Ohio Owls

Ohio's Owls are cute and adorable with their big eyes.  But they are also birds of prey, able to shred a small animal with it's talons and beak.

Northwest Ohio has several owls that are year-round residents. Among them are the screech owl, barn owl, barred owl, and great horned owl. Others come through here during migration but typically don't stay all year.

Ohio Owl Pictures with some Ohio Owl Calls

Below are descriptions and pictures of various owls that can be found in Ohio.

(Click on the images for larger pictures)
(Click on the for owl sounds)

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Saw-whet Owl
Saw-whet Owl
(photo by Bob Jacksy)

Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus)

The Saw-whet Owl is the smallest of the Ohio owls.  It is occasionally seen in the non-nesting season and very rarely breeds in Ohio.  This little guy is about the size of a pop can and is very approachable.

Its tooting calls sound like a knife being sharpened on a whet stone.

Eastern Screech Owl
Eastern Screech Owl
(photo by Bob Jacksy)

Eastern Screech Owl (Otus asio)

The Eastern Screech Owl is the most common of Ohio owls.  Local naturalist Laurel VanCamp wrote the most comprehensive life history to-date about these small birds.  The plumage of this bird can be either red, gray, or intermediate in color.

Its whiny calls have been thought to be ghosts in the woods.

(Screech Owl Call #1)  
(Screech Owl Call #2)  

Additional picture:  Screech Owl Family

Make your own screech owl nesting box.  Click here for free downloadable plans.

Long Eared Owl
Long-eared Owl
(photo by Bob Jacksy)

Long-eared Owl (Asio otus)

The Long-eared Owl is quite similar to its cousin the short-eared owl, but with very noticeable ear tufts.  It is mainly a nocturnal hunter.  Groups of these owls are sometimes found roosting together during the day in winter.

The long-eared is not a common Ohio owl.

Short Eared Owl
Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus)

The Short-eared Owl rarely nests in Ohio due to loss of old field and marsh habitats.  This bird can sometimes be seen during the winter at the state parks along western Lake Erie.

The short-eared owl is medium in size.  They commonly look for food during the day from late afternoon until dark.  This is a favorite Ohio owl of winter bird watchers.

Barn Owl
Barn Owl

Common Barn Owl (Tyto alba)

The Barn Owl has been placed on the Ohio endangered species list due to habitat loss and the tearing down of the old barns.  Consequently the common barn owl is not very common in Ohio.

This bird is very light colored and medium in size.  It is truly the farmer's friend and has been called a "flying mouse trap."

We can help this spectacular bird make a comeback by preserving and managing old field habitats, allowing farm field fence rows to grow, and providing safe nesting sites.

More Barn Owl Pictures:

Barn Owl Face    Barn Owl Wings    Barn Owl Back

Barred Owl
Barred Owl

Barred Owl (Strix varia)

The barred owl is well know for its call.  Some think the call sounds like someone saying, "who cooks for you".

The barred lacks ear tufts and its eyes are very dark.  It is a larger, stocky owl, brown in color.  The feathers on it's neck and breast have a cross-barring pattern to them.

It likes wooded, swampy bottom lands.  It can be found in large wooded areas capable of sustaining sufficient prey.

(Barred Owl Call)   


More Barred Owl Pictures:

Barred Owl (awake)    Baby Barred Owl    Baby Barred Owl (a little older)

Great Horned Owl
Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)

The great horned owl is the largest of the Ohio owls nesting in this state.  The "horns" that give this owl it's name are actually tufts of feathers.  Its loud "whoo whoo whoo whoo whoo" can be heard at a great distance.

This bird is not picky about what it eats.  It will feed on anything from snakes to skunks.

Great horned owls have adapted very well to land alterations created by humans.  It is very common in Ohio and throughout North America.

(Great Horned Owl call)   

More Great Horned Owl Pictures:

Great Horned Owl   Great Horned owl Eye   Great Horned owl Face

Snowy Owl
Snowy Owl
(photo by Sherrie Duris)

Snowy Owl (Nyctea scandiaca)

The snowy is the largest North American owl.  This stunning white bird nests only on the arctic tundra.  They are sometimes seen in Ohio during the winter, especially near the shore of lake Erie.

This one was seen sitting on the roof of a house in Point Place, Ohio in late November / early December.

Information provided by Bob Jacksy, Toledo Area Metroparks Naturalist

Owl Calls are used with the permission of Tony Phillips (http://www.math.sunysb.edu/~tony/birds/). 

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