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owls in louisiana

8 Types of Owls in Louisiana (ID Guide With Pictures)

In the diverse habitats of Owls in Louisiana, swamps and marshes teem with unique animals, including alligators. Yet, amidst this rich biodiversity, the state’s abundant bird species often go unnoticed. Did you know that Louisiana is home to eight owl species? These nocturnal hunters play a crucial role in controlling native rodent populations and curbing the invasive Nutria, a South American rodent wreaking havoc on swamp ecosystems. In this guide, I’ll introduce you to Louisiana’s owl species and reveal the best habitats for spotting these fascinating birds.

Here we’ll learn about 8 different types of Owls in Louisiana!!

1. Great Horned Owl

  • Scientific nameBubo virginianus
  • Length: 18.1-24.8 in
  • Weight: 32.1-88.2 oz
  • Wingspan: 39.8-57.1 in)
  • Lifespan: 10-20 years in the wild, can reach 30+ years in captivity
  • Status: Least Concern

The Great Horned Owl is the biggest owl in Louisiana and all of North America. It’s really good at hunting small animals like mice and voles, but it can also catch bigger things like jackrabbits or even young cats.

Great Horned Owl

These owls can live in lots of different places, but they like forests with both deciduous (trees that lose their leaves) and evergreen trees. They’re especially good at catching invasive brown rats, which helps farmers and people with homes.

Sometimes, they hunt during the day, so you might see one if you’re lucky. If you find where they hang out, you might also find their leftovers called owl pellets. If you open up these pellets, you can see what animals the owls have been eating!

2. Barn Owl

  • Scientific nameTyto alba
  • Length: 12.6-15.8 in
  • Weight: 14.1-24.7 oz
  • Wingspan: 39.4-49.2 in
  • Lifespan: 3-5 years in the wild, can reach 30+ years in captivity
  • Status: Least Concern

The Barn Owl is a widespread bird found almost everywhere in the world. As their name suggests, they often live in barns and abandoned buildings, making nests there instead of in tree holes.

Barn Owl

In the United States, Barn Owls are among the few migratory birds of prey. They fly south during winter. Luckily, Louisiana falls within their year-round range, so you can spot them here anytime. These owls like open areas like fields for hunting, and you’ll often find them in fields bordered by thickets or groups of trees.

3. Burrowing Owl

  • Scientific nameAthene cunicularia
  • Length: 7.5-9.8 in
  • Weight: 5.3 oz
  • Wingspan: 21.6 in
  • Lifespan: 6-8 years; the oldest known individual was 9 years old
  • Status: Least Concern

Burrowing Owls are different from most other owls, which actually makes them easier to spot. They don’t nest in trees and don’t fly around as much.

Burrowing Owl

They have long legs that help them run fast on the ground to catch their food. Also, These owls are active during the day, so if you know where they like to hang out, you might see one. They live in holes dug by animals like prairie dogs and gophers, but they don’t eat those animals because they’re too small.

Instead, they eat bugs like grasshoppers. Even though they’re small, they’re smart. They make sounds like rattlesnakes when they’re in their burrows to scare away bigger animals like badgers and coyotes.

4. Eastern Screech Owl

  • Scientific nameMegascops asio
  • Length: 6.3-9.8 in
  • Weight: 4.3-8.6 oz
  • Wingspan: 18.9-24.0 in
  • Lifespan: 8-10 years in the wild; up to 20 years in captivity
  • Status: Least Concern

The Eastern screech owl is pretty small, even smaller than the Burrowing Owl sometimes. But don’t let their size fool you—they act big! They live in Louisiana all year round and are braver than other owls. While most owls like to be alone, these guys don’t mind hanging out in parks in the suburbs.

Eastern Screech Owl

They mostly eat small animals like rodents, but they’re not picky. They’ll chow down on big bugs, lizards, bats, frogs, and even crayfish if they get the chance.

Eastern Screech-Owls come in two main colors: red and gray. You’ll mostly see the red ones in the South, especially in Louisiana.

These birds are night owls in every sense of the word. You probably won’t see them during the day, but at night, you might hear their special call. It sounds like a shaky noise, kind of like a horse’s whinny, even though they’re called “screech-owls.”

5. Northern Saw-Whet Owl

  • Scientific nameAegolius acadicus
  • Length: 7.1-8.3 in
  • Weight: 2.3-5.3 oz
  • Wingspan: 16.5-18.9 in
  • Lifespan: 5-7 years; in captivity, up to 14 years
  • Status: Least Concern

This owl isn’t very common in Louisiana like some other species, but they’re still around, though they’re hard to find. Unlike most owls, this kind doesn’t usually swallow their prey whole.

Northern Saw-Whet Owl

Also, This owl is thought to be named after its call, which sounds like a saw blade being sharpened. It’s a small owl with a face like a cat’s, having sharp features. Young owls are easier to spot because they have a distinctive cinnamon-colored belly.

6. Barred Owl

  • Scientific nameStrix varia
  • Length: 16.9-19.7 in
  • Weight: 16.6-37.0 oz
  • Wingspan: 39.0-43.3 in
  • Lifespan: On average, 8-10 years, but individuals have lived upwards of 20 years
  • Status: Least Concern

This large owl is common in Louisiana because it loves old forests and swamps, which Louisiana has plenty of.

Barred Owl

The Barred Owl is famous for its call that sounds like “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?” It’s a bit smaller than the Great Horned Owl and is less aggressive, so it often gets pushed out by stronger birds.

Barred Owls in the south are usually a bit smaller and darker than those in the north.

Because they don’t have big feet for their body size, they usually hunt small animals, but they can catch large squirrels and similar-sized prey.

7. Long-Eared Owl

  • Scientific nameAsio otus
  • Length: 13.8-15.8 in
  • Weight: 7.8-15.3 oz
  • Wingspan: 35.4-39.4 in
  • Lifespan: on average 10-15 years, can be up to 30 years
  • Status: Least Concern

This bird, which always looks surprised, is more social than most other owls. In winter, they often roost together in small groups.

Long-Eared Owl

Long-eared owls don’t build their own nests. Instead, they use abandoned nests from other birds.

They mainly eat voles, which are their favorite prey. The long-eared owl is one of the most common owl species in the world. Because of its wide range and large population, it’s considered a “least concern” species by the IUCN.

However, in some areas, their numbers are decreasing.

You can help protect owls by not using poison for rodents. Poisoned rodents can live for several days, but if an owl eats a poisoned rodent, it will likely die.

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8. Short-Eared Owl

  • Scientific nameAsio flammeus
  • Length: 13.4-16.9 in
  • Weight: 7.3-16.8 oz
  • Wingspan: 33.5-40.5 in
  • Lifespan: 4-15 years
  • Status: Least Concern

The Short-Eared Owl lives in many places but likes fields and marshes, making Louisiana a great home for them.

Short-Eared Owl

This owl is one of the easiest to spot because it often hunts in the early morning instead of only at night. To see a Short-Eared Owl, try walking around their habitats at sunrise!

Also, These owls fly close to the ground to look for prey. They look similar to Long-Eared Owls, but you can tell them apart by the Long-Eared Owl’s longer ear tufts.

Short-eared owls prefer to eat voles, but they can also catch prey ranging from tiny caterpillars to gulls and other seabirds!

Where To Spots Olws in Louisiana?

Even experienced birdwatchers might need some tips for spotting owls, but there are ways to increase your chances.

First, remember that most owls are active at night. If you prefer daytime birdwatching, focus on owls like the Burrowing Owl, which is active during the day, or the early-rising Short-Eared Owl.

Not sure where to start?

One of the best ways to spot owls in Louisiana is to visit locations designed for wildlife viewing. Many Louisiana state parks have safe trails perfect for spotting wildlife, and they usually provide guides to the species you might see.

Additionally, local Audubon chapters often offer guided tours. If you’re new to birdwatching, joining a guided tour can be very helpful.

Tour guides are experienced birdwatchers and are more likely to spot owls that are hidden or camouflaged.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What are the most common owls in Louisiana?

The Barred Owl is the most common in Louisiana.

Q2. Are owls in LA?

Yes, there are several species of owls in Louisiana.

Q3. Are there owls in Baton Rouge?

Yes, you can find owls in Baton Rouge, including species like the Barred Owl and the Great Horned Owl.

Q4. Where do most owls live in the US?

Most owls in the US live in forests, but they can also be found in deserts, grasslands, and urban areas.

John William

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