7 Species Of Owls In Alabama (Pictures)

We’ll investigate several fascinating and interesting facts about owls in Alabama, as well as examine some photographs to help you identify them if you encounter one! If you have a little guidance, you’ll be able to tell the difference between these owls based on their looks, calls, and migratory habits.


Owls can be difficult for newbies and experienced birders alike to identify due to their elusive personalities and nocturnal nature. However, since we will look at some of these owls in more detail, you may discover that they are not as identical as they seem at first glance.

The Barn Owl, Eastern Screech-owl, Great Horned Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Short-eared Owl, Long-eared Owl, and Barred Owl are the seven species of owls that may be found in the state of Alabama at different times of the year.

So you can see what each species looks like, let’s take a look at this list of Alabama’s owls.


Length: 12.6 – 15.8 in

Weight: 14.1 – 24.7 oz

Wingspan: 39.4 – 49.2 in

Among all the species, this one is unique. In North America, they are the family’s only representatives (the Strigidae or “genuine owls” family includes the rest of this list).

The heart-shaped face disk, serrated centre claws, and small(ish) eyes distinguish Barn Owls from the rest of the owls. Their toes are exposed and their legs are lengthy. Their tails are small and square, while their wings are rounded and long.

In flight, their faces and underwings are very apparent because of their soft white color. The body of the remaining portion can be yellowish/gold to rusty in color. Plumage is fairly comparable across ages and sexes, despite the fact that females are often a little darker and bigger than males.

The Barn Owls are exclusively nocturnal, and they won’t come out during the day. Rats, mice, voles, lemmings, and other rodents are among the small mammals they consume each night. Skinks, bats, and rabbits are also a source of food.

Barn Owls scream, hiss, shriek, whistle, and screech instead of producing a lot of a “hoot” like the Strigids. While begging for food, the female will utilize a softer cry than these noises are typically associated with.

Throughout the year, you can see these owls in Alabama.

Fun fact:

Some of the names for Barn Owls include Ghost, Demon, Golden, Death, Hobgoblin, Monkey-faced, and Church Owl. Several of these names are unsettling and gloomy, which may be due to the fact that they are linked with negative omens and evil in certain cultures.


Length: 6.3 – 9.8 in

Weight: 4.3 – 8.6 oz

Wingspan: 18.9 – 24.0 in

Gray, rufous, and intermediate color morphs of Southern Screech Owls are seen in most populations, although one is more dominant. Rufous morphs are widespread in the Southeast, including Alabama.

With a black-rimmed facial disk and ear tufts, these morons are more reddish overall. Their shoulders are dotted white and their bellies have ripply streaks. These birds are significantly smaller than starlings and bulkier in size, even compared to their northern morphs.

They can be found in Alabama year-round. They’re frequently found around the suburbs. Since there are fewer predators here, fledglings typically occur at a faster rate. Male animals are known to stray and mate with a second female on occasion, even if they are in love with one female. The first woman might be kicked out of the nest and replaced by the new girl, who could hatch both clutches and incubate them.

This species is typically heard, not seen. These animals have a horse-like whinnying sound. The key to identifying them as they have excellent camouflage is to train your ears for their sweet voice.

Fun fact:

These little birds are skilled at catching a wide range of prey, including reptiles, insects, animals, and even birds. They may even be cannibalistic in their quest for food. They store extra food in tree holes for several days when food supplies are plentiful.


Length: 18.1 – 24.8 in

Weight: 32.1 – 88.2 oz

Wingspan: 39.8 – 57.1 in

The top of these huge owls is grey, with a barred belly. They have prominent white feathering collars and ear tuftings. Their looks have been characterized as “catlike” on many occasions. The colors vary depending on the region. The breast and face of the Eastern version are dotted with cinnamon tones.

In North America, great-horned owls are one of the most common owls. Their adaptability to thrive in a range of environments is credited with their worldwide presence. Forests, meadows, rainforests, deserts, tundra borders, wetlands, cities, and yards are all part of this. In the state of Alabama, they can be found throughout the year.

One may define the hoo hoo-HOO sound of these owls as “classic” in terms of owl hoots. Duets will be sung by both sexes. In comparison to males, females have a higher-pitched voice.

Fun fact:

These guys are strong and daring. They grip strength is insane, considering they weigh less than three pounds and require 28 pounds of force to release. They can fight enormous prey like Osprey (they swallow little meals like frogs and scorpions to stay strong) with their super-owl power.


Length: 16.9 – 19.7 in

Weight: 16.7 – 37.0 oz

Wingspan: 39.0 – 43.3 in

The tail and wings of barred owls are partially barred, and they’re brown and white. They have dark streaking on their pale bellies. Their pitch-black eyes shouldn’t bother you if you make eye contact.

Watery parts of a mixed woodlands are favorite habitats for these owls. Swamps, forested riverbanks, and uplands are examples of this. Amphibians, reptiles, mammals, birds, fish, and invertebrates are among the animals they hunt there. These birds will sit over water, waiting for fish and crawdads, and will even wade into shallow water to catch something nice.

These owls may be found all year in Alabama. They prefer to stay in the same area and aren’t prone to moving around. None of the 158 birds re-found after being banded had traveled more than 6 miles away, according to one banding experiment.

It’s likely a Barred Owl if you hear a call that sounds like “who cooks for you, who cooks for you all” while out and about at night. Mimicry makes it simple to summon them. Barred Owls, unlike many other species, are more likely to be heard during the day.

Fun fact:

It’s likely a Barred Owl if you hear a call that sounds like “who cooks for you, who cooks for you all” while out and about at night. Mimicry makes it simple to summon them. Barred Owls, unlike many other species, are more likely to be heard during the day.

In Florida, Tennessee, and Ontario, Pleistocene fossils of Barred Owls were discovered that were at least 11,000 years old.


Length: 13.8-15.8 in (35-40 cm)

Weight: 7.8-15.3 oz (220-435 g)

Wingspan: 35.4-39.4 in (90-100 cm)

The southernmost part of the range of Long-eared Owls extends into Alabama, but the birds spend most of their time farther north. These birds are found throughout the breeding season, which stretches across Canada, before heading south for the winter.

These owls prefer to roost in groups throughout the winter. They are difficult to detect due to their excellent camouflage and love of roosting in thick forests. They don’t create their own nests, instead utilizing those of other birds that have been abandoned.

Fun fact:

A male Long-eared Owl’s hoot has a long reach and may be heard from nearly a mile away.


Length: 13.4-16.9 in (34-43 cm)

Weight: 7.3-16.8 oz (206-475 g)

Wingspan: 33.5-40.5 in (85-103 cm)

Open terrain is preferred by the Short-eared Owl, who may be found at airports as well as fields and marshes. They prefer to breed farther north, similar to their relative the Long-eared Owl, although you may see one in Alabama during the winter.

These owls are most active early in the morning and at dusk, and they can be seen in broad daylight. While waiting for prey, they will sit on the ground before flying very low and swooping down to capture whatever meal happens to be in front of them.

Fun fact:

Short-eared Owls are one of the most widely distributed owls in the world and may be found in every state in the United States. Despite their rarity, they are a common sight. Even in Alaska and Hawaii, the state has a presence.


Length: 7.1-8.3 in (18-21 cm)

Weight: 2.3-5.3 oz (65-151 g)

Wingspan: 16.5-18.9 in (42-48 cm)

Some of the southern states, such as Alabama, are home to Northern Saw-whet Owls during the winter. According to allaboutbirds.org, they aren’t particularly frequent and have a non-breeding (scarce) range in Alabama. These animals are wild and active, with the majority of their hunting occurring at night. As a result, they are increasingly difficult to find.

The Saw-whet Owl’s cry, which resembles a saw-blade on a whetstone, may have given it its name. These birds eat adult mice in parts during their two-meal diet, as opposed to most owls that consume the prey whole.

Fun fact:

A male Northern Saw-whet Owl will circle a female 20 times in flight before landing beside her and presenting her with a prey item after receiving the signal from her that it is ok to begin the courtship process.

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