13 Different Types of Owls in Europe

Different Types of Owls in Europe
Photo by Pixabay

Europe is home to some of the world’s most majestic birds, and owls are no exception.

Whether you’re visiting for a few days or months, you’ll likely encounter one of the many types of owls in Europe.

From the Great Grey Owl to the Eurasian Pygmy Owl, each owl has its own unique characteristics.

In this blog post, we will explore the types of owls in Europe that you can find and discuss their habitat, diet, and behavior.

1. Little Owl

The Little Owl is one of the most common types of owls in Europe. They are easily identified by their small size, brown plumage, and white throat feathers. The Little Owl is found throughout Europe and parts of Asia, living in open areas such as grasslands and meadows, as well as cities and gardens. 

This species is relatively easy to find, often seen perched on trees or walls during the day, making them a popular choice for wildlife photographers. While they do not have the most impressive vocalizations, Little Owls can be heard calling at night in areas where they live.

2. Great Gray Owl

They are magnificent raptors if you’re fortunate enough to witness one. Many individuals believe they appear to be carrying a bowtie around their neck and wearing a grey suit! Although they have a large range, these owls prefer to live in a forest next to a clearing. 

When it’s cold outside, they need a lot of space to listen for mice scurrying under the snow so they can break through and catch supper. Additionally, due to their size, they consume up to 7 rodents per day, which is a lot of food. NEVER do grey-gray owls construct nests. 

These are types of owls in Europe that merely employ those that other large birds produce. What a powerhouse of efficiency! These owls will bravely protect their claimed nests, even from bears, once they have claimed them.

They make a strong, aggressive, and distinctive call that sounds like “whooooo, woo, woo, woo.” Additionally, they employ a soft double hoot to defend their territory or feed their young.

3. Short-Eared Owl

The Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) is an owl species found in many parts of Europe. It has a unique look, with its yellow eyes and mottled brown feathers. The owls live in meadows, grasslands, and other open habitats, where they hunt small mammals, amphibians, and reptiles. 

These types of owls in Europe are nocturnal, meaning they are mostly active at night. During the day, they can rest in tall grasses or trees. The Short-eared Owl is a migratory species, meaning it spends the winter months in warmer climates and returns to Europe for the summer.

Short-eared Owls are a threatened species in Europe, primarily due to habitat loss and degradation. Some countries, such as the UK, are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act. 

Conservation efforts to help protect this species are underway, including creating new habitats and improving existing habitats for these owls. As they continue to decline in Europe, it is important that we take steps to protect them before they become extinct.

4. Long-Eared Owl

The Long-eared Owl is a species of owl found in Europe and parts of Asia. It has tufts of feathers on its head that look like ears, giving it its name. This species is active mainly during the night and prefers wooded areas, where it can find plenty of prey. Its diet consists of small mammals, birds, amphibians, insects, and earthworms. 

The Long-eared Owl, one of the types of owls in Europe, is often seen perched in a tree or on a fence post near its nesting site. During the breeding season, the Long-eared Owl can be quite vocal, making a loud “hoot” call to attract mates. The Long-eared Owl has an impressive wingspan of up to 1.2 meters and can reach speeds of up to 40 kilometers per hour. 

When hunting, this owl will silently glide through the air to sneak up on its unsuspecting prey. This species is not as common as some other species of owls in Europe, but its presence is still strong, and its numbers are increasing. As a result of conservation efforts, the Long-eared Owl population is stable, and their numbers are likely to continue to grow.

5. Northern Hawk Owl

Northern Hawk Owls behave more like hawks than owls, as their name says! These owls have unusual characteristics for owls—they sit alone in big trees and hunt during the day. Due to their ability to be consumed whole and general abundance, voles are a major food source for Northern Hawk Owls. 

They will also consume young hares, red squirrels, mice, rats, and lemmings. These are types of owls in Europe that can even eat smaller songbirds in their diet! Males utter a low, rolling “hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo” sound between ten and two hundred times. Similar cries are made by females, although they are hoarser and shorter.

6. Tawny Owl

The Tawny Owl (Strix aluco) is a species of owl found in many parts of Europe. It is the most common owl in its range and the only owl species in the family Strigidae native to the continent. The Tawny Owl has a wide range, occurring from Great Britain, France, and Germany, to Estonia and Finland. It prefers a habitat of mature deciduous or mixed woodland, parks, and gardens. 

The Tawny Owl has a mottled brown-and-black plumage with yellow eyes. Its call is often heard in the evening and is quite vocal at night. Its diet consists mainly of small mammals, insects, and other small prey. It is not left out of this list of the different types of owls in Europe! 

7. Eurasian Eagle Owl

The Eurasian eagle owl (Bubo bubo) is one of Europe’s most impressive birds of prey. Found in many areas throughout the continent, it has a wingspan of up to almost 2 meters. This owl is also one of the largest of its kind, with a mass ranging between 2.5 and 4.5 kg. 

Although they can be found mainly in coniferous and deciduous forests, they also inhabit mountainous regions and grasslands. They feed mainly on small mammals such as hares, rabbits, rats, and other rodents. These owls have distinct plumage and coloring: their head, throat, and upper chest are usually brownish-gray, while their underparts are whitish or grayish-white. 

The back is streaked with gray and white. Its eyes are yellow with black centers, and it has short, broad wings. These types of owls in Europe are nocturnal and are most active during the night and early morning hours. In addition, they can be heard from far away as they have a distinctive call that sounds like a deep hooting noise.

8. Barn Owl

The Barn Owl is one of the most widely distributed types of owls in Europe. It is found throughout the continent, from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean countries. The Barn Owl is quite small and has a white face with a heart-shaped facial disk. Its plumage is mostly brownish-gray with a white underbelly. 

The bird preys mainly on small mammals such as voles, mice, shrews, and rats. It hunts mainly in open fields, meadows, and pastures. The species is considered endangered due to human activity’s destruction of their natural habitats. Conservation measures have been adopted in several European countries to protect them, such as creating wildlife sanctuaries and providing habitat protection laws.

9. Eurasian Scops Owl

The Eurasian Scops Owl is one of Europe’s most widespread owl species. It is a small bird of prey with a white face, large yellow eyes, and a greyish-brown body. It inhabits mainly open woodlands, deciduous forests, parks, gardens, and hedgerows. They usually hunt at dusk and dawn by perching on a tree branch and waiting for their prey. They mainly feed on insects, although they occasionally feed on small birds and rodents. 

The Eurasian Scops Owl is an important part of the ecosystem in Europe. They help control the population of pests and provide a food source for other predators. They are also popular in many European cities, often seen perched on rooftops or trees. They, aside from being types of owls in Europe, are usually quite shy birds, so it is not always easy to spot them in the wild.

10. Tengmalm’s Owl

Tengmalm’s Owl (Aegolius funereus) is one of the most widespread types of owls in Europe. Found throughout northern and central Europe, this small, nocturnal bird is a specialist predator of small rodents and birds. Although Tengmalm’s Owls are generally solitary, they sometimes congregate in small family groups during the breeding season. 

In addition, during winter months, these birds can be found in large flocks of up to 200 individuals. Characteristically, the Tengmalm’s Owl has a white face, grey upper parts, and a brownish-barred underside. It also has distinctive yellow eyes, a black beak, and ear tufts. With a wingspan of roughly 36 cm, Tengmalm’s Owls are one of the smallest owl species in Europe.

11. Eurasian Pygmy Owl

The Eurasian Pygmy Owl is one of the smallest types of owls in Europe, measuring just 14 to 16 centimeters in length and weighing only 30 to 35 grams. Its head and upper parts are gray-brown with white and light brown spotting, while its underparts are white with reddish-brown streaks. 

This owl is native to Scandinavia, Russia, and some parts of the UK, where it prefers wooded areas with dense tree canopies and can be found from sea level up to an altitude of 1600 meters. In terms of diet, this owl feeds primarily on small birds and mammals, such as mice and voles. They are also known to hunt during the day and at night.

12. Ural Owl

The Ural Owl (Strix uralensis) is a large species of owl native to Europe. This owl has an impressive wingspan that ranges from 110 to 130 cm and can weigh up to 1 kg. These particular types of owls in Europe are brown in color with distinctive white markings on their back. 

Ural Owls are known to inhabit forests, parks, and gardens as well as urban areas. They are mostly nocturnal and can be found hunting at night for small mammals, insects, amphibians, and birds. These owls breed in the summer months and build their nests on top of trees or abandoned buildings. Ural Owls are a great addition to any area and are a delight to watch!

13. Snowy Owl

One of the most beautiful animals on the earth is the snowy owl, one of the many types of owls in Europe. Almost everyone, birders and non-birders alike, are stopped in their tracks by their white plumage! They are largely white, but all over their bodies, excluding the face and breast, are horizontal, dark lines. 

Interestingly, Snowy Owls travel with the seasons and appear whiter as they age. On the northern tundra, they reproduce during the summer. But when winter approaches, these birds migrate south to warmer climates.

Most years, Snowy Owls sightings are limited to northern Europe. But occasionally, there is a Snowy Owl “irruption,” causing a large increase in the number of birds that migrate south.


Do you love owls? Are you curious to know what types of owls in Europe exist? In the above guide, we looked at the types of owls in Europe that you could find.

From the Pygmy Owl to the Eagle Owl, we explored these fascinating birds of prey and their unique features. So now, you can grab your binoculars and get on your adventure of identifying the various types of owls in Europe!

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