright-yellow eyes and pale grayish-brown facial discs. They actually don’t screech as they tend to call in a lower-pitched voice. Commonly found in North America, they like to stay in open mixed woodlands, deciduous forests and wooded suburban areas. They hunt all night, but mostly in the first hours of the evening.
6. Barred owl
If you are walking through a North American forest at night and you hear a wild hooting cry, it is probably from a barred owl. These owls have very unique vocalizations, particularly the unmistakable nine-noted hoot. Often easier to hear than to spot, they love hunting near farms, dumps and cities.
7. Boreal owl
This is a smallish own with no ear-tufts. Eyes are bright-yellow and the facial disk is mostly white, surrounded by a dark outline with tiny white spots. They usually hunt using their very sharp, directional hearing. The boreal owl can live for up to 8 years.
8. Snowy owl
One of the heaviest owls in North America, it has a rounded head, white feathers and black spots lining the whole body. It lives in the Arctic tundra on mountain slopes and plateaus that have a high elevation. It feeds on larger mammals, fish, lemmings and voles. They can enter animal traps and eat the bait and the trapped animal.
9. Eurasian eagle owl
The Eurasian eagle owl is the heaviest in the world. Some females can weigh as much as 9.25 pounds, twice the weight of a fully-grown female snowy owl. The neck has a striping pattern on the back and the sides, while the head and the forehead exhibit heavy freckling. It is found in North Africa, Europe, parts of Asia and the Middle East.
10. Tawny owl
The tawny owl can be recognized by its large eyes that have bluish-black irises. It is a medium-sized, chunky owl with a rounded head and no ear-tufts. Hunting time is during the night, where it sits patiently on a perch, watching and listening very keenly. It is found throughout Europe and North Africa as well as some parts of western Siberia.
11. Great grey owl
It is a large grey owl with fluffy plumage, long wings and a large head with no ear-tufts. You can recognize it from its puffy head, yellow eyes and circular facial disks. The plumage is thickly feathered with grey or brown, and the feet are covered by feathers.
12. Northern pygmy owl
From its name, you can probably deduce that this owl is rather small in size. At just 16-18 cm tall, it is one of the smallest owls in North America. It compensates for the tiny size by being fierce and brave, as it frequently hunts birds and mammals bigger than itself.
13. Burrowing owl
A bird living underground? Well, the burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia) is one such bird. It lives in burrows abandoned by prairie dogs, skunks and other small mammals. When disturbed in its burrow, it lets out an alarm that sounds very much like the rattle of a rattlesnake. It however spends time above ground hunting for prey, mostly on foot.
14. Northern saw-whet owl
This is a very small owl with a brownish facial disc which encloses a whitish zone around the eyes. The rest of the head is rusty-brown or grey brown. They are found in North America, whey they spend the winters breeding. When prey is plentiful, the saw-whet owl can kill as many as six mice in quick succession. The excess food is stored in safe places in readiness for winter, when it is thawed out by “brooding” over the frozen carcass.
Source : eBirdr Channel
15. Striped owl
The striped owl has a brownish-white facial disk with a blackish rim that is quite distinct. As with most owls, it hunts at night, eating small mammals and birds. It also eats large insects and some reptiles. They can be found in North and South America where they live in open areas with trees, small groves and bushes.
16. Tawny fish owl
It is generally a large owl with rumpled, horizontal ear-tufts. Its habitat stretches from northern India to southeast China, Laos and Vietnam. It mostly feeds on fish, though it occasionally hunts crabs, frogs and other water animals.
Image Source : Wikipedia
17. Western screech owl
The western screech owl is a tiny, woodland owl that has short ear-tufts and yellow eyes. It has a stealthy flight, and becomes still and motionless if disturbed at roost. It is commonly found in the western part of North America.
18. Ural owl
It is a large owl with a rounded head and a relatively long tail that has a wedge-shaped tip. They are usually easily approachable as they are not shy. It lives in Northen Europe, preferring deciduous and mixed forests with clearings. When they are breeding, they can become quite aggressive especially near the nest.