8 Types of Owls in Florida

Types of Owls in Florida
Photo by Zdeněk Macháček

Have you ever looked into the night sky and wondered what types of owls in Florida might also be living in your backyard?

Florida is home to many owl species, many of which you may not know to exist. 

From the diminutive Elf Owl to the stately Great Horned Owl, Florida has no shortage of avian predators.

In our blog post, we’ll explore some of the most interesting types of owls in Florida that call the Sunshine State home, so you can get to know them better.

1. Eastern Screech Owl

The Eastern Screech Owl is first on our list of types of owls in Florida.

These small, nocturnal birds can be seen roosting in hollow trees during the day and hunting for small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and insects at night. 

They have gray, brown, and red-brown feathers that provide camouflage in their tree habitat, and their distinctive call is often heard at dusk and dawn.

The Eastern Screech Owl is an important part of the Florida ecosystem, helping to keep insect populations in check.

2. Burrowing Owl

The burrowing owl is a small, slender owl with a white-streaked face and bright yellow eyes.

It is found mainly in the dry areas of Florida and prefers open, short-grass prairies for its habitat. 

The burrowing owl is about 10 inches tall, with the males slightly larger than the females.

They live in underground burrows dug by other animals, such as prairie dogs or armadillos, and are most active during the day. 

Burrowing owls are primarily ground-dwellers and feed on small mammals, insects, and sometimes amphibians or reptiles. They also eat fruit and seeds.

Due to its small size and unique characteristics, the burrowing owl is a species of special concern in Florida.

Habitat destruction has been a major factor in the decline of this species in the state, and efforts are being made to protect their habitat and conserve the remaining populations. 

Burrowing types of owls in Florida can be found in some protected areas in south and central Florida, such as Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park.

However, they remain one of the least studied birds in the state, and more research is needed to understand their population dynamics.

3. Great horned owl

This is the next on our list of types of owls in Florida. The great horned owl is one of the most recognizable owls in  Florida.

It has a wide range throughout the state and is often found near densely wooded areas. 

This owl has very distinctive markings, including a large, round head with two prominent tufts of feathers on either side.

The wings are broad, and their eyes are yellow. They are known for their loud, booming hoots that can be heard at night. 

These owls in Florida prey upon various small animals, including rabbits, birds, amphibians, and reptiles.

The great horned owl is also one of the most formidable predators in Florida. They have excellent vision, which helps them spot potential prey from afar. 

They also have powerful talons and beaks, allowing them to capture and kill their prey easily.

Despite their impressive hunting skills, they can sometimes be outwitted by their quarry, so they must remain vigilant and attentive when searching for food.

As apex predators, they play an important role in keeping the local ecosystem balanced.

4. Barred Owl

The Barred Owl is one of the most recognizable owls in Florida. It is a medium-sized owl with dark eyes, barred wings, and a white facial disk.

It has a light to dark brown body and dark, vertical stripes on its wings and tail.

It is home in large, dense forests where it preys on small mammals, reptiles, birds, and amphibians. 

The Barred Owl is quite vocal, and its hooting call can be heard at night in many areas throughout Florida.

5. Short-eared Owl

The Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) is a unique owl species found in Florida. This owl can be identified by its small size and yellow-brown mottled feathers.

It has a short ear tuft and large yellow eyes. Its wings are short and rounded, and it typically hunts during the day, when it is more likely to catch prey. 

It can be found in grasslands, meadows, marshes, and wetlands. Its diet mostly consists of small mammals, such as rodents, bats, and birds.

The Short-eared Owl nests in trees or on the ground and is known for its aerial displays, in which the male performs dives and circles high up in the air to attract a mate.

They are listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List and can usually be found year-round in Florida. 

In addition to the Eastern Screech Owl, Burrowing Owl, Great Horned Owl, and Barred Owl, the Short-eared Owl is one of Florida’s most common types of owl.

With its distinctive plumage and hunting habits, it is an interesting species to observe and can provide a great opportunity for bird watchers to add a new owl species to their life list.

6. Barn Owl

The Barn Owl is also one of Florida’s most recognizable types of owl. The Barn Owl is unique among other owl species because its head is almost completely white, and its back is reddish-brown. 

These beautiful types of owls in Florida are widespread throughout the state, making their homes in fields, pastures, meadows, and woodlands.

They can also fly around wetlands and rivers at night, looking for prey. The diet of the Barn Owl typically consists of small mammals such as mice and voles, as well as insects and other small animals.

It’s important to note that Barn Owls are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and should not be disturbed or harassed.

7. Snowy Owl

This is the next on our list of types of owls in Florida. The Snowy Owl is a unique sight for Florida birders. It is a large, white owl with yellow eyes and a black beak.

Florida’s majestic types of owls can be found in open areas, like wetlands, marshes, and shorelines. 

They tend to roost and hunt during the day, so you’ll want to ensure you’re out early for the best viewing experience.

The snowy owl typically migrates south during the winter months, so it’s possible to spot these majestic creatures in Florida.

If you’re lucky, you may even get the chance to see an owl in its natural habitat!

8. Northern Saw-Whet Owl

This is the last on our list of types of owls in Florida. The Northern Saw-whet Owl is one of the smallest owl species in Florida.

It can be found across the entire state but is most common in the northern and central parts.

The owl’s small size, approximately 8 to 10 inches tall, makes it difficult to spot. Its colors are usually light brown with white spots on its head and chest. 

This owl is also known for its distinctive call and loud whistles. They can often be seen perched on tree branches and hunting for rodents like mice and voles at night.

Conclusion

Florida is home to a wide variety of birds; among them are some very interesting species of owls.

While many people know about the more common types of owls in Florida, such as the Great Horned Owl, Barred Owl, and Eastern Screech-Owl, many other owl species call Florida home.

In our blog post, we have looked at some of the lesser-known types of owls in Florida and explored some of the unique characteristics of each type of owl in Florida.

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