With a surface area of over 663,000 square miles, it is the greatest state in the United States. It could easily fit Texas into Alaska twice! Several species of birds that prefer warmer climes do not make it this far north, as far north as Alaska is. Despite this, the state continues to have a variety of birds, including a number of owls, according to various sources. The nine kinds of owls found in Alaska, as well as the best ways to locate them, will be covered in this article.
9 SPECIES OF OWLS IN ALASKA
Alaska is situated north of Canada and is our 49th state. Many owls, some of which are not found in many other places around the nation, call the state home.
Western Screech Owl, Great Horned Owl, Snowy Owl, Northern Hawk Owl, Great Gray owl, Short-eared owl, Boreal Owl, Northern Pygmy-owl and Northern Saw-whet Owl are the nine species of owls found in Alaska.
1. NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL
Length: 7.1-8.3 in
Weight: 2.3-5.3 oz
Wingspan: 16.5-18.9 in
Apart from South Alaska near the shore and then into Southeastern Alaska and the panhandle, Northern Saw-whet Owls aren’t found in the majority of Alaska. These species may be found throughout Alaska throughout the year. Due to their small size, camouflage-like coloration, and secretive nature, Northern Saw-whet Owls prefer to dwell in thick coniferous woods and groves.
It’s typically unnoticed in places where it occurs because it’s so good at staying motionless and avoiding notice. To make locating it simpler, listen for its high-pitched “too-too-too” cry. Males will make this cry for hours throughout the breeding season, giving you a good opportunity to hear it.
Consider putting up a nesting box for Northern Saw-whet Owls if you live in Alaska or an area where they breed. It will not only allow you to observe a pair of owls in their habitat, but it will also increase your odds of seeing these tiny birds up close.
2. BOREAL OWL
Length: 8.3-11.0 in
Weight: 3.3-7.6 oz
Wingspan: 21.6-24.4 in
In most of Alaska, Boreal Owls may be found in thick mixed-wood and coniferous woodlands year-round, though they are less common in Western Alaska. These birds are enigmatic, and particularly at day, it’s difficult to find them. Don’t expect to locate them in the same spots because they roost in a different tree everyday.
They’re tiny owls with huge, square skulls and stocky bodies with short tails. They’re about the size of a robin. Before swooping down and grabbing their meal with their talons, they perch at night and wait for prey such as tiny creatures and birds. Boreal owls are usually quiet and seldom call. Males, however, call for mates more frequently in the late winter and early spring. For a better chance of hearing them, listen for these quick hoots at night.
3. NORTHERN PYGMY-OWL
Length: 6.4-7.1 in
Weight: 2.1-2.5 oz
Wingspan: 14.5–16 in
The high, rocky western United States is home to the Northern Pygmy-Owl, which has a limited range north of the border with Canada. They are technically residents of Alaska since they reside year-round in the southern sections of the Alaska Panhandle. They’re active during the day, making it easier to spot them than most other nocturnal owls, but they’re still quite tiny and usually perched motionless for prey — so you’ll need to keep your eyes peeled.
To help you locate them, try to get acquainted with their high-pitched toots and calls. Groups of singing birds may be a source of commotion, too. They’ll frequently mob a Northern Pygmy-Owl if they spot one, attempting to drive it away.
Given that a Northern Pygmy-Owl’s diet includes a lot of tiny birds, it’s only fair. A birder who imitates a Northern Pygmy-Owl’s call may be mobbed by these songbirds and chickadees.
4. WESTERN-SCREECH OWL
Length: 7.5-9.8 in
Weight: 3.5-10.8 oz
Wingspan: 21.6-24.4 in
Another owls species exclusively found in the panhandle of Western Alaska is Western-screech Owls. They have stocky bodies and short tails and are small, robin-sized owls. When they’re roosting in holes throughout the day, their mostly gray-brown plumage with streaky undersides helps them blend in well with trees.
They perch still and quietly before flying and catching their victim at night. They may also catch reptiles, fish, and small birds in mid-flight to supplement their diet.
Waiting for Western-screech Owls to call at night is frequently the best way of locating other nocturnal owls. Their toots have a rapid, ascending tone and end in a rush of higher tones. If you reside in their territory, erecting a nesting box in your yard may be a good idea.
5. GREAT HORNED OWL
Length: 18.1-24.8 in
Weight: 32.1-88.2 oz
Wingspan: 39.8-57.1 in
The Great Horned Owl is commonly the first owl that comes to mind when someone thinks of an owl. These owls have huge cat-like eyes, long tufts on their heads, thick stocky bodies, and a deep, mystery hoot that are all characteristic of tale-book owls.
They are found throughout Alaska year-round, but not particularly common in north Alaska. They are one of the most prevalent owls across North America. The Great Horned Owl prefers a variety of environments, especially woodlands with abundant open areas. These huge owls may kill prey substantially bigger than themselves because to their aggressiveness.
Rodents, reptiles, and birds as large as hawks and geese are among the animals they eat. Because of the delicate feathers that cover their whole bodies, they are able to fly quietly and dive-bomb their prey.
6. SHORT-EARED OWL
Length: 13.4-16.9 in
Weight: 7.3-16.8 oz
Wingspan: 33.5-40.5 in
During the breeding season, Short-eared Owls may be found all over Alaska. Because of their frequent daytime activity and tendency to occupy open spaces like fields and grasslands, they’re also one of the easier owl species to spot. They have large, rounded wings that enable them to fly with a lightness that appears to be weightless.
Short-eared Owls, unlike most other owls, are frequently seen sitting on the ground instead of perched. Their heads are actually very smooth, despite their name implying that they have short ears. These have tufts, but they’re tiny and difficult to discern.
7. GREAT GRAY OWL
Length: 24.0-33.1 in
Weight: 24.7-60.0 oz
Wingspan: 53.9-60.2 in
In Central and Southern Alaska, Great Gray Owls may be found all year. They’re one of the tallest owls in America, and they’re very big birds with broad wings and a long tail. Because of their enormous facial disks, their eyes appear tiny and close together. Another distinguishing feature is a white “X” pattern on their faces. Their bodies are covered in soft, silver gray feathers, as their name implies.
These owls aren’t particularly noisy or joyful, and they don’t tend to draw a lot of notice. They avoid human habitation by dwelling in thick pine woodlands and on the fringes of meadows. They are most active at night, hunting mostly in the hours leading up to dusk and dawn, as are other owls.
8. SNOWY OWL
Length: 20.5-27.9 in
Weight: 56.4-104.1 oz
Wingspan: 49.6-57.1 in
The wintering range of the Snowy Owls is found across Alaska. They do, however, remain in certain areas of northern Alaska throughout the year. Snowy Owls are mostly seen in the Arctic Tundra throughout the spring and summer, with the bulk of Canada and Alaska during winter. They normally appear in vast locations like fields when they first arrive.
Because of their lovely snow-white plumage that covers their huge, round bodies, snowy owls stand out from other owls. Males have less black and dark brown patterns on their bodies than females do. The eyes of both sexes are a deep yellow color.
9. NORTHERN HAWK OWL
Length: 14.2-17.7 in
Weight: 8.5-16.0 oz
Wingspan: 27.9 in
The range of Northern Hawk Owls extends from Canada to southern and central Alaska, although they are more common in Canada. These remarkable birds have the demeanor of a hawk but the physiognomy of an owl. With short wings and a long, pointed tail, they have oval-shaped medium-sized bodies.
They have large, rounded heads with yellow eyes and white faces, as do many owls. But, like hawks, they hunt in the daylight, perched on trees and swooping after prey about dawn and dusk. Their eyesight is also excellent, and they can see prey from nearly a half-mile away, same as hawks.