10 Types of Owls in Alabama

types of owls in alabama
Photo by Iuri Albuquerque

Alabama is a state in the United States southeast known for its southern hospitality, role as the birthplace of the civil rights movement, and history of civil rights struggles. There are many different types of owls in Alabama.

This state contains more than 60 different types of natural ecosystems, including forests, woodlands, marshes, meadows, and grasslands.

These areas are home to around 420 distinct bird species that have been recognized in Alabama.

One of the many bird species present in the state is the owl. Our article will teach you about the types of owls in Alabama and how to identify them based on their appearance, noises, and migratory patterns.

Let’s go through the types of owls in Alabama.

1. Great Horned Owl

The great-horned owl(Bubo, Virginias) is first on our list of types of owls in Alabama. It is a massive owl with banded bellies and a typically appealing gray top. Their colors vary depending on where they are.

They feature prominent white feathering on their collars and projecting ear tufts. Their faces are sometimes described as having a “catlike” appearance.

Great horned types of owls in Alabama are year-round residents of Alabama, but they are most common from September through April. They are available all year in Alabama.

Their ability to live in various environments accounts for their widespread dispersion.

Backyards, cities, tundra margins, grasslands, rainforests, deserts, wetlands, and cities are all included.

Regarding owl hoots, great horned owls’ typical hoo hoo-HOO sound could be deemed classic.

2. Eastern Screech Owl

The Eastern screech owl(Megascops asio) has no neck and is a tiny, stout-looking bird. One-third of these types of owls in Alabama are red, although they can also be gray.

They have “fake” ear tufts and a black ring around their facial disk. Their shoulders feature white markings, and their stomachs have blotchy patterns.

The eastern screech owl can be seen in Alabama annually (you can spot them in almost all wooded areas).

They usually mate for life. However, the male will stray and mate with another female on occasion.

They communicate in a low, horse-like, whiny tone. Because they are so well concealed, the trick to recognizing them is to educate your ears to recognize their lovely voice.

Their calls include a range of hoots, screeches, and whistles. A shrill, descending whinny and a tremolo, a continuous bouncing call, are two of the most common.

3. Barn Owl

Barn owls (Tyto Alba) are distinguished by their small stature, serrated middle claws, and heart-shaped facial disk. Their wings are long and rounded, and their tails are short and square.  

They have long legs and bare feet. The plumage of both sexes is generally comparable, even though females are slightly larger and darker than males.

In flight, their exquisite white faces and underwings make them stand out. The rest of their body color could be buffy cinnamon, yellowish/gold, or even rusty.

All other owl species pale in comparison. They are the only members of their family to represent them in North America (the other members of this list are the Strigidae family “true owls”). Barn types of owls in Alabama do not appear during the day because they are totally nocturnal. 

These types of owls in Alabama can be observed all year in Alabama. Barn owls don’t create much “hoot,” unlike real owls. Instead, they yell, hiss, shriek, whistle, and screech. When asking for food, the female will emit a gentler call; however, these sounds are more typical of the male.

4. Short-Eared Owl

The short-eared owl(Asio flammeus)  is a medium-sized, tawny-brown mottled owl found throughout North America. They prefer open areas, such as airports, farms, and wetlands.

Like their relative, the long-eared owl, they prefer to breed further north, although you might spot one in Alabama from November to mid-March. Short-eared types of owls in Alabama are suitably named due to their short ear tufts, which are rarely observed until they are in a defensive position.

Because they hunt mostly at dawn and twilight, these owls are frequently seen during the day. They will occasionally wait for prey on the ground, soar low and swoop down to take whatever food they provide.

Despite being elusive and difficult to spot, short-eared owls are among the most abundant in the world, with populations found in every state in the United States. The short-eared owl has a quiet voice. During courting, males emit their main call, a dozen or more hoots in sequence, either in flight, on the ground, or from a high perch. Males and females can bark, scream, or whine about defending the nest and offspring.

5. Burrowing Owl

Burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia) are small, long-legged birds that nest in prairie dog tunnels (hence its name). They are considered an uncommon or accidental species in Alabama, with only a few records of sightings in the state’s southern parts. 

Burrowing types of owls in Alabama with no ear tufts have brown feathers with many white spots. They have yellow eyes, bills, and other distinguishing characteristics. A white patch appears on their chins when they bob their heads or become agitated.

Burrowing owls can be found in farmland, open meadows, deserts, and plains. They build subterranean shelters for their nests, hunt on the ground, and perch on fence posts.

6. Northern Saw-Whet Owl

The Northern saw-whet owl(Aegolius acadius), one of North America’s smallest owls, is about the size of a robin. They are small and brown, with broad, rounded heads and slight white streaks. 

They have stunning yellow eyes with powerful white feathers making a “Y” in between their bright yellow eyes. White spots on a brown backdrop cover their wings and backs. They have white bellies and brown-striped chests.

The saw-whet owl’s call, which sounds like a saw blade on a whetstone, may have inspired the bird’s name. These types of owls in Alabama reside in dense coniferous forests, where their nests are hidden among the tall branches and overhanging plants. They prefer to reside near a field or a body of water where they may hunt.

7. Long-Eared Owl

The name “long-eared owl” (Asio otus) refers to the conspicuous ear tufts of these medium-sized, slender owls. Splotches of brown, white, buff and gray cover their top bodies.

Their underparts are notably cross-barred, with colors ranging from orange to brown to black and white. Their tails are white with dark brown bands.

They have a shocked expressions due to their facial disc and mustache-like feathers around their bill. Long-eared types of owls in Alabama are an accidental species in Alabama. They are extremely rare in the state. 

These types of owls in Alabama can be seen hunting in open meadows and sleeping in wooded areas with dense coniferous or deciduous trees. The lush foliage of these trees serves to conceal them from prospective predators. Although they are normally quiet owls, during the breeding season, they will create a slow, steady “whooo-whooo-whooo” sound.

8. Snowy Owl

Snowy owls (Bubo Scandiacus) are next on our list of types of owls in Alabama. They have brilliant yellow eyes and totally feathered legs and feet to shield themselves from the freezing, harsh weather of the Arctic. Their tails have full bars, but their wingtips only have broad, dark bars. 

These owls are considered an accidental and threatened species in Alabama. Snowy types of owls in Alabama can be found throughout the Arctic tundra, but they prefer to nest in locations with vantage points such as hummocks, ridges, knolls, and bluffs so they can keep a close check on their surroundings.

They may go to locations with shrubby ecosystems similar to the Arctic, such as prairies, lakes, and coastal dunes. Snowy types of owls in Alabama hunt throughout the summer day in the Arctic, unlike most other owls. They let out a gruff “Hoo.” They will also hoot, whistle, and hiss if threatened.

9. Barred Owl

The barred owl’s tail and wings are barred and spotted in brown and white. Their tan bellies feature brown striping. Make eye contact regardless of how dark their eyes are. These types of owls in Alabama like damp, mixed-forest environments. 

Uplands, forested riverbanks, and wetlands are examples of this. In Alabama, these owls can be spotted all year. They would rather stay put and not migrate.

Barred owls(Strix Varia) are likelier than many other species to be heard during the day. They can be easily summoned by imitation. When you hear a voice ask, “Who cooks for you? It’s probably a Barred Owl who cooks for you all while you’re out at night.

10. Flammulated Owl

Lastly, on our list of types of owls in Alabama is Flammulated owls. They are a small migratory species found in North America. They have gray or rufous coloring and blend in well with trees.

Their reddish-brown face disk contrasts with their black eyes and white brows. They are the only little owls with rectangular heads and black eyes (the others have yellow eyes).

The English name “flammulated owl” comes from the Latin word “flammeolus,” which means “flame-colored or with flame-like patterns.”These little types of owls in Alabama are found in forests. They love mature, open trees, especially with many natural nesting cavities. They shout, peep, and make various calls. Furthermore, males make low hoots.


Alabama is home to different owl species. Some of these types of owls in Alabama, provided by our blog, are rarely seen. 

You have a good chance of viewing these remarkable creatures because the state has exceptional bird hotspots. Maintain your safety while doing so.

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