Have you ever wanted to know more about the types of owls in Washington State?
Washington State is home to various owl species, from barred to great horned owls. In our blog post, we’ll explore all the different types of owls in Washington State.
We’ll also look at their habitat, characteristics, and behaviors. So if you’re a bird-lover or an aspiring ornithologist, read on to discover the amazing world of types of owls in Washington State!
1. The Great Horned Owl
The Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) is first on our list of types of owls in Washington State. It is the most widely distributed owl species in North America and one of the most common in Washington state.
These majestic owls in Washington State have a large head, golden eyes, and distinctive ear tufts. Great Horned Owls can be found throughout Washington, from the Cascade Mountains to the Puget Sound lowlands. They prefer dense coniferous and deciduous forests for their nesting and hunting grounds.
These nocturnal hunters feed primarily on small mammals, such as mice, voles, and other small birds. They are also known to scavenge carrion and have been known to prey on house cats and even dogs on rare occasions. Great Horned Owls are fiercely territorial and can often be seen perched high in trees and scanning the ground below for potential prey.
2. The Northern Spotted Owl
The Northern Spotted Owl is also on our list of types of owls in Washington State. It is a medium-sized owl native to the forests of the Pacific Northwest, from Washington State to northern British Columbia. They prefer mature forests with large trees, as these provide a variety of perches to hunt from.
The Northern Spotted Owl typically hunts at night and feeds mainly on small mammals, birds, and some insects. These types of owls in Washington State have distinctive white spots on their upper breast and are larger than most other owls.
Due to their endangered status, Northern Spotted Owls have been the focus of conservation efforts. Habitat loss has heavily impacted them due to human activities such as logging. Additionally, invasive species such as barred owls in their habitat can cause problems, as they are known to out-compete spotted owls for resources. As such, it is important to protect the forests that these owls depend on to help preserve this species.
3. Boreal Owl
The Boreal Owl is a medium-sized owl found in coniferous forests of the Pacific Northwest, including Washington State. It is easily recognized by its rounded head, yellow eyes, and distinct facial disk. Its coloration ranges from brownish-gray to rufous, and its wings are mottled with white spots.
The Boreal Owl feeds mainly on small mammals such as mice, voles, and hares, as well as some birds and insects. It often hunts from perches or low flight.
The breeding season for this species is generally from late March to early June. Nests are usually found in tree cavities or large, dense shrubs; the female lays 3-8 eggs.
The Boreal Owl is considered a species of least concern in Washington State. Although their numbers have decreased, they are still relatively common. If you live in a coniferous forest area of Washington State, keep an eye out for these majestic types of owls in Washington State!
4. Barn Owl
The Barn Owl is an interesting species of owl found in Washington. It is one of the most commonly seen types of owls in Washington State, and it can be identified by its unique, heart-shaped face and bright yellow eyes.
The Barn Owl is a medium-sized owl that stands between 12 and 15 inches tall and has a wingspan of around 3 feet. It has white, pale brown, and buff-colored feathers with dark markings on its chest and belly.
The Barn Owl is a nocturnal bird that feeds mainly on small mammals such as voles, mice, shrews, and moles. It prefers to hunt in open areas such as meadows and fields, where plenty of prey is available. The Barn Owl is an important predator in agricultural areas, helping to control rodent populations.
The Barn Owl is a relatively solitary bird, nesting in cavities such as old buildings, barns, tree stumps, and chimneys. It usually breeds during the winter months and typically lays 4-7 eggs which hatch after about 30 days. The chicks fledge after about 6 weeks and become independent at about 8 weeks.
The Barn Owl is a fascinating bird of prey and can be seen in various locations around Washington State. If you’re lucky enough to see one in the wild, take a moment to appreciate this beautiful species!
5. Northern Pygmy-Owl
The Northern Pygmy Owl is a small owl that can be found in Washington State. It is the smallest owl species in North America, with an average length of only 6.5 inches. This owl can be identified by its yellow eyes, white chin, and gray-brown upper parts.
The Northern Pygmy-Owl feeds mostly on small birds, lizards, and other small animals. These types of owls in Washington State are generally found in dense coniferous forests and are active day and night. It is also important to note that Northern Pygmy-Owls are often found nesting in abandoned nests of other birds.
6. Western-Screech Owl
The Western-Screech Owl is a small owl native to the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It’s a fairly common sight in Washington state and can be found in many open habitats, including farmland and suburban neighborhoods.
This small owl has a gray and white mottled coloration with black streaks along its back. Its distinguishing feature is its large yellow eyes and black bill. Its call is a long trill that can be heard at night, often in flocks of up to three individuals.
The Western Screech Owl mainly feeds on small mammals, such as voles and mice, insects, and some birds. It’s a nocturnal bird, roosting during the day in dense cover and flying out at night to hunt for food.
7. Short-Eared Owl
The Short-eared Owl is a species of owl found in Washington state. It is a medium-sized owl, typically 10 and 13 inches long, with a wingspan of up to 24 inches. These types of owls in Washington State are typically grayish-brown or buff, with distinct brown streaks and spots on the breast and wings.
The facial disc of these birds is yellow-brown, and they have an orange-yellow bill. They are nocturnal and hunt mainly small mammals, birds, and insects. Short-eared Owls can be found in open fields, grasslands, and marshes throughout Washington state.
8. Great Gray Owl
The Great Gray Owl is one of the largest owl species found in Washington State. They are big and bulky, with a wingspan of around 4 feet, and can grow up to 24 inches.
These types of owls in Washington State are gray-brown with pale gray and white markings. They have bright yellow eyes and long ear tufts that can be raised when they feel threatened. Great Gray Owls can be seen hunting in open fields, hunting small mammals such as voles, mice, and squirrels.
They are also known to hunt birds on occasion. They often use perches to survey their surroundings before swooping down to capture their prey. Great Gray Owls are rarely seen in residential areas but can be found in remote forests and wetlands throughout the state.
The Long-Eared Owl is a medium-sized owl species found throughout North America. Its large ears and striped head easily recognize it. The Long-Eared Owl has a distinctive facial disk with black and white stripes that extend to its chest. This owl prefers to roost in dense foliage and hunts mainly at night.
In Washington State, the Long-Eared Owl can be found in open forests and woodland areas. During the breeding season, they form loose colonies with multiple males, each occupying their nesting sites.
These owls in Washington State primarily hunt small mammals such as mice and voles but will also eat reptiles and insects. They are quite vocal and make various sounds, including screeches and barks.
10. Snowy Owl
The Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) is one of the most stunning owl species native to Washington State. These types of owls in Washington State are large, with a wingspan reaching up to five feet, and covered in bright white feathers.
While they’re most active at night, Snowy Owls can be spotted during the day, usually perched on a post or tree. They mainly live on the tundra, but during wintertime, they migrate south, with sightings of them in Washington as far back as the 1800s. In addition to their white feathers, Snowy Owls have yellow eyes and brown streaks on their wings and back.
These owls in Washington State feed mainly on small mammals such as mice and voles, birds, and other small animals. Because of their large size, Snowy Owls are not preyed upon by other animals, making them one of the most successful predators in the Arctic Circle.
11. Burrowing Owl
The Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia) is next on our list of types of owls in Washington State. It is a small, diurnal owl native to North and South America. It’s found in open habitats such as grasslands, deserts, and agricultural areas, and it prefers to nest in underground burrows dug by other animals.
These types of owls in Washington State are about 7–9 inches long, characterized by their yellow eyes and white throats. They have brown and tan feathers on the back with white spotted markings on the chest and throat. The facial disk is pale with a darker rim around the eyes. Males and females look similar, but males tend to be slightly larger than females.
Burrowing Owls feed mostly on insects like grasshoppers and beetles but can also eat small rodents, lizards, and birds. They hunt primarily at night and catch prey with their sharp talons. These owls in Washington State are solitary hunters but sometimes form pairs or family groups when roosting or hunting together.
In Washington State, Burrowing Owls are found primarily east of the Cascade Mountains in low-elevation areas. They typically nest in fields, pastures, and golf courses with plenty of open space for hunting. Though these owls in Washington State are not endangered, they are listed as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in Washington State.
12. Northern Hawk Owl
The Northern Hawk Owl is a small, medium-sized owl found in wooded areas throughout Washington State. It has a brown back with white spots and streaks and a bright yellow bill.
Its wings are long and narrow, and its tail is long and squared off at the end. Its call is a series of high-pitched, whistling notes.
It feeds mainly on small mammals and birds and hunts during the day, which is unusual for an owl. It is quite elusive, but if you’re lucky enough to spot one, you can witness its incredible agility in flight.
13. Flammulated Owl
The Flammulated Owl is the smallest of all the owls found in Washington State. It has a length of 6.5 to 7.1 inches with a wingspan of 15 to 16.9 inches. Its coloration is grayish-brown overall, with white spots on its head and breast.
The underparts are also spotted and streaked with black, while the facial disks and eyes are yellow-orange. This owl is sometimes called “the tree cricket owl” because it hunts crickets and other small insects during summer.
It migrates south to areas such as California and Arizona during the winter. It is found in open coniferous forests and can often be seen near the edges of mountain meadows or fields, perching on branches or stumps.
14. Barred Owl
Lastly, The Barred Owl is a large, brown-eyed owl native to Washington state. It is easily identified by its round head, facial disks, and wide, barred wings. This species prefers mature forests with large tree cavities for roosting and nesting.
Barred Owls are nocturnal hunters who feed on small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, insects, and birds. These owls in Washington State can be heard hooting throughout the year but become especially vocal during the breeding season.
Washington State is home to various owls, from the iconic Great Horned Owl to the elusive Northern Pygmy-Owl. With the different types of owls in Washington State you can find a wide range of shapes and sizes of types of owls in Washington State here.
Owls are fascinating creatures and play an important role in the local environment. Observing them in their natural habitats can be a wonderful experience. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to spot one of these majestic types of owls in Washington State.
Our blog post has provided an overview of all the different types of owls in Washington State and their unique characteristics. Whether you’re a bird watcher or just curious about the local wildlife, our post will help you learn more about the fascinating birds that call Washington State home.