The Alabama owl is a fearsome hunter with an uncanny ability to blend in with its surroundings. Parks and forests aren’t the only places to find them; they may also be found in our neighborhoods. There is a lot to learn about owls in Alabama, as we don’t see them very often.
To learn more about the specific owl that makes use of your land, you might look for an owl nest in your own tree. Owl houses can even be built and placed in backyards by some individuals. For both their beauty and their rodent-killing abilities, they’re hard to beat.
Because of their nocturnal habits and mysterious personalities, owls can be difficult to recognize for both novice birders and those with more experience. Fortunately for you, we’ll take a closer look at some of these owls, and you may discover that they aren’t nearly as identical as they appear at first glance.
Types of owls in Alabama
The Barn Owl, which stands between 12 and 16 inches tall, is possibly the most distinctive of the seven species. The easiest way to recognize them is by their white, heart-shaped faces. Bodies can be cinnamon buff, gold-hued, or rusted on the rest. Their rounded wings and square, shorter tails set them apart from other species. Oddly enough, their eyes are relatively small; proportionally, that is.
The Barn Owl prefers to nest in barns since it is nocturnal. Each night they hunt for four tiny mammals, which is what you’ll see if you chance upon one prowling in the night. Rats, mice, voles, and other rodents are examples of this group. In addition, they will scream, shriek, hiss, screech, and whistle rather than “hoot.”
The Barred Owl’s wings and tail are marked with white and mottled brown patterns, and its eyes are pitch black with dark streaks.
A damp location within a forest is ideal for this owl, such as uplands, forested rivers, or swampy places. Invertebrates, fish, birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians are some of their favorite food sources. To collect crawdads or fish, they may even wade into the shallow waters of their local ponds and creeks.
Because these owls may be found year-round in Alabama and never leave the same spots, migration is not an option for them. Barred Owl’s calls sound like, “who cooks for you, who cooks for you all.” If you hear this call while out in nature, you’ve probably heard one. Barred Owls, in contrast to most other owl species, can be heard during the daylight hours.
Eastern Screech Owl
The grey or red feathers, black-rimmed forehead, and ear tufts distinguish this small owl, which stands 6 to 10 inches tall. They have a short, stocky build with what appears to be a missing neck. White spots and streaks adorn the wings and belly of this monarch butterfly.
These nocturnal owls are common and easy to see because of their propensity for foraging in large groups. More like a whinnying horse’s hoot than an owl’s, the Eastern Screech’s hoot has a gentler quality.
Northern Saw-Wheat Owl
The Saw-whet Owl Owl is one of North America’s tiniest owls and lives in the northern forests. It has huge, round eyes and no ear tufts on its round skull. There are white patches on the upper body and strong dark streaks on the underside. The “to-wit to-woo” sound of this owl’s call is what gives it its name.
Forested environments, wooded areas, and even urban areas are home to the Northern Saw-whet Owl. At night, when mice and shrews are most active, it is most active. This species of owl prefers to build its nests in tree cavities or in nest boxes of some type. As part of its courtship ritual, the Northern Saw-whet Owl male bows calls out his name, and offers gifts of food.
Great Horned Owl
The great-horned owl is a common image of an owl in the public’s eye. With a wingspan ranging from 48 to 60 inches, these owls are Alabama’s largest owl species. The great horned owl is dark with grey mottling on its back and breast, with a white throat and talons. It’s not unusual for great-horned owls to spend the majority of their time perched in a tree or other safe location. They are most active in the early hours of the morning and evening.
In Alabama, Long-eared Owls have unusual long ear tufts that can be used to identify them. Flattened against the head, these ears can be upright or splayed outward. The bright eyes and broad facial disc complete the look. The bill is black, while the legs and feet are grey.
This owl’s top body is brown with thick dark streaks, while the underside is lighter with some dark striping. Compared to adults, juvenile Long-eared Owls are more extensively streaked.
Many different environments are suitable for this species, including forests and woodlands as well as arid areas. In order to scan the area for prey, it frequently perches on a branch or pole that is exposed to the wind.
The Long-eared Owl prefers to hunt at night, but if required, it will also hunt during the day. Mice, voles, and shrews are all staples in its diet.
Fun Facts About Owls in Alabama
- The barn owl, the barred owl, the great horned owl, and the screech owl are the four most common owls in Alabama. Owls have a lot of interesting tidbits to share with you.
- Only seven vertebrae are found in the necks of humans. There are 14 in an owl’s neck, allowing it to rotate 270 degrees.
- Perhaps this is the reason their necks can move so far.
- An owl pellet is a ball of animal components that have not been digested. Owls’ eating patterns can be studied with the use of these pellets, which are useful to researchers.
- Feathers on an owl’s wings have been precisely engineered to reduce air turbulence for maximum flight efficiency. The secret of their stealthy flight is this:
- For the purpose of attracting wild turkeys, hunters will use owl calls.