Texas is home to abundant wildlife, including many different species of owls.
From the tiny Elf Owl to the majestic Great Horned Owl, Texas is a great place to observe these fascinating birds of prey.
In this blog post, we will explore the different types of owls in Texas and discuss some of their unique characteristics.
We’ll also provide some tips for identifying them in the wild.
Whether you’re an experienced bird-watcher or just starting, this post should provide a great introduction to the wonderful world of owls.
Let’s dive into the list of different types of owls in texas
1. Eastern Screech Owl
The Eastern Screech Owl (Megascops asio) is a small, reddish-brown owl in Texas’s woodlands, fields, and parks. This owl prefers to inhabit deciduous forests but can also be found in open country or urban areas.
The Eastern Screech Owl has an unmistakable call, made up of multiple notes, which is one of the most recognizable bird calls in North America. These types of owls in Texas hunt by swooping down on their prey, usually at night. They feed on small rodents, amphibians, and insects. With their bright eyes, they can scan their environment for potential prey.
2. Barn Owl
This is the second on our list of types of owls in texas. Barn owls (Tyto alba) are one of the most common owls in Texas. These owls are characterized by their white face, heart-shaped face, and distinctive yellow eyes. They typically hunt at night and can be found throughout much of the state.
In addition to its striking appearance, the barn owl is known for its loud and harsh call that can be heard during its nocturnal hunts. The barn owl prefers to live in open areas with plenty of trees and shrubs for protection from predators. They will often nest in barns or abandoned buildings if the opportunity presents itself, though they do not need a human dwelling to survive.
The diet of these owls consists mainly of rodents, but they will also take larger prey such as rabbits and skunks if needed. Barn owls are an important part of Texas’s environment and help keep rodent populations in check.
3. Great Horned Owl
This is the next on our list of types of owls in texas. The Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) is the most recognizable and iconic type of owl in texas. These large, powerful raptors are easily identified by their yellow eyes, black feathered tufts on their heads, and large, barred wings and tail. They can be found in various habitats, from dense forests to open fields and deserts.
Their diet consists mostly of small mammals, such as rabbits and rodents, but they will also take other birds, amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates.
These types of owls in Texas are highly territorial and will fiercely defend their nesting territories from other owls. They typically nest in cavities in trees or on cliff ledges and have been known to use abandoned nests of hawks and other large birds.
They are generally active at night, and their hooting call is often heard in the early morning or evening. The Great Horned Owl is an important part of the Texas ecosystem and provides important services such as controlling rodent populations.
4. Barred Owl
The Barred Owl (Strix varia) is a large owl native to Texas and usually lives in heavily wooded areas. These owls prefer to nest in cavities within tree trunks, abandoned woodpecker holes, or other openings in the tree. They are easily identified by their gray-brown upper parts and distinctive brown vertical bars on their white underparts.
The Barred Owls, also one of the types of owls in Texas, are quite vocal and can be heard hooting during the day or night. They mainly feed on small mammals such as voles and mice but may also take advantage of amphibians and insects when available.
5. The Western Screech-Owl
The Western Screech-Owl (Megascops kennicottii) is a small nocturnal owl native to Texas. These owls have a very distinct plumage pattern that consists of a brown back and white breast with dark barring across the chest. They are typically found in wooded areas such as pine or oak forests and are most active at night.
They hunt small rodents, insects, and amphibians, making them an important part of the local ecosystem. They are types of owls in Texas that also feed on fruits, berries, and occasionally other birds. They can be identified by their characteristic call, which is a descending whinny.
The Western Screech-Owl is an important species to observe in Texas because they indicate a healthy environment. If these owls are present in an area, it usually means that the habitat is providing adequate food, shelter, and other resources that these birds need to survive.
They are also important predators of small rodents, helping to keep their population in check. Observing these birds gives you valuable insight into the local environment’s health.
6. The Elf Owl
The Elf Owl (Micrathene whitneyi) is one of Texas’s most unique types of owl. It has a small, rounded head, a short tail, and a small body size, making it the smallest of all owl species in North America. Its coloration ranges from brown to dark gray, and its eyes are large and yellow.
In terms of behavior, the Elf Owl is nocturnal and very active during night hours, searching for insects and small animals to feed on. It also makes vocalizations to attract mates and territorial calls when defending its habitat. The Elf Owl can be found throughout Texas, mostly inhabiting open grasslands, woodlands, deserts, and riparian zones.
Moreover, its nesting sites are often located in abandoned woodpecker cavities or other tree hollows. They are monogamous birds and usually lay between 2 to 6 eggs at a time. During the summer months, the parents work together to feed their young until they reach independence.
The Elf Owl’s diet consists of insects, rodents, lizards, and occasionally snakes. Unfortunately, their numbers are decreasing due to habitat loss from development and agricultural activity. Therefore, conservation efforts are needed to protect this species and its dwindling population in Texas.
7. The Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl
The Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl (Glaucidium brasilianum) is one of the smallest types of owl in Texas, with a body length of only 5 to 6 inches. They have a rusty-colored face, chest, and back with a yellowish-white underside. Their wings are spotted brown and black. They are usually found in deserts, grasslands, and forests and are often seen hunting during the day.
Ferruginous Pygmy-Owls hunt for small rodents, lizards, frogs, and insects, and they make their homes in hollowed-out trees or cactus cavities. They are quite vocal and can be heard making a series of clicks and whistles. These owls are usually solitary, and pairs may form during breeding.
8. The Burrowing Owl
The Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia) is a small, diurnal owl found throughout Texas and the western half of the United States. It is one of the types of owls in Texas characterized by a round facial disc and a long, straight bill. The Burrowing Owl’s diet consists mainly of insects, although small mammals, reptiles, and amphibians may also be taken.
It can be seen perched on fence posts or rocks and is usually spotted on open grassland, deserts, or agricultural areas. This owl species is well-adapted to living in urban areas and rural habitats, making them easy to find in many parts of Texas. The Burrowing Owl is listed as a species of special concern in Texas due to its declining numbers.
Habitat destruction, destruction of burrows, and human disturbance are all contributing factors to the decline of this species. Conservation efforts have been put into place to help preserve their natural habitat and increase their population size. These efforts include public education, habitat restoration, and monitoring of nesting sites. By becoming more aware of these species and protecting their habitats, we can help ensure their future in Texas.
9. The Long-Eared Owl
This species (Asio otis) is one of Texas’s most remarkable types of owls. Its long ears and beautiful brown coloration make it easy to recognize this owl species. The long-eared owl is a medium-sized owl that lives mainly in open forests and areas with tall trees. They are rarely seen during the day but can often be heard calling at night.
Meanwhile, they hunt mostly at night and feed on small mammals, birds, insects, and other small animals. During the nesting season, they make their homes in abandoned nests of other birds, tree cavities, or old buildings. The long-eared owl is uncommon in Texas, and they tend to avoid heavily populated areas.
Due to their declining numbers, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department considers them a species of special concern. It is important to protect their habitat and ensure they have enough food and space to thrive. If you spot one of these majestic types of owls in Texas, take a picture or video and share your experience with others!
10. The Flammulated Owl
The Flammulated Owl (Psiloscops flammeolus) is a small, secretive owl native to the western and south-central United States. It’s easily identifiable by its reddish-brown color, white belly, and yellow eyes. This owl typically feeds on small mammals, insects, reptiles, and birds. In Texas, these owls can be found in dense coniferous forests, where they roost and nest during summer.
The Flammulated Owl is a secretive bird rarely seen during the day, so the best time to observe them is at night. They have a deep hooting call that can often echo through the trees. Although not as common as other owl species, the Flammulated Owl is an interesting and important part of the Texas ecosystem.
11. The Short-Eared Owl
This is the next on our list of types of owls in texas. The Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) is a medium-sized owl that can be found in Texas. It has a rounded head, a yellow-orange facial disc, and large, dark eyes. Its wings and tail are mottled brown, with light barring on its underside. These owls feed mainly on small rodents, nesting in open grasslands and marshes. In Texas, they can often be seen flying low over open fields or perched on fence posts at night.
The Short-eared Owl is an adaptable bird that can easily survive in habitats such as prairies, deserts, and even agricultural lands. They are also found in deciduous forests, but they prefer to nest in more open areas. This owl species is declining due to habitat loss, so if you live in Texas, consider supporting conservation efforts to protect this species.
12. The Snowy Owl
The Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) is a large and majestic species of owl found throughout Texas, especially during winter. These owls have white feathers, yellow eyes, and black bills, making them an impressive sight. Snowy Owls primarily hunt small mammals such as voles and mice but will also eat birds and other small prey.
They can often be found atop fence posts, telephone poles, and other elevated objects, where they watch for their next meal. Snowy Owls, one of the types of owls in Texas, are most active at night and during the early morning hours. They typically mate for life and return to the same nesting sites yearly.
Nests are typically built on the ground, with a bowl-shaped depression lined with grasses and other materials. During the winter months, Snowy Owls can be spotted more frequently than in other seasons, making them a popular sight among birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts.
13. The Spotted Owl
Still on the list of the various types of owls in Texas, the Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis) is a medium-sized owl native to North America. It can be found in wooded areas throughout the southwestern United States, including Texas. It has a mottled brown and white plumage, long ear tufts, and yellow eyes.
The Spotted Owl prefers to inhabit old-growth forests, where it nests in tree cavities or holes made by other birds. It primarily feeds on small mammals such as mice and voles. Due to its declining population, the Spotted Owl has been listed as a threatened species in many parts of the country. However, with the protection of its habitats, the population is beginning to recover slowly.
14. The Northern Saw-whet Owl
This is the last on our list of types of owls in texas. The Northern Saw-whet Owl is also one of the smallest types of owls in Texas, reaching a maximum length of 8.5 inches. They have white faces with rust-colored eyes and black beaks, and their bodies are covered in brown, black, and white feathers. This owl species is known for its incredibly loud call, described as a rapid “toot-toot-toot” sound that can often be heard at night.
They are most active during twilight, hunting small animals such as mice and rodents. Their preferred habitat includes dense forests and woodlands near water sources, making them quite common in parts of Texas. This concludes our list of the types of owls you should know about in Texas!
Owls are a fascinating species of bird that can be found worldwide in various habitats. In Texas, several different species of owls call the Lone Star State home.
From the diminutive Elf Owl to the imposing Great Horned Owl, Texas has many owl species living within its borders. This blog post explored Texas’s different types of owls and what makes them unique. Read the above to discover more about these amazing types of owls in texas!