8 Types of Owls in Indiana

Types of Owls in Indiana
Photo by Dariusz Grosa

Are you an owl enthusiast looking for the various types of owls in Indiana? If so, you’re in luck! The state is home to different species of owls, which can be found in various habitats throughout Hoosier State. From the Barred Owl to the Eastern Screech-Owl, each of these species has its own unique characteristics and behaviors. 

This blog post will provide an overview of the types of owls in Indiana you can find and some tips for spotting them. So grab your binoculars and get ready to learn more about these amazing creatures!

1. Short-Eared Owl

The Short-eared Owl is one of the different types of owls in Indiana. It is medium-sized with brownish-mottled plumage and distinctive long ear tufts on the top of its head. It can be seen year-round in the state and prefers open fields, grasslands, and marshes. 

The Short-eared Owl is an active hunter during the day, though it will also hunt at night. It typically hunts small rodents but can also prey upon insects, reptiles, amphibians, and small birds. It nests in shallow depressions on the ground and typically lays four to six eggs each season. These owls are declining in numbers due to habitat destruction and may become threatened in the future. 

In Indiana, the Short-eared Owl can be found in the northern and central parts of the state. This species is most commonly seen during its migration period between late October and early April, when the owls come south to escape colder climates. 

During this time, they can be spotted perched atop trees or flying low over meadows in search of prey. The best places to view these types of owls in Indiana are the Crane-Phillips Wildlife Area and the Yellow River State Forest.

2. Eastern Screech Owl

The Eastern Screech Owl (Megascops asio) is one of the most common types of owls in Indiana. The Eastern Screech Owl is a small to medium-sized bird with distinct reddish-brown or grey coloring and typically measures between 6-9 inches long with a wingspan of about 20 inches. They can be found in deciduous and mixed wood forests, living in cavities of dead trees, abandoned buildings, and nest boxes. They feed on insects, small mammals, and some fruits.

The Eastern Screech Owl is active mainly at night and can be heard hooting softly during dusk and dawn. They are relatively easy to spot since they often perch on exposed limbs during the day. These owls can also be attracted to backyards with a good water source, some dense vegetation, and nest boxes. With the proper habitat and nest boxes, Eastern Screech Owls can be encouraged to stay close to human dwellings.

3. Great Horned Owl

The Great Horned Owl is a large, powerful raptor found in Indiana. This species of owl has a large head with prominent tufts of feathers and large yellow eyes. Its body is thick and heavily feathered, ranging in color from light brown to dark gray. 

The Great Horned Owl is the most common and widely distributed owl species in the United States, and it is one of the most commonly seen types of owls in Indiana. The Great Horned Owl is a predator, and its diet consists mostly of small mammals, such as rodents and rabbits. It also feeds on smaller birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects. 

During the breeding season, these birds are known to vocalize, with males producing a series of hoots and females producing a series of shrieks. They are usually found in wooded areas and are known to nest in tree cavities or use the abandoned nests of other species of birds.

4. Snowy Owl

The Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) is the largest of the types of owls in Indiana and can be found in the northernmost areas of the state. They prefer open, flat areas, such as grasslands and marshes, but will also inhabit agricultural land, particularly during their winter migration south. Snowy Owls are diurnal hunters, meaning they hunt during the day. 

Moving on, they are white-colored owls with black patches and yellow eyes, and their wingspan can reach up to five feet. Snowy Owls primarily eat small mammals, such as voles and mice, and sometimes birds and insects. 

When food is scarce in the winter, they are known to eat carrion. The Snowy Owl population in Indiana is considered stable, but their numbers have declined since the mid-1990s.

5. Long-Eared Owl

The long-eared owl is a medium-sized owl found in Indiana, where it is a common permanent resident. This species has a broad head, bright yellow eyes, and long, rounded wings. It also has a distinct “tuft” of feathers on its head that gives it a distinctive look. 

They prefer woodlands, open fields, and other grassy areas and are often spotted perched on tall trees or fences. They feed primarily on small mammals such as mice, voles, and rabbits. Long-eared owls are most active at night and can be seen flying slowly and silently above their hunting grounds. 

They are types of owls in Indiana and usually nest in tree cavities or nest boxes, but may also nest in old buildings. Long-eared owls are highly vocal and make loud, low hoots during the breeding season.

6. Northern Saw-Whet Owl

The Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus) is one of the smallest owl species found in the state of Indiana. This owl has a characteristic round head and yellow eyes. It is found throughout much of Indiana’s woodlands, forests, and agricultural fields. It typically prefers nesting sites among dense vegetation and under heavy tree canopies. 

The Saw-whet Owl feeds mainly on small rodents, insects, and other small prey like songbirds. They also consume berries and other fruits when available. When threatened, these types of owls in Indiana will emit a loud whistle sound or “hoot.” These beautiful birds are unique in Indiana and worth appreciating if you are lucky enough to spot one.

7. Barn Owl

Of all the types of owls in Indiana, the Barn Owl is the most commonly seen. It has a round, white face and a heart-shaped face that is typically brownish-gray. Its underparts are pale with heavily mottled wings and tails. It has a distinctive “screeching” call, and they can often be heard when they’re hunting at night. 

Coupled with that, they prefer to hunt in open fields and near farms, but they also can be found in woodlands. They mainly hunt small rodents, insects, and small birds. The Barn Owl is a solitary species and normally nests in abandoned buildings, hollow trees, or rock crevices. They often use old barns as their roosting sites, which is how they got their name. 

Barn Owls also lay their eggs in haystacks or other places where rodents are likely to be found. They usually lay three to four eggs and have one clutch each year. The young leave the nest after about five weeks but remain dependent on the parents for a couple of months more before leaving for good.

8. Burrowing Owl

The Burrowing Owl is one of the types of owls in Indiana. It is a small owl with a long, thin body and long legs. The coloration varies from light to dark brown, with a mottled pattern on its wings and back. It has yellow eyes, a whitish facial disk, and long legs. 

Moreso, this species lives in open, grassland habitats and can be seen hunting during the day or at dusk. It nests in burrows and feeds on small mammals, insects, and other invertebrates. The burrowing owl is a species of special concern in Indiana due to its declining population.

Conservation efforts for the Burrowing Owl in Indiana are underway and include increasing public awareness about the species, restoring and maintaining suitable habitats, and monitoring populations. To aid in conservation, Indiana Audubon has established a Burrowing Owl Working Group, which assists in research, education, and outreach activities. With increased awareness and conservation efforts, the population of the Burrowing Owl in Indiana can hopefully rebound and remain a viable species in the state.


Indiana is home to various wildlife, including many species of owls. With their unique calls, large eyes, and beautiful feathers, these majestic birds are a delight to spot in the wild. 

In this blog post, we looked at the types of owls in Indiana. Each of these species has its own unique characteristics, so read the article above to learn more about the owls of Indiana!

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