owls in ohio

8 Owls in Ohio (Common and Rare Species) With Pictures

Have you ever thought about how many species of owls are found in Ohio? These majestic creatures, towering above the forest canopy at night, are intriguing and fascinating to birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts.

In this article, we will dive into the owl world of Ohio. Over the next paragraphs, readers will learn about the most common species of owls in the state, from the iconic Great Horned Owl to the secret Northern Saw-whet Owl. Prepare to discover their favorite haunts, weird habits, and what secrets these birds of the night carry into the misty darkness.

Here are the main points:

  • Ohio is home to eight mesmerizing species of owls.
  • Owls in Ohio include the iconic Great Horned Owl and the elusive Northern Saw-whet Owl.
  • We will explore their diverse habitats and fascinating behaviors.
  • Prepare to be captivated by the secrets of these enigmatic creatures of the night.
  • Stay tuned for an owl-themed adventure that will leave you spellbound.

1. Eastern Screech-Owl

The Eastern Screech-Owl is one of the most common owl species in Ohio. These fascinating creatures are known for their distinctive calls and captivating appearance. Let’s delve into their habitat preferences, behaviors, and hunting strategies.

Eastern Screech-Owl

Habitat Preferences

The Eastern Screech-Owl is highly adaptable and can be found in a variety of habitats across Ohio. They are commonly found in woodlands, forests, suburban areas, and even urban parks. These owls prefer areas with a mix of trees, providing them with ample perching and nesting opportunities.

Nocturnal Behaviors

Like other owl species, the Eastern Screech-Owl is primarily nocturnal, meaning they are most active during the night. Their excellent night vision and acute hearing make them skilled hunters in low-light conditions. They rely on their keen senses to locate prey, which often includes small mammals, birds, and insects.

Nesting Habits

The Eastern Screech-Owl nests in cavities, such as tree hollows or abandoned woodpecker holes, which provide them with shelter and protection. They do not build nests from scratch but rather use existing structures. These owls are known to return to the same nesting sites year after year, ensuring their young have a safe and secure environment to grow.

Preferred Prey

The Eastern Screech-Owl has a varied diet, feeding on a range of prey items. Their primary prey includes small mammals like mice, voles, and shrews. They also hunt small birds, insects, and occasionally, reptiles and amphibians. Their hunting techniques involve perching silently and pouncing on their unsuspecting prey from above.

AspectDescription
Common NameEastern Screech-Owl
Scientific NameMegascops asio
HabitatWoodlands, forests, suburban areas
BehaviorNocturnal
NestingCavities in trees
PreySmall mammals, birds, insects

2. Great Horned Owl

The Great Horned Owl is a majestic and iconic owl species that can be found throughout Ohio. With its distinct features and impressive size, this owl has captured the admiration and curiosity of bird enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

One of the notable locations where the Great Horned Owl can be spotted is in the metroparks of Ohio. These natural sanctuaries provide an ideal habitat for this majestic bird to thrive. Within the metroparks, the Great Horned Owl can be observed perched high on tree branches, surveying its surroundings with its piercing yellow eyes.

Great Horned Owl

Roosting is an essential aspect of the Great Horned Owl’s life. This owl species has the remarkable ability to adapt to various roosting sites, such as abandoned nests of other large birds, tree cavities, and even man-made structures like buildings and barns. The Great Horned Owl’s flexibility in choosing roosting locations enables it to establish a stable territory and protect its nesting grounds.

As a top predator in the avian food chain, the Great Horned Owl has a diverse diet that includes a wide range of prey. From small mammals like rabbits and squirrels to birds, reptiles, and even large insects, this owl possesses exceptional hunting skills to capture its prey. Its powerful talons and sharp beak make it a formidable predator.

When it comes to nesting, the Great Horned Owl shows remarkable dedication and resourcefulness. Typically, they will reuse the nests of other birds, such as hawks or crows. These nests are usually located in tall trees, providing a safe and secure environment for the owlets. The Great Horned Owl takes its nesting duties seriously, fiercely protecting its young and ensuring their survival.

The Great Horned Owl is a true symbol of resilience and strength. Its presence in Ohio’s metroparks, distinctive roosting habits, formidable hunting prowess, and nurturing nesting behaviors make it an iconic and beloved bird species in the region.

Characteristics of the Great Horned Owl:

  • Size: Adults can reach a height of up to 25 inches and have a wingspan of up to 5 feet.
  • Appearance: Its notable features include prominent ear tufts, intense yellow eyes, and feathered “horns” on its head.
  • Habitat: The Great Horned Owl can be found in a variety of habitats, including forests, woodlands, deserts, and even urban areas.
  • Call: The call of the Great Horned Owl is a distinctive series of deep hoots, often described as “hoo-hoo-hoo-hoooo.”
  • Lifespan: In the wild, the Great Horned Owl can live up to 13 years on average, but can reach up to 38 years in captivity.
PreyHunting Techniques
Mammals (rabbits, squirrels, skunks)Ambush hunting, silent flight, powerful talons
BirdsAerial pursuit, surprise attacks
Reptiles and AmphibiansPouncing from a perch, snatching prey from water
InsectsSwift aerial attacks

3. American Barn Owl

The American Barn Owl is a mysterious nocturnal predator that captivates us with its enigmatic nature and hunting prowess. As its name suggests, this species has a strong affinity for barns and other man-made structures, where it seeks shelter and nests.

American Barn Owl

Known for its hauntingly beautiful appearance, the American Barn Owl can be found in various habitats across North America, from open grasslands and farmlands to marshes and forests. Its adaptability allows it to thrive in diverse environments, making it a truly remarkable creature.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the American Barn Owl is its nocturnal behavior. Under the cover of darkness, it emerges from its roosting spot to hunt for its prey. With its sharp eyesight and acute hearing, it can detect the slightest movements and sounds of its unsuspecting victims.

“The American Barn Owl’s ability to silently swoop down on its prey is truly mesmerizing. It is a master of stealth, making it a formidable predator in the night.” – Barn Owl Researcher, Dr. Sarah Thompson

This fascinating bird primarily preys on small mammals such as mice, voles, and rats, helping to control their populations in its ecosystem. Its exceptional hunting skills and efficient digestion system have earned it the reputation of being an indispensable ally to farmers and pest control efforts.

4. Barred Owl

The Barred Owl, also known as the “Hooter of the Woods,” is a captivating species that leaves a lasting impression with its distinctive call. Let’s delve into the fascinating world of this woodland wonder, exploring its habitat, exceptional camouflage plumage, preferred prey, and vocalizations.

Inhabiting dense woodlands, the Barred Owl finds its sanctuary among the trees. Its surroundings provide the perfect backdrop for its exceptional camouflage, allowing it to blend seamlessly into its environment. With its dark brown and white streaked plumage, the Barred Owl becomes nearly invisible against the bark of trees, making it a master of disguise.

Barred Owl

When it comes to food, the Barred Owl is an opportunistic hunter. Its diet includes a variety of prey, such as small mammals like mice, voles, and rabbits, as well as birds and amphibians. This versatile palate ensures the Barred Owl’s survival even in the ever-changing woodland ecosystem.

One of the most striking characteristics of the Barred Owl is its resonant call, often described as “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you-all?” This distinctive vocalization resonates through the woods, making it a recognizable sound for those lucky enough to hear it.

Fun fact:

Did you know that the Barred Owl’s call can carry for up to two miles, allowing it to communicate over vast distances in the forest? This unique ability helps Barred Owls establish and defend their territories.

As the sun sets and the woods come alive, keep your ears open for the enchanting call of the Barred Owl. It serves as a reminder of the hidden wonders that await in the heart of nature’s sanctuary.

5. Snowy Owl: A Winter Visitor in Ohio

The Snowy Owl, known for its striking white plumage, is a majestic winter visitor to Ohio. This stunning bird of prey captures the imagination with its ethereal beauty and graceful flight.

During the winter months, Snowy Owls migrate south from their breeding grounds in the Arctic tundra. Ohio provides them with a temporary habitat where they can find ample food and suitable roosting spots.

Snowy Owl

These owls are skilled hunters, utilizing their sharp vision and acute hearing to locate their prey. Snowy Owls primarily hunt small mammals such as rodents, lemmings, and rabbits.

Migration plays a crucial role in the life cycle of Snowy Owls. They undertake this arduous journey in search of favorable feeding grounds. By migrating, they can find areas with higher prey abundance and avoid the harsh conditions of the Arctic winter.

Witnessing a Snowy Owl in its winter habitat is a rare and memorable experience. Their presence adds a touch of magic to the winter landscape of Ohio, as they perch on tree branches or open fields, their white plumage contrasting against the snowy backdrop.

“The Snowy Owl is truly a captivating species. Its presence in Ohio during the winter months is a testament to the beauty and resilience of nature.”

6. Short-Eared Owl: The Silent Hunter

The Short-Eared Owl is a stealthy predator recognized for its remarkable ability to fly silently. With its specially adapted wings and feathers, this owl can move through the air without making a sound, allowing it to sneak up on unsuspecting prey.

When it comes to hunting, the Short-Eared Owl is a master strategist. It primarily hunts small mammals, such as mice and voles, which make up the majority of its diet. This owl has keen eyesight and excellent hearing, enabling it to locate its prey even in dim light or complete darkness.

Short-Eared Owl

The preferred habitat of the Short-Eared Owl is open grasslands, marshes, and meadows, where its prey is abundant. This species can also be found in coastal areas and agricultural fields. The Short-Eared Owl is known for its low, buoyant flight as it searches for food, hovering and swooping down to capture its unsuspecting prey.

When it comes to roosting, the Short-Eared Owl prefers to nest on the ground, using elevated mounds or patches of tall grasses for shelter. This behavior helps camouflage the owl from potential predators and ensures that its nests are hidden from view. It also provides a safe place for the owl to rest during the day.

Overall, the Short-Eared Owl is a fascinating and adaptive species. Its silent flight, hunting prowess, and unique habitat preferences make it an important part of the ecosystem. By studying and understanding this remarkable owl, we can gain valuable insights into the delicate balance of nature.

SpeciesHunting TechniquesPrey ChoicesRoosting Habits
Short-Eared OwlSilent flight, low hovering, swoopingSmall mammals, primarily mice and volesNests on the ground, camouflaged in elevated mounds or tall grasses

7. Long-Eared Owl

The Long-Eared Owl is a mysterious species often associated with woodlands. With its unique appearance and elusive nature, this owl captures the imagination of nature enthusiasts and bird watchers alike.

Long-Eared Owl

One distinguishing feature of the Long-Eared Owl is its ear tufts, which are actually feathers and not ears. These tufts give the owl its characteristic ghost-like appearance, adding to its enigmatic charm.

When it comes to prey, the Long-Eared Owl is primarily a hunter of small mammals such as mice, voles, and shrews. Its silent flight and exceptional hearing make it a formidable predator, able to swoop down on its unsuspecting prey without a sound.

As for roosting habits, the Long-Eared Owl prefers dense woodlands where it can find shelter and camouflage among the branches and foliage. During the daytime, it typically roosts in dense coniferous trees, blending in seamlessly with its surroundings.

8. Northern Saw-whet Owl

The Northern Saw-whet Owl is a rare and elusive species that calls Ohio its home. With its small size and cryptic plumage, this owl has mastered the art of blending into its surroundings, making it a challenging bird to spot in the wild.

Northern Saw-whet Owl

When it comes to finding a place to rest, the Northern Saw-whet Owl has its preferences. Known for its fondness for coniferous forests, this owl often chooses dense evergreen trees to roost during the day. These secluded roosting spots provide protection from predators and shelter from the elements.

As a nocturnal hunter, the Northern Saw-whet Owl emerges at nightfall to search for its prey. With a diet mainly consisting of small mammals such as mice and voles, this owl relies on its exceptional hearing to locate its next meal. Listen closely, and you might hear its distinctive call echoing through the forest during the dark hours.

Protecting the habitat of the Northern Saw-whet Owl is crucial for its survival. As development continues to encroach upon its woodland habitat, conservation efforts are essential to preserve this elusive species’ population. By protecting their habitats, we ensure that future generations can be fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of Ohio’s enigmatic Northern Saw-whet Owl.

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Q1: What owls are most common in Ohio?

The most common owls in Ohio include the Eastern Screech Owl, Barred Owl, Great Horned Owl, and occasionally the Northern Saw-whet Owl.

Q2: Where can I see owls in Ohio?

Owls can be spotted in various habitats across Ohio such as forests, parks, and wooded areas. Popular spots include state parks like Hocking Hills, Shawnee State Forest, and Magee Marsh Wildlife Area.

Q3: Do barn owls live in Ohio?

Yes, barn owls do live in Ohio. However, they are not as common as some other owl species in the state.

Q4: Does Ohio have burrowing owls?

No, Ohio does not have burrowing owls. Burrowing owls are typically found in western and central North America, preferring open grasslands and prairies, which are not common habitats in Ohio

Mya Bambrick

I am a lifelong bird lover and nature enthusiast. I admire birds for their beauty, diversity, and intelligence. Birding is more than a hobby for me; it is a way of life. Therefore, I created this website to provide better and quality information about bird species. You know there are many bird species in the world right now. I started a path to introduce you to birds one by one.

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