12 Types of Owls in Colorado

Types of Owls in Colorado
Photo by Saketh Upadhya

Are you an avid bird watcher looking to learn more about the types of owls in Colorado?

If so, then you’ve come to the right place! Colorado is home to a diverse range of owl species, all of which can be seen and heard in the many different habitats across the state.

From the majestic Great Horned Owl to the tiny Northern Saw-whet Owl, Colorado is a haven for these nocturnal creatures. 

This blog post will explore the different types of owls that call Colorado home, including what makes each one unique and where you can find them in the wild.

Read on to learn the different types of owls in Colorado and discover why they make Colorado such a great place to observe birds!

Let’s dive in!

1. Burrowing Owl

The burrowing owl is one of the most iconic types of owls in Colorado. It is characterized by its small size, short tail, and long legs. This species is found mainly in the western part of the state but can also be spotted in other areas. It prefers to nest in grasslands and other open areas with plenty of burrows and nesting spots. 

During the day, these birds usually stay in their burrows, although they may come out for a few minutes to search for food. They have various diets, including insects, small mammals, and even some vegetation. The burrowing owl also hunts during the night and can often be heard calling as it travels from one burrow to another.

2. Snowy Owl

The Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) is a beautiful owl species found in Colorado. This majestic bird has a wingspan of up to five feet and can weigh up to five pounds. With its unique white feathers, yellow eyes, and black beak, the Snowy Owl is a stunning sight to behold in Colorado.

Moving on, it lives in grasslands, meadows, and open fields and hunts for small animals such as mice, voles, and lemmings. While it does hunt during the day, it is mostly active at night. In the winter months, it migrates to Colorado and can be seen perched on fence posts or posts of telephone poles.

The Snowy Owl, one of the types of owls in Colorado, is an important species to the state’s environment. They help control the populations of small animals, and their presence serves as an indicator of the health of their habitat. 

As predators of small animals, they keep ecosystems balanced and prevent certain animal populations from becoming overabundant. If you are lucky enough to see a Snowy Owl in Colorado, make sure to watch it carefully, as this amazing species deserves our respect and appreciation!

3. Great Horned Owl

The Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) is a large species of owl native to North and South America. They are well adapted to their habitat, as they can live in both lowlands and mountainous areas of Colorado. It is one of the most common and widespread types of owls in Colorado, often seen in fields, meadows, and even towns and cities. 

The Great Horned Owl has large ear tufts on the top of its head, giving it its name. Its wings are short and broad, its tail is long, and its plumage is usually brownish-gray or black with white or light brown streaks. 

These owls feed mainly on small mammals such as mice, rats, rabbits, and squirrels but also consume birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and carrion. They typically hunt at night and dawn, using their sharp eyesight and hearing to locate prey.

4. Eastern Screech Owl

The Eastern Screech Owl is a small owl that is mostly found in the East of Colorado. It has a rusty or gray-colored feather pattern, and its head has white stripes. It also has yellow eyes and is capable of making high-pitched screeches. These owls are often found near woodlands, open fields, and residential areas. 

They are also on this list of the types of owls in Colorado and feed on small rodents, insects, and other small animals. They are active during the day and night, but their hunting activity occurs mostly at night. The Eastern Screech Owl is an important part of Colorado’s ecology and can be seen throughout the state. 

The species has been identified as a species of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. These owls have been able to adjust to urban areas, and they are seen more often in developed areas than they are in more remote areas. They have adapted well to urban and suburban environments, making them an essential part of Colorado’s wildlife.

5. Western Screech Owl

Compared to other types of owls in Colorado, the Western Screech Owl is an elusive species. The species is relatively small, typically measuring only 8-10 inches in length. This owl has greyish-brown feathers with white or grey spots and a brown, streaked face pattern. 

The Western Screech Owl can often be found in coniferous forests, as well as mountain meadows and riparian areas. They are active during the day and night and hunt insects, small rodents, and birds. The Western Screech Owl population in Colorado is believed to be healthy due to proper habitat management and protection of their nesting sites. 

However, the population is threatened by the destruction of natural habitats, making it essential to take steps to ensure that their habitats remain intact. With the right protection and conservation measures, the Western Screech Owl population in Colorado can thrive and continue providing valuable environmental services.

6. Flammulated Owl

The Flammulated Owl is an owl found in Colorado and other parts of the western United States. These small owls are generally brown or gray in color, with black spots on the wings and head. They are types of owls in Colorado, and they have long, thin tails and yellow eyes. 

These owls prefer open conifer forests and can roost in tree cavities, under rock ledges, or in other sheltered areas during the day. They feed primarily on insects and spiders and are active mainly at night. Flammulated Owls are quite rare in Colorado, making up less than 1% of all owl species found in the state. 

Despite this rarity, they can still be spotted by keen-eyed birdwatchers during the summer months. They can be easily identified by their size, coloring, and their distinct call, which has been described as sounding like a slow trill or a hooting. If you’re lucky enough to spot one of these rare birds, be sure to report your sighting to your local birding organization.

7. Barn Owl

The barn owl (Tyto alba) is one of the most widely distributed types of owls in Colorado and can be found in many types of habitats, from grasslands to semi-arid deserts. It has a pale facial disk with a heart-shaped outline, long legs, and toes.

The barn owl has yellowish or white feathers and is easily recognized by its distinctive call, which is a loud, low-pitched, screeching sound. They usually live in hollow trees or burrows in the ground. 

In addition, these owls are active at night, and they are mainly solitary creatures. They eat mainly small rodents like mice and voles, but they also take small birds, frogs, and insects. Barn owls are considered beneficial because they help control rodent populations and may also help control insect pests. 

They are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation due to urbanization and other human activities. To conserve them, it is important to maintain suitable habitats in their natural range.

8. Northern Saw-Whet Owl

The Northern Saw-whet Owl is one of the most common types of owls in Colorado. These owls are small, but they have an impressive wingspan of 15 to 20 inches, and their characteristic call is a quick series of whistles that sound like “too-too-too.” They tend to inhabit the evergreen forests of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, preferring areas with dense coniferous trees. 

They can be spotted during the day as they roost or hunt at night. Northern Saw-whet Owls are incredibly adaptable and can easily survive in many different habitats. They use their strong talons to catch prey, and they eat a variety of small animals, including mice, voles, and insects. 

These owls can be identified by their distinctive yellow eyes, white facial disk, and gray-brown plumage. While Northern Saw-whet Owls can be found in other parts of the United States, they are particularly prevalent in Colorado, making them an amazing sight for any bird watcher.

9. Boreal Owl

The Boreal Owl is one of the smaller species of owls that can be found in Colorado. This medium-sized owl has mottled brown and white plumage, bright yellow eyes, and a black beak. It prefers to inhabit boreal forests and makes its home among coniferous trees, where it is most often found during the day. 

These owls feed primarily on small mammals such as voles and mice, although they will also eat small birds and insects. Boreal Owls are active mostly at night when they can easily spot their prey with their sharp vision. They can often be spotted in the foothills and mountain regions of Colorado during winter months.

These particular types of owls in Colorado make their homes in cavities, hollows, or nests built by other animals. They are quite vocal and can be heard calling out their trilled territorial call during the breeding season. Boreal owls are known to mate for life and typically lay up to four eggs per clutch. 

During the summer months, these owls may migrate to higher altitudes, where temperatures are cooler and food is more abundant. Despite their decreasing population, these owls can still be found in Colorado and other parts of the western United States.

10. Short-Eared Owl

The Short-Eared Owl is one of the fascinating types of owls in Colorado. These beautiful birds can be seen flying around during the day or even after dark. They have distinctive white faces with dark eyes and pale, yellowish breasts. Short-Eared Owls are generally smaller than other owls, measuring approximately 9-10 inches in length with a wingspan of up to 19 inches.

These owls are found throughout the state of Colorado in grasslands and open areas such as meadows and agricultural fields. They feed on small mammals such as voles and mice, as well as other small birds and insects. 

These birds can often be seen hovering over an area, looking for prey before swooping down and catching it in their talons. Short-Eared Owls are a wonderful sight to behold in Colorado!

11. Long-Eared Owl

The Long-Eared Owl is an impressive raptor that lives in Colorado and the surrounding region. It’s one of the largest owls in North America, with an average wingspan of up to 44 inches! This owl has distinct long ear tufts, which gives them its name. 

They usually nest in open coniferous or mixed forests and feed primarily on small mammals such as mice and voles. Though they are not as common as other types of owls in Colorado, they can be seen around the state during certain times of the year. 

During winter, the Long-Eared Owls migrate south to warmer climates but will sometimes stay if suitable. If you’re lucky enough to spot one of these beautiful creatures, you’ll be able to witness a remarkable feathered wonder right in your backyard!

12. Spotted Owl

The spotted owl is a medium-sized bird of prey found in western North America. It is one of the most widely distributed owl species in Colorado and can be found in the state’s northern and central mountain ranges. Spotted owls have been observed to inhabit forests and woodlands, primarily in coniferous or mixed coniferous/deciduous stands with a high canopy cover. However, they also sometimes hunt in open fields. 

They are mainly active at night and roost during the day, often taking refuge in trees or crevices among rocks. The spotted owl’s diet consists of small mammals such as mice, voles, moles, and gophers, but they are also known to take birds, amphibians, reptiles, and even insects. They prefer a hunting ground with plenty of covers to hunt stealthily. 

Spotted owls, the last on this list of the different types of owls in Colorado, build nests in cavities and on top of platforms or logs. They are monogamous and usually mate for life, with a pair typically returning to the same nesting site each year. The eggs are incubated for about a month before hatching.


Colorado is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including many fascinating species of owls. These majestic birds can be found in many different habitats across the state and come in various sizes and colors. From the smallest screech owl to the largest great horned owl, each type of owl has its own unique set of characteristics and behaviors that make it special. 

In this guide, we explored the different types of owls in Colorado and discussed some of their fascinating qualities. Please read the above to learn more about the amazing owls of Colorado!

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