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Common Owl Species

You’ve probably heard the loud, musical hoots of an owl before! Owls are known for their big, wise eyes and their hooked beaks. But did you know there are over 200 different species of owls? Owls are found almost everywhere on Earth, except for the polar ice caps. Fun fact: a group of owls is called a parliament! Let’s take a look at different owl species.

How many species of Owls are there?

There are 254 species of Owls! These are bunched together into two families. Sadly, 5 of these species are already extinct. 20 species from the family Tytonidae. These are normally known as barn owls. The other 234 species of Owls form the family Strigidae. These are also known as true owls or typical owls. 

The main difference between true owls and barn owls is how they look. Barn owls have heart-shaped faces, dark eyes, and no ear tufts. On the other hand, true owls have round faces, yellow or orange eyes, and generally have ear tufts.

Largest Owl Species

The largest living species of Owls is Bubo Blakiston. They are commonly called Blakiston’s Fish Owls, after the English explorer who first described them. They are native to China, Japan, Russia, and north-eastern Asia.

Blakiston’s Fish Owls have a wingspan of up to 6.5 feet, and weigh up to 9 pounds! They are also one of the rarest species of owls. They are part of the Strigidae family and their diet mainly consists of fish. They are found in forests near rivers and streams.

Smallest Owl Species

The smallest species of Owls is Micrathene whitneyi, also known as the Elf Owl. It is a small, greyish-brown owl about the size of a sparrow. They are found in woodlands and deserts in Southwestern United States, Mexico, and the Californian peninsula.

The Elf Owl is also the world’s lightest owl. It weighs only around 1.4 ounces, and has a wingspan of just 10 inches! They live in woodpecker holes and natural cavities in trees. Their diet majorly contains moths, crickets, scorpions, and other bugs.

20 Most Common Types of Owl Species

Barn Owl 

The Common Barn Owl is one of the most common bird species. They are present everywhere around the world, except for deserts, poles, and some Pacific Islands. There are about 28 subspecies.

This owl has a heart-shaped pale white face and a square-shaped tail. It lives in rural areas like farmlands and woodlands. The barn owl has a wingspan of 13 to 15 inches and weighs roughly 9 ounces. It eats small mammals, reptiles, fish, insects, and smaller birds.

Snowy Owl

The Snowy Owl is also known as the white owl and the polar owl. Harry’s pet owl Hedwig in the Harry Potter movies is a Snowy Owl! It is a large, white owl commonly found in the Arctic regions.

It has mostly white feathers, to help it hide effectively in snowy regions. While most owls hunt at night and sleep during the day, the Snowy Owl is often active during the daytime as well. They usually hunt rodents, especially lemmings.

Elf Owl

The Elf Owl is the smallest and lightest species of Owls. It has pale yellow eyes with white eyebrows and a gray beak. They have fairly long legs for their size. There are 4 subspecies of the Elf Owl. They are most active during dusk and just before dawn, and like to hunt insects and scorpions.

Long-Eared Owl

The Long-Eared Owl is also called the cat owl. They are found in many areas in Europe and North America. They prefer to live in nests made by other birds in dense forests but hunt over open ground.

The Long-Eared Owl is medium-sized, slim, and long-winged. They are named for their prominent ear tufts. They have a wingspan of about 3 feet. They mainly feed on, small rodents, especially voles.

Spectacled Owl

The Spectacled Owl is a large tropical owl, found in forests throughout Central and South America. It has six subspecies. They feed on a variety of mammals including smaller monkeys! They have a blackish-brown head and upper body. They’re so-called because of white markings around their eyes, which makes it seem like they’re wearing a pair of glasses!

Oriental Bay Owl

The Oriental Bay Owl is a small barn owl. It is found in Southeast Asia and parts of India. They are generally seen in woodlands, plantations and mangrove swamps. They feed on small rodents, snakes, frogs, lizards, bats, and insects. They also make a variety of calls apart from hoots, like screams and high-pitched whistles!

Eastern Screech Owl

The Eastern Screech Owl is a small owl found in eastern North America. They have a large, round head with striking ear tufts, yellow eyes and a yellow beak. They are found in woodlands and parklands, sometimes even in the suburbs! Funnily, despite their name, these owls don’t actually screech! Instead, they make trembling and purring sounds.

Eurasian Eagle Owl

The Eurasian Eagle Owl is one of the largest owls, with wingspans up to 6 feet! As per its name, it is found in Eurasia. It has distinctly blackish ear tufts. They generally live in mountainous regions and prey on small mammals, reptiles, and birds. Tame Eagle Owls are also used for pest control!

Northern Hawk Owl

Northern Hawk Owls are medium-sized true owls, found in North America and Central Asia. It is one of the few species which hunts only during the day! They have dark brown wings with off-white spots and white stomachs. They also have long tails. They’re so-called because they look and fly like hawks!

Burrowing Owl

The Burrowing Owl is a small owl found in open areas in North and South America.  They’re active during the day, but hunt during nighttime. They have long legs to help them run as well as fly while hunting. They’re so-called because they nest in burrows made by other animals, such as prairie dogs!

Great Horned Owl

The Great Horned Owl is also known as the tiger owl. It is a large true owl found in the Americas. Its brown colored feathers with markings and spots allow it to hide effectively among trees. It’s named for its prominent horn-like ear tufts, called plumicorns.

Spotted Owl

Spotted Owls are found in old forests of western North America. They make nests in tree hollows and cracked rocks. They feed on small mammals and birds. Their feathers are generally shades of brown with white spots all over.

Great Gray Owl

The Great Gray Owl is the largest species of owl by length, growing up to 33 inches! It is found across the Northern Hemisphere. They have a gray face and upper body, but no ear tufts. They also have a white collar. They rely fully on small rodents for food.

Tawny Owl

The Tawny Owl is found in woodlands in Eurasia and North Africa. Its upper feathers are either brown or gray, and it generally nests in tree holes. They mainly hunt rodents by swallowing them whole. These owls are known best for their loud hoots!

Northern Pygmy Owl

Northern Pygmies are small owls found in forests and wetlands in western North America. They have a round, white-spotted head and dark wings and tails. They have two black spots behind their heads, which look like eyes! They feed on small mammals and insects.

Striped Owl

The Striped Owl is native to Central and South America. It has large ear tufts, short and round wings, and cinnamon feathers. Its head, back, wings and tail are brown with black stripes. They also have a pure white face with a black border.

Western Screech Owl

Western Screech Owls are small owls native to North and Central America. They look similar to Eastern Screech Owls, with yellow eyes and beaks. They are best identified from their call, which sounds like a series of short whistles. They also make a high pitched screech. They live in holes in trees or cacti opened by woodpeckers.

Spotted Wood Owl

Spotted Wood Owls are an earless species of owls. They have a chocolatey head with an orangish face and coffee-colored feathers. Their legs and toes are also feathered. They mainly feed on mice and rats. They are mainly found on islands around Borneo.

Owl Species List

Common NameSpecies Name
Greater sooty owlTyto tenebricosa
Lesser sooty owlTyto multipunctata
Minahassa masked owlTyto inexspectata
Taliabu masked owlTyto nigrobrunnea
Moluccan masked owlTyto sororcula
Manus masked owlTyto manusi
Golden masked owlTyto aurantia
Australian masked owlTyto novaehollandiae
Sulawesi masked owlTyto rosenbergii
Red owlTyto soumagnei
Western barn owlTyto alba
American barn owlTyto furcata
Eastern barn owlTyto javanica
Andaman masked owlTyto deroepstorffi
Ashy-faced owlTyto glaucops
African grass owlTyto capensis
Eastern grass owlTyto longimembris
Congo bay owlPhodilus prigoginei
Oriental bay owlPhodilus badius
Sri Lanka bay owlPhodilus assimilis
Papuan hawk-owlUroglaux dimorpha
Laughing owl (X)Ninox albifacies
Rufous owlNinox rufa
Powerful owlNinox strenua
Barking owlNinox connivens
Sumba boobookNinox rudolfi
Australian boobookNinox boobook
Rote boobookNinox rotiensis
Timor boobookNinox fusca
Alor boobookNinox plesseni
MoreporkNinox novaeseelandiae
Northern boobookNinox japonica
Brown hawk-owlNinox scutulata
Hume’s hawk-owlNinox obscura
Chocolate boobookNinox randi
Andaman hawk-owlNinox affinis
Luzon hawk-owlNinox philippensis
Mindanao hawk-owlNinox spilocephala
Camiguin hawk-owlNinox leventisi
Sulu hawk-owlNinox reyi
Cebu hawk-owlNinox rumseyi
Romblon hawk-owlNinox spilonotus
Mindoro hawk-owlNinox mindorensis
Little Sumba hawk-owlNinox sumbaensis
Togian boobookNinox burhani
Ochre-bellied boobookNinox ochracea
Cinnabar boobookNinox ios
Halmahera boobookNinox hypogramma
Buru boobookNinox hantu
Seram boobookNinox squamipila
Tanimbar boobookNinox forbesi
Christmas boobookNinox natalis
Manus boobookNinox meeki
Papuan boobookNinox theomacha
Speckled boobookNinox punctulata
New Britain boobookNinox odiosa
New Ireland boobookNinox variegata
Bare-legged owlMargarobyas lawrencii
Collared owletTaenioptynx brodiei
Sunda owletTaenioptynx sylvaticus
Elf owlMicrathene whitneyi
Long-whiskered owletXenoglaux loweryi
Boreal owlAegolius funereus
Northern saw-whet owlAegolius acadicus
Bermuda saw-whet owl (X)Aegolius gradyi
Unspotted saw-whet owlAegolius ridgwayi
Buff-fronted owlAegolius harrisii
Burrowing owlAthene cunicularia
Spotted owletAthene brama
Little owlAthene noctua
White-browed owlAthene superciliaris
Forest owletAthene blewitti
West Solomons owlAthene jacquinoti
Guadalcanal owlAthene granti
Malaita owlAthene malaitae
Makira owlAthene roseoaxillaris
Northern hawk-owlSurnia ulula
Eurasian pygmy owlGlaucidium passerinum
Pearl-spotted owletGlaucidium perlatum
Red-chested owletGlaucidium tephronotum
Sjöstedt’s barred owletGlaucidium sjostedti
Asian barred owletGlaucidium cuculoides
Javan owletGlaucidium castanopterum
Jungle owletGlaucidium radiatum
Chestnut-backed owletGlaucidium castanotum
African barred owletGlaucidium capense
Albertine owletGlaucidium albertinum
Northern pygmy owlGlaucidium californicum
Mountain pygmy owlGlaucidium gnoma
Baja pygmy owlGlaucidium hoskinsii
Guatemalan pygmy owlGlaucidium cobanense
Costa Rican pygmy owlGlaucidium costaricanum
Cloud-forest pygmy owlGlaucidium nubicola
Andean pygmy owlGlaucidium jardinii
Yungas pygmy owlGlaucidium bolivianum
Colima pygmy owlGlaucidium palmarum
Tamaulipas pygmy owlGlaucidium sanchezi
Central American pygmy owlGlaucidium griseiceps
Subtropical pygmy owlGlaucidium parkeri
Amazonian pygmy owlGlaucidium hardyi
East Brazilian pygmy owlGlaucidium minutissimum
Pernambuco pygmy owlGlaucidium mooreorum
Ferruginous pygmy owlGlaucidium brasilianum
Pacific pygmy owlGlaucidium peruanum
Austral pygmy owlGlaucidium nana
Cuban pygmy owlGlaucidium siju
Giant scops owlOtus gurneyi
White-fronted scops owlOtus sagittatus
Reddish scops owlOtus rufescens
Serendib scops owlOtus thilohoffmanni
Sandy scops owlOtus icterorhynchus
Sokoke scops owlOtus ireneae
Andaman scops owlOtus balli
Flores scops owlOtus alfredi
Mountain scops owlOtus spilocephalus
Javan scops owlOtus angelinae
Mindanao scops owlOtus mirus
Luzon scops owlOtus longicornis
Mindoro scops owlOtus mindorensis
Sao Tome scops owlOtus hartlaubi
Torotoroka scops owlOtus madagascariensis
Rainforest scops owlOtus rutilus
Mayotte scops owlOtus mayottensis
Karthala scops owlOtus pauliani
Anjouan scops owlOtus capnodes
Moheli scops owlOtus moheliensis
Reunion owl (X)Otus grucheti
Mauritius owl (X)Otus sauzieri
Rodrigues owl (X)Otus murivorus
Pemba scops owlOtus pembaensis
Eurasian scops owlOtus scops
Cyprus scops owlOtus cyprius
Pallid scops owlOtus brucei
Arabian scops owlOtus pamelae
African scops owlOtus senegalensis
Annobon scops owlOtus feae
Socotra scops owlOtus socotranus
Oriental scops owlOtus sunia
Ryukyu scops owlOtus elegans
Moluccan scops owlOtus magicus
Sula scops owlOtus sulaensis
Biak scops owlOtus beccarii
Sulawesi scops owlOtus manadensis
Banggai scops owlOtus mendeni
Siau scops owlOtus siaoensis
Sangihe scops owlOtus collari
Mantanani scops owlOtus mantananensis
Seychelles scops owlOtus insularis
Nicobar scops owlOtus alius
Simeulue scops owlOtus umbra
Enggano scops owlOtus enganensis
Mentawai scops owlOtus mentawi
Rajah scops owlOtus brookii
Indian scops owlOtus bakkamoena
Collared scops owlOtus lettia
Japanese scops owlOtus semitorques
Sunda scops owlOtus lempiji
Philippine scops owlOtus megalotis
Negros scops owlOtus nigrorum
Everett’s scops owlOtus everetti
Palawan scops owlOtus fuliginosus
Wallace’s scops owlOtus silvicola
Rinjani scops owlOtus jolandae
Palau owlOtus podarginus
Northern white-faced owlPtilopsis leucotis
Southern white-faced owlPtilopsis granti
Jamaican owlAsio grammicus
Striped owlAsio clamator
Long-eared owlAsio otus
Abyssinian owlAsio abyssinicus
Madagascar owlAsio madagascariensis
Stygian owlAsio stygius
Short-eared owlAsio flammeus
Marsh owlAsio capensis
Fearful owlAsio solomonensis
Maned owlJubula lettii
Snowy owlBubo scandiacus
Great horned owlBubo virginianus
Lesser horned owlBubo magellanicus
Eurasian eagle-owlBubo bubo
Indian eagle-owlBubo bengalensis
Pharaoh eagle-owlBubo ascalaphus
Cape eagle-owlBubo capensis
Arabian eagle-owlBubo milesi
Greyish eagle-owlBubo cinerascens
Spotted eagle-owlBubo africanus
Fraser’s eagle-owlBubo poensis
Usambara eagle-owlBubo vosseleri
Verreaux’s eagle-owlBubo lacteus
Shelley’s eagle-owlBubo shelleyi
Barred eagle-owlBubo sumatranus
Spot-bellied eagle-owlBubo nipalensis
Dusky eagle-owlBubo coromandus
Akun eagle-owlBubo leucostictus
Philippine eagle-owlBubo philippensis
Blakiston’s fish owlBubo blakistoni
Pel’s fishing owlScotopelia peli
Rufous fishing owlScotopelia ussheri
Vermiculated fishing owlScotopelia bouvieri
Brown fish owlKetupa zeylonensis
Tawny fish owlKetupa flavipes
Buffy fish owlKetupa ketupu
Flammulated owlPsiloscops flammeolus
Puerto Rican owlGymnasio nudipes
Whiskered screech owlMegascops trichopsis
Bare-shanked screech owlMegascops clarkii
White-throated screech owlMegascops albogularis
Tropical screech owlMegascops choliba
Bearded screech owlMegascops barbarus
Pacific screech owlMegascops cooperi
Western screech owlMegascops kennicottii
Eastern screech owlMegascops asio
Balsas screech owlMegascops seductus
Middle American screech owlMegascops guatemalae
Vermiculated screech owlMegascops vermiculatus
Koepcke’s screech owlMegascops koepckeae
Rufescent screech owlMegascops ingens
Cinnamon screech owlMegascops petersoni
Cloud-forest screech owlMegascops marshalli
Yungas screech owlMegascops hoyi
Choco screech owlMegascops centralis
Foothill screech owlMegascops roraimae
Long-tufted screech owlMegascops sanctaecatarinae
Santa Marta screech owlMegascops gilesi
West Peruvian screech owlMegascops roboratus
Tawny-bellied screech owlMegascops watsonii
Black-capped screech owlMegascops atricapilla
Spectacled owlPulsatrix perspicillata
Tawny-browed owlPulsatrix koeniswaldiana
Band-bellied owlPulsatrix melanota
Crested owlLophostrix cristata
Spotted wood owlStrix seloputo
Mottled wood owlStrix ocellata
Brown wood owlStrix leptogrammica
Tawny owlStrix aluco
Maghreb owlStrix mauritanica
Himalayan owlStrix nivicolum
Desert owlStrix hadorami
Omani owlStrix butleri
Spotted owlStrix occidentalis
Barred owlStrix varia
Cinereous owlStrix sartorii
Fulvous owlStrix fulvescens
Rusty-barred owlStrix hylophila
Chaco owlStrix chacoensis
Rufous-legged owlStrix rufipes
Ural owlStrix uralensis
Pere David’s owlStrix davidi
Great grey owlStrix nebulosa
African wood owlStrix woodfordii
Mottled owlStrix virgata
Black-and-white owlStrix nigrolineata
Black-banded owlStrix huhula
Rufous-banded owlStrix albitarsis

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