Not only do owls have some of the most endearing faces of any bird of prey because of how expressive their eyes and ears can be, but they also have some of the most impressive skills of any raptor and are the subject of numerous myths and superstitions. Many birdwatchers may be surprised at how simple it is to go owling and add one of these incredible birds to their list, given their widespread distribution and widespread human interest in seeing them. In addition, many species of owl make excellent ambassador birds at sanctuaries for rehabilitating wild animals, zoos, and nature centers, where visitors can get up close and personal with some of the world’s most endearing and fascinating birds.
Different kinds of owls
Over 225 distinct owl species exist across two main families. The number of owl species is relatively small, with only a few considered endangered. However, nearly 50 species are vulnerable or threatened with drastic population declines. More owls than previously thought may be in jeopardy of extinction because several species have not been studied sufficiently to make an accurate determination of their status. It is possible for local populations to face severe threats within certain parts of their range without being classified as endangered or threatened on a global scale. Protecting owls as a species is crucial for ensuring that birdwatchers of the future can experience the awe and wonder of these magnificent creatures.
The long-eared owl (Asio otus), which can be found in both the Americas and Eurasia, is known for taking up residence in the abandoned nests of larger birds like hawks, ravens, and magpies. These true owls, though medium in size, forage for small mammals in open areas, which make up the bulk of their diet. Most long-eared owls form monogamous pairs after a courtship characterized by aerial displays and calls by males.
The barn owl, known for its distinctive heart-shaped face, can be found everywhere but Antarctica. Barn owls, the most common type of owl, are nocturnal hunters that prefer to operate in open areas. Nesting owls store extra prey, such as small rodents, birds, and even reptiles, to feed their young. Barn owls can sneak up on their prey undetected thanks to their acute hearing and fluffy feathers, which help to obscure their presence.
Also, know Barred Owl Nesting
Spotted wood owl
The spotted wood owl is unique among owls in having an orange facial disc. They have dark brown eyes and thin black bars across their white chest and stomach. This species of Southeast Asian wildlife prefers to be in open woodlands, plantations, and parks close to human settlements. The burrowing owl, one of the most peculiar owl species in the world, is native to this area. These small owls inhabit open areas across the Americas. (You can see them in the west and Florida in the United States.) Diurnal burrowing owls lay their eggs and roost in burrows previously created by mammals like prairie dogs or tortoises. Owls will use their beaks and claws to enlarge existing burrows to better suit their requirements. In addition to being tolerant of human presence, they have even been observed nesting in close proximity to busy thoroughfares.
The Eastern screech-owl, or Otus asio, is a small owl that typically measures between six and nine inches in length. The Eastern screech-owl is a nocturnal bird of prey that feeds primarily on small mammals and birds but also on insects, frogs, lizards, and tadpoles. The true owls are masters of disguise, choosing a tree hollow that blends in with their individual coloring to sleep in. This species, which ranges from eastern Canada to Mexico, is actually quite short and stocky, despite its name. It makes a descending tremolo call rather than a screech.
The Eurasian eagle-owl, with a wing span of 5.5 to 7.5 feet, is one of the largest owl species. The Eurasian eagle-owl is a formidable predator, feasting on a wide variety of prey, from rodents to lizards to foxes and even larger birds and owls.
These true owls can be found in a wide range of environments across Europe and Asia, from forests to deserts and mountains. Nesting sites include cracks in rock or cave entrances, and pairs stay together for life. There is a correlation between the availability of food sources and the rate of reproduction.
The largest owl on Earth is the critically endangered Blakiston’s fish owl. There are populations of this bird in the northern regions of Japan, China’s northeast, and Russia’s far east. (They may also exist in North Korea, but scientists have been unable to conduct surveys due to political unrest.)
For breeding purposes, Blakiston’s fish owls need specific conditions, such as old-growth forests with hollow trees. Because fish is one of their main food sources, they need access to streams in the area that don’t freeze solid during the winter. They have the strength to catch and kill salmon and trout that are twice or three times their weight.
From the Palearctic Region all the way down to the Iberian Peninsula and all the way east to China, the tawny owl can be found. It is one of the most common owls in England and can be found in a variety of settings, from forests to gardens to cemeteries.
Tawny owls are primarily nocturnal, so they go out to find their preferred prey—rodents, birds, insects, and amphibians—between the hours of dusk and dawn. Birds that stay in one place year-round tend to be fiercely protective of their territory. They make their presence known with loud, screeching calls and will fight to protect their young.
Great Gray Owl
The great grey owl lives in remote parts of Europe, Asia, the Pacific Northwest of the United States and Canada, and Alaska. The great grey owl is one of the largest owls with a height of 24–33 inches. However, its fluffy feathers make it appear even bigger. The facial disc of this true owl is distinguished by the grey stripes that frame its two yellow eyes.
The northern pygmy-owl is a tiny but fierce true owl that frequently attacks prey that is much larger than it is because of its aggressive daytime hunting behavior. These small, territorial owls are only about six inches in height, but they can be found in western Canada, the United States, Mexico, and Central America. Northern pygmy-owls, like other raptors, have ocelli in their eyes. With this pair of decoy eyes perched on its back, this bird can trick its prey and avoid being swarmed by a flock.