11 Types of Owls in Mississippi

Types of Owls in Mississippi
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Are you an avid bird watcher or simply curious about the types of owls in Mississippi that you can find?

Then you’ve come to the right place! Mississippi is home to various owl species, from the smallest elf owl to the largest great horned owl. 

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at all the different types of owls that can be found in the Magnolia State.

So if you want to learn more about the different types of owls in Mississippi, read on!

1. Long-Eared Owl

The Long-Eared Owl is one of the many types of owls in Mississippi that can be found. These birds are large and brownish-grey in color and have large ear tufts that give them their name. They can roost in wooded areas throughout Mississippi and feed on small mammals such as mice, rats, and voles. 

The Long-Eared Owl is an excellent hunter, and they have great vision in the dark. They have a unique call that sounds like a long, low “hoo-hoo-hoo,” and they are active at night. These birds are solitary and can be seen flying around during dusk or dawn. 

During the breeding season, males perch in trees to sing to attract mates. The female Long-Eared Owl typically lays between two and four eggs in a nest on the ground or in a tree cavity. These owls are a protected species in Mississippi, so it is important to observe them from a distance and not disturb their habitat.

How to Recognize Long-Eared Owl?

At first look, the long-eared owl appears to be a close relative of the great horned owl. A closer look reveals that long-eared owls have a unique V-shaped feather pattern on their faces. Their facial disks are made up of tufts of feathers that encircle brilliant orange eyes, giving them a shocked expression. 

The second set of feather tufts on their heads gives them their distinctive long-eared appearance. These lanky birds have tanned cheeks and multicolored plumage in brown, tan, gray, and white.

2. Boreal Owl

The Boreal Owl is one of the most common types of owls in Mississippi. It is a small, long-legged owl that lives in boreal forests near the Great Lakes region. The Boreal Owl’s diet consists mainly of small rodents and insects, but it will also eat birds, frogs, lizards, and fish.

Meanwhile, its call is a low-pitched hoot, and it is active mainly at night; of the different types of owls in Mississippi, this bird nests in hollowed trees or old woodpecker holes. During the breeding season, the female will lay up to seven eggs which hatch after about 25 days. 

The Boreal Owl can be found in many areas throughout Mississippi, including along the Gulf Coast and in some of the state’s parks and preserves. It is relatively easy to spot due to its distinctive coloration, including a white head with a buffy-brown face, dark eyes, and light brown streaks on its back and wings. If you spot one of these elusive birds, take the time to appreciate this beautiful creature!

How to Recognize Boreal owls?

Boreal owls are similar to barred owls in appearance, with round faces and red-brown feathers, although they are much smaller. These owls have huge brilliant yellow eyes that give them a shocked look. 

Boreal owls, as the name implies, prefer to live in boreal woods with spruce, pine, and fir trees. Boreal owls, as types of owls in Mississippi, are primarily active at night, hunting small animals and insects.

3. Northern Saw-Whet Owl

The Northern Saw-whet Owl, on this list of different types of owls in Mississippi, is a small owl with short wings and a round head. It can be found throughout Mississippi, usually in wooded areas or at the edges of wetlands. It feeds mostly on insects and small mammals, making it a beneficial species in keeping populations of some pests in check. 

The Northern Saw-whet Owl’s plumage is gray-brown above and whitish below, with rusty-colored bars on its sides. During the breeding season, males become more vocal to attract a mate. They are known to sing a repetitive “to-wit-to-woo” song which can be heard during the night. 

While not as common as other types of owls in Mississippi, the Northern Saw-whet Owl is a frequent visitor to the state. Also, it can make an interesting observation for those lucky enough to spot one.

How to Recognize?

Saw-whet owls have small heads and cat-like features with comparatively large yellow eyes, and their call sounds like a saw being sharpened on a whetstone. Northern saw-whet owls have spotted heads and characteristic Y-shaped markings on their faces, as well as rust-colored backs, breasts, and wings. 

These types of owls in Mississippi communicate via a range of vocalizations. Their harsh “too-too-too” sounds, which they employ to attract mates, are easily recognizable. Northern saw-whet owls can be heard approximately 1,000 feet distant with their screams.

4. Barn Owl

The Barn Owl is one of the most commonly found types of owls in Mississippi. It is a medium-sized owl with a large, round head and a distinctive heart-shaped face. The plumage of the Barn Owl ranges from buffy-brown to light grey, with dark markings on its wings. 

Of the several types of owls in Mississippi, this owl can be found roosting in both open fields and wooded areas. It preys mostly on small rodents such as voles, mice, and shrews. Barn Owls are typically nocturnal but may also be active during the day or dusk.

The Barn Owl is listed as a species of special concern in Mississippi. This means that it may be vulnerable to population declines if left unprotected. Therefore, it is important to protect and maintain habitats that provide suitable nesting and foraging sites for this species. Additionally, it is important to limit human disturbance in these habitats to ensure that the species has the best chance of survival.

How to Recognize?

Compared to other types of owls in Mississippi, barn owls are rather lanky. They have huge hazel to brown eyes set in concave, heart-shaped faces with a delicate outline of pale brown feathers. 

Barn owls have milk-white feathers on their backs and wings, with tan and rust-brown feathers on their wings. These owls do not hoot and instead communicate by screeches.

5. Eastern Screech-Owls

The Eastern Screech-Owl is one of the types of owls in Mississippi that resides in the state. This owl has a unique look due to its reddish-brown feathers and facial disc. It is also known for its distinctive vocalizations, which are easily recognizable. This owl species is often found in wooded areas and is an expert hunter, preying on small mammals, birds, insects, and reptiles.

The Eastern Screech-Owl is a medium-sized owl that can measure anywhere from 16 to 25 centimeters with a wingspan of between 41 and 61 centimeters. This species of owl typically nests in abandoned woodpecker cavities, crevices in tree trunks, or natural cavities found in dead trees. The Eastern Screech-Owl is an important part of Mississippi’s avian ecosystem and plays an important role in controlling the populations of rodents and other pests in the area.

How to Recognize?

Eastern screech owls, as types of owls in Mississippi, prefer to live in forests but are also content to live in cities. The eastern screech owl can be found from Vermont to Montana, with a large range extending down to Texas and back across the states to Florida. These birds can be found in forested, rural, and suburban areas.

6. Barred Owl

The Barred Owl is a medium-sized owl native to Mississippi and found throughout the United States and Canada. These owls are mostly brown with barring on their wings, chest, and underparts. The Barred Owl has a large, rounded head, bright yellow eyes, large ear tufts, and a hooked bill. 

Further, their call is described as a series of loud hoots, often heard in wooded areas. They are types of owls in Mississippi that feed on rodents, frogs, and other small prey. Barred Owls tend to live in wooded areas, such as forests, swamps, and wetlands, as well as around farmlands and residential neighborhoods. 

They build nests in tree cavities or on large branches near the ground. These birds are nocturnal and often hunt at night. During the day, they roost in their nests or perch in trees and shrubs. Barred Owls can be seen year-round in Mississippi but are most active during the spring and summer months.

How to Recognize?

Barred owls typically have deep brown eyes and delicate round cheeks. Red-brown feathers with white horizontal stripes or bars cover these birds. Barred owls are usually seen at dusk on the outskirts of woodlands, where they can easily locate their prey.

7. Great Gray Owl

The Great Gray Owl is one of the largest types of owls in Mississippi and one of the most majestic. They are grey-colored birds with white speckles and striking yellow eyes. They inhabit evergreen forests, wet areas, and open meadows throughout the state. 

The Great Gray Owl can be found anywhere from the northernmost parts of Mississippi down to the southernmost parts of the state. They feed primarily on small mammals such as voles and mice but can also consume amphibians, reptiles, fish, and insects.

The Great Gray Owl is one of the least vocal owls in the state, and they are very hard to spot due to their cryptic coloring and behavior. However, when they vocalize, they emit a soft hooting sound that can travel up to two miles. 

They are active mostly during the night and twilight hours but occasionally during the day if enough food is available. If you’re lucky enough to spot one in the wild, it’s sure to be an unforgettable experience.

How to Recognize?

The great gray owl has been dubbed the Phantom of the North due to its gray feathers and frightening look. This steel-to-brown-gray owl has a sooty look, amber-golden eyes, and huge disks surrounding them, giving it a wise aspect. 

A white “bowtie” tapers to rounded ends beneath the bird’s beak. The great gray owl utilizes deep, rhythmic “whoo-whoos” to protect its territory and communicate with its family.

8. Northern Hawk Owl

The Northern Hawk Owl is a medium-sized species of owl found in the northern parts of Mississippi. It is a small, agile owl with mottled gray and brown plumage and bright yellow eyes. The most distinguishing features of this species are its long tail, streaked head and shoulders, and wide wings. It feeds mainly on small rodents and birds but takes large insects, such as dragonflies and beetles.

In Mississippi, the Northern Hawk Owl is most commonly seen during the day, hunting over open fields and woodlands. The Northern Hawk Owl can be found in many parts of Mississippi from late fall through early spring. During these months, it tends to hunt in the early morning and late evening, preferring to rest during the day’s heat. 

Of the different types of owls in Mississippi, it is a solitary species and is not known to form large flocks. Its call is a short, high-pitched scream that can be heard from some distance away. With its large yellow eyes and long tail, the Northern Hawk Owl is a sight in Mississippi’s forests and fields.

How to Recognize?

Hawk owls look like owls but operate like hawks, perching in treetops and hunting their prey in the open during the day. Long tails and small spherical heads surrounded by a border of dark brown feathers distinguish these owls. 

Their bright yellow eyes and beaks shine out against their red-brown plumage. Northern hawk owls have nearly solid brown backs and striped fronts, and they lure possible mates with harsh rolling whistles.

9. Great Horned Owl

The Great Horned Owl is one of the most widespread types of owls in Mississippi. They are identified by their large, distinctive ear tufts and yellow eyes. These owls have a wide range of habitat preferences, including woodlands, swamps, forests, and even urban parks. 

They prefer to nest in trees with large cavities and usually line their nest with downy feathers. In Mississippi, Great Horned Owls can be seen hunting during the day or night for prey such as small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates. They are types of owls in Mississippi that are also known to feed on carrion. 

These impressive birds of prey can be identified by their large size and rounded head. Females are larger than males and can reach up to 24 inches in length with a wingspan of nearly five feet! Their feathers are usually brown and gray, with mottled patterns on their breast. The eyes of the Great Horned Owl are bright yellow, and they have a deep hoot call. 

The Great Horned Owl is a remarkable bird of prey well adapted to Mississippi’s diverse habitats. They play an important role in the local ecosystem, preying on small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and other creatures. With proper protection, these types of owls in Mississippi can continue to thrive in Mississippi for many years to come.

How to Recognize?

The great horned owl is distinguished by a matching pair of tufts on either side of its head, which gives it a horned look. Their plumage is barred gray to red-brown, and their eyes are golden yellow and do not move within the sockets. 

These birds can rotate their heads 180 degrees to see and hear what is happening around them. Their large wings allow them to fly deftly, with serrated main feathers dispersing turbulence and softer feathers muffling sound.

10. Short-Eared Owl

The Short-eared Owl is one of the owl species found in the state of Mississippi. This small, mottled brown owl is found across much of the United States and other parts of North America. In Mississippi, they are typically spotted at dusk or night when they fly low over open fields and marshes in search of prey. 

The Short-eared Owl can be identified by its rounded head, mottled brown coloration, yellow eyes, and white facial disk. Its call is a loud, two-syllable “hoot-hoot” sound. These types of owls in Mississippi prefer to inhabit open grassland or marsh habitats. They can often be seen hunting during the day, especially in winter months, when they use their sharp hearing and vision to detect prey such as voles, mice, and other small rodents. 

During the breeding season, the male will establish a territory and perform aerial displays to attract a female. Nesting is typically done on the ground and will include various materials, including twigs, grasses, feathers, and fur. The female will lay between 4-5 eggs which will hatch after an incubation period of about 28 days.

How to Recognize?

The short-eared owl’s ear tufts are located near the middle of their heads and are so short that they are often not visible. Short-eared owls have tawny backs and wings, with tan bellies interspersed with vertical dark brown stripes. Tailfeathers have been prohibited for these types of owls in Mississippi. 

These owls have small, round faces with pale tan to creamy white facial disks and golden eyes with black brims. Short-eared owls communicate with piercing “waowk-waowk-waowk” calls and “eeee-yerp” screams during mating season.

11. Burrowing Owl

Finally, the Burrowing Owl is also one of the types of owls in Mississippi. It is a small owl with long legs and short wings, about 8 to 10 inches in length. This species usually lives in open grassland and desert habitats but can also be found in other areas like golf courses, agricultural fields, and suburban backyards. 

The Burrowing Owl is listed as an endangered species in Mississippi, and keeping this owl as a pet is illegal. Burrowing Owls are most active at dawn and dusk and feed on insects, small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and earthworms. They are also known to eat small birds and fruit. 

These birds usually mate for life, and both parents share the responsibility of building their nest and caring for the young. They line the entrance of their burrow with rabbit fur or feathers to make it more inviting for potential mates. Burrowing Owls, one of the types of owls in Mississippi, are social birds that often roost in small groups during the day and hunt together at night.

How to Recognize?

Burrowing owls, which are also types of owls in Mississippi, are distinguished by their long legs and upright posture. They also have bright yellow eyes, and their red-brown plumage resembles that of both the barred and boreal owls.

The fact that they reside on the ground allows them to be distinguished. Burrowing owls are mostly quiet, with males emitting high-pitched “coo-coos” to defend territory and attract mates.


Mississippi is home to various owl species, from tiny screech to majestic great horned owls. If you’re an avid birdwatcher or just curious about the different types of owls in Mississippi that inhabit the area, you’ve come to the right place!

Above, we discussed all the types of owls in Mississippi and some interesting facts about each. So, you can get started with your adventure!

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