9 Different Types of Owls in Pennsylvania

types of owls in pennsylvania
Photo by Erik_Karits

Welcome to this blog post on the different types of owls in Pennsylvania! Pennsylvania is home to many birds, including several species of owls.

From the tiny elf owl to the majestic great gray owl, many of these unique birds can be seen in the forests and parks of Keystone State.

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the different types of owls in Pennsylvania, their habitats and how to spot them.

Whether you’re an experienced bird-watcher or just curious about the avian wildlife in your backyard, read on to learn about the amazing types of owls in Pennsylvania.

1. Eastern Screech Owl

The first on the list of the types of owls in Pennsylvania is Eastern Screech Owl, a small, nocturnal owl native to the state. It is one of the few owls that can be seen in residential areas, as it nests in tree cavities close to houses. The Eastern Screech Owl can be found in woodlands and meadows throughout the state. These birds are 8-10 inches long, and their coloring can range from gray to brown and red. 

The Eastern Screech Owl has yellow eyes with distinctive ear tufts. Its call consists of a descending trill or whinny and can be heard at night. In Pennsylvania, these owls prefer mature forests and usually nest in cavities or abandoned woodpecker holes. Their diet consists of small rodents, insects, and other invertebrates. 

During the day, they usually roost in the cavities of trees, where they are safe from predators. To spot an Eastern Screech Owl in Pennsylvania, look for them at night near meadows, woods, and residential areas. They can also be found along streams and rivers.

2. Northern Hawk Owl

The Northern Hawk Owl is one of the types of owls in Pennsylvania. This bird is a medium-sized owl with a distinct white facial disk, long legs, and long, broad wings. It has a light brown back and cream-colored underparts, with black barring on its tail and wings.

What’s more? It prefers open coniferous forests and is often found perched on high perches looking for prey. It mainly feeds on small rodents and other small mammals and eats various insects and birds. 

During the breeding season, the Northern Hawk Owl nests in tree cavities or old raptor nest sites, often near human habitation. Sightings of this species are common in most parts of Pennsylvania during the late winter and early spring months.

3. Barn Owl

The Barn Owl is one of the most common types of owls in Pennsylvania. It has a distinctive heart-shaped facial disk, long legs and wings, and a mottled white and buff-colored plumage. The Barn Owl is found throughout Pennsylvania, from the Allegheny Mountains to the Poconos, but it prefers open agricultural areas with nearby woodlands for nesting. 

While Barn Owls can be seen during the day, they are more active at night, when they can be heard calling with their unique raspy hooting sound. When it comes to nesting, Barn Owls prefer to live in old farm buildings and abandoned barns, although they have also been known to nest in tree cavities. During the breeding season, the female Barn Owl lays up to 12 eggs and will often incubate them for around 28 days. 

Young Barn Owls typically fledge after 6 weeks and may remain with their parents until they reach maturity. The Barn Owl is an important species for controlling rodent populations in Pennsylvania and should be protected wherever possible.

4. Northern Saw-Whet Owl

The Northern Saw-Whet Owl is a small, nocturnal owl native to Pennsylvania and other parts of North America. The owl has a distinctive facial disk, which helps it hunt for prey in the dark. It has a reddish-brown back, with white spotting and streaks on its face, chest, and belly. 

The Northern Saw-Whet Owl lives in woodlands and forests, feeding mainly on small rodents like mice and voles. The owl is most active at night and can often be heard calling from tall trees or even from nearby buildings. 

In Pennsylvania, it can be found in deciduous and coniferous forests, including Allegheny National Forest, Gettysburg National Military Park, and many state parks. While the Northern Saw-Whet Owl is not as common as other types of owls in Pennsylvania, it is still an important part of the state’s natural ecosystem and should be protected.

5. Long-Eared Owl

The Long-Eared Owl is a nocturnal raptor found in Pennsylvania and other areas of the Northeastern United States. It is easily identified by its long ear tufts that appear as horns. It is a medium-sized owl and has an overall brownish color with white spots on its wings and chest. 

Further, its long legs allow it to hunt over large open fields, and its facial disc helps to funnel sound to its ears. Long-eared owls can be found in forests, swamps, and grasslands, often nesting in conifers or abandoned nests of other birds. 

They are types of owls in Pennsylvania that typically feed on small mammals like mice and voles but will also eat birds and insects. The best places to find Long-Eared Owls in Pennsylvania are along the Susquehanna River Valley, in Allegheny National Forest, and in any large forested area.

6. Short-Eared Owl

The Short-Eared Owl is a small, medium-sized owl that is found throughout the eastern and central parts of Pennsylvania. Its range extends into Canada and across the United States. This owl can be identified by its dark brown plumage, yellow eyes, and white facial disk. It has long wings and legs and is characterized by its long tail. 

The Short-Eared Owl prefers to live in open grassland or marsh habitat and hunts mainly at night or early morning for small rodents, insects, and other small animals. It is usually perched on a low tree limb or fence post during the day. In Pennsylvania, the Short-Eared Owl breeds mainly in the northern and western areas of the state. They are often seen during migration in the fall in southwestern Pennsylvania, while they are in winter in southeastern Pennsylvania. 

Short-Eared Owls, one of the types of owls in Pennsylvania, can be found in grasslands, marshes, and fields around lakes, streams, and wetlands. This owl species is listed as threatened in Pennsylvania due to habitat loss and fragmentation caused by human activities. To spot one of these beautiful birds, looking for them at dawn or dusk near their preferred habitats is best.

7. Great Horned Owl

The Great Horned Owl is one of the most recognizable and widely distributed types of owls in Pennsylvania. It can be found all over the state, living in various habitats, from open woodlands to suburban backyards. This species is large and powerful with a prominent pair of ear tufts, yellow eyes, and a facial disk patterned with brown and white. 

Its deep hooting call can often echo through the woods at night. Its diet consists mostly of small mammals, birds, and reptiles, which it can take down with its strong talons. The Great Horned Owl nests in tree cavities, rock crevices, or on platforms built by humans.

8. Barred Owl

The Barred Owl is a native of Pennsylvania and is recognizable for its distinctive facial pattern. It has a grey-brown plumage with darker stripes across its chest and white circles around its eyes. They have large round heads with no ear tufts. 

Barred Owls are found throughout the state, including woodlands, wetland forests, and even urban areas. They are mostly nocturnal hunters, and their diet consists of small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and insects. When searching for them, be sure to look out for their loud hooting calls during the night!

9. Snowy Owl

Lastly, on our list of the types of owls in Pennsylvania is the Snowy Owl, a majestic bird that can be found in the state. These owls have white feathers, yellow eyes, and black beaks. They can reach up to two feet in length and weigh about four pounds. 

The Snowy Owl prefers to live in open fields, meadows, tundra, and other habitats with low vegetation and high visibility. In Pennsylvania, they usually nest in the late winter months. These owls typically feed on small mammals, rodents, amphibians, and insects. They can also be seen hunting over open fields during the day.

The Snowy Owl’s habitat is threatened by various factors, such as habitat loss due to agricultural development and climate change. They are also vulnerable to hunting pressure from people and animals, pollution, and oil spills. 

As a result, these owls are considered a species of special concern in Pennsylvania and are protected by law. People should take extra care to protect these birds from further harm and ensure their populations remain healthy. This wraps up our list of the different types of owls in Pennsylvania!


Pennsylvania is home to various owl species, and observing them in their natural habitat can be a great pleasure. If you’re looking for a chance to spot an owl, visit some of the state’s prime spots, such as woodland or marshland areas. 

The types of owls in Pennsylvania vary from the large Great Horned Owl to the tiny Northern Saw-Whet Owl. Regardless of which one you may encounter, it is sure to be a wonderful experience.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Types of Eagles in Arizona

Arizona is known for its stunning natural beauty and diverse wildlife, including several species of eagles. The types…

Types of Eagles in Tennessee

Tennessee has a diverse range of eagle species, each with unique physical characteristics, habitat preferences, and hunting and…