Many people are fond of the enigmatic owl. Because of their camouflage and nocturnal habits, they remain intriguing despite the fact that most of us never get to see them. It might also make you wonder how many different kinds of owls live in my neighborhood? We’ll take a look at the eight different owls found in Delaware in this article.
8 OWLS IN DELAWARE
The barn owl, barred owl, eastern screech owl, great-horned owl, long-eared Owl, northern saw-whet Owl, short-eared Owl and snowy Owl are the eight species of owls found in Delaware.
Delaware offers a variety of habitats that may be home to owls, despite its smaller size. Owls are frequently seen in preserves and parks along the seashore. The following are some excellent places to start:
- Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge
- Little Creed Wildlife Area
- Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge
- Delaware Seashore State Park
- Milford Neck Wildlife Area
1. BARN OWL
- Scientific name: Tyto alba
- Length: 12.6 – 15.8 in
- Wingspan: 39.4 – 49.2 in
- Weight: 14.1 – 24.7 oz
Although they are difficult to locate year-round, barn owls may be found in Delaware. Grasslands, fields, ranches, agricultural land, and strips of woodland are the habitats they prefer. In wildlife refuges along the Delaware Bay shore, I witnessed the majority of recorded sightings in Delaware.
Barn owls prefer to build their nests on barns, attics, and church steeples, among other man-made constructions with a lot of eaves and beams. One of the reasons they got their moniker may be this. Tree holes, caverns, and cliff-side caves are also used as nests. During the day, Barn Owls are difficult to find, as they are very nocturnal.
2. BARRED OWL
- Scientific name: Strix varia
- Length: 16.9 – 19.7 in
- Wingspan: 39.0 – 43.3 in
- Weight: 16.6 – 37.0 oz
The lovely brown and white striped barred owl can be found year-round in Delaware and is not uncommon. These birds prefer to reside within a 10-mile radius of their birthplace.
They don’t like to be in the same location as the big horned owl, even though their habitat frequently overlaps. Barred owl eggs, juvenile birds, and even adults are all targets for great horned owls.
Barred owls favor trees near water, especially if there are large patterns of uninterrupted forest, because they like mixed and old trees. Throughout the day, you may see them roosting in trees on a hiking trail. During the night, when hunting, they are particularly active.
Their shrill, distinctive hoot is thought to be equivalent to “who makes you dinner?” “Who cooks for you all?” A mated pair will sing a variety of hoots, honks, caws, and gurgles throughout the course of their courtship.
3. EASTERN SCREECH-OWL
- Scientific name: Megascops asio
- Length: 6.3 – 9.8 in
- Wingspan: 18.9 – 24.0 in
- Weight: 4.3 – 8.6 oz
Throughout most of the eastern US, including Delaware, this little owl may be found all year.
Gray, brown, or “red” (really a reddish brown) are the three different plumage tones of eastern screech owls. The designs on their feathers, regardless of color, aid them in blending in with tree bark for a stunning effect.
Their name might imply that they make a ear-piercing or earsplitting cry, but this is not the case. Instead of hooting, they emit trilling noises or “whinnies,” which sound like a high-pitched horse.
Eastern screech owls may be attracted to your yard by placing up an appropriately sized nest box. Farmland, city parks, and suburban neighborhoods are all home to these little owls. Almost anyplace with some tree cover is a good spot.
4. GREAT HORNED OWL
- Scientific name: Bubo virginianus
- Length: 18.1 – 24.8 in
- Wingspan: 39.8 – 57.1 in
- Weight: 32.1 – 88.2 oz
Due to their massive size, yellow eyes, and “horns” of feathers that stick out on either side of their head, great horned owls are one of the most common and well-known owls in North America.
Forests, swamps, deserts, and urban environments such as city parks are all habitats for these owls. They have a cool or warm brown plumage that may change color. Throughout Delaware, they can be found year-round.
Mammalian, avian, reptile, insect, and fish are among the foods of great horned owls. The sound owls make is often referred to as their hoot, and it’s what most people associate with them.
5. LONG-EARED OWL
- Scientific name: Asio otus
- Length: 13.8 – 15.8 in (height)
- Wingspan: 35.4 – 39.4 in
- Weight: 7.8 – 15.3 oz
During the winter, long-eared owls may be found in Delaware. Despite their rarity in the state, you have to really seek for them because they are much less common. Pine stands or woods near grassland and pastures are their preferred habitat.
Their wide, brilliant yellow eyes, white V-shaped facial pattern, oval face disc, and long feather tufts that point straight up make them look perpetually startled. Great horned owls have a very rounded face with a white V, which is a great way to identify them.
During non-breeding season, long-eared owls are mostly quiet, so you won’t often hear their hooting throughout Delaware.
They’re difficult to spot because of their camouflage and ability to hide in thick forests during the day.
6. NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL
- Scientific name: Aegolius acadicus
- Length: 7.1-8.3 inches
- Weight: 2.3-5.3 oz
- Wingspan: 16.5-18.9 inches
With a spherical skull and yellow eyes, northern saw-whet owls are tiny. These owls are also notoriously difficult to locate for a number of reasons, in addition to their small size.
When they sit motionlessly on a limb, their patchy brown plumage blends in nicely with the branches around them. These owls are mostly active at night, so you won’t encounter them while it’s day outside. They’re also naturally secretive.
The finest strategy to locate a northern saw-whet owl is to familiarize yourself with its cry and listen for it at night, particularly between January and May. They are known as “saw-whet” owls because of their unusual call, which sounds like a blade being sharpened on a whetstone (too-too-too).
They prefer deep and mature woods, and they are only seen in Delaware during the non-breeding season. Little rodents like mice and voles make up the majority of their diet.
7. SHORT-EARED OWL
- Scientific name: Asio flammeus
- Length: 15 in
- Wingspan: 38 in
- Weight: 12 oz
Short-eared owls only come down into Delaware during the winter and spend the summer almost exclusively in Canada and northern United States. I see the majority of their sightings in Delaware along the coast.
They do have ear tuft feathers, but they are so short that they are virtually never visible. As the name suggests, they have a tuft of hair on their ears. Marshes, gravel and rock quarries, fields, woodlots, and thickets are all places to look for them during the winter. In accordance to the population of their prey, such as moles, rats, rabbits, and weasels, their populations in a specific region might change from year to year.
Because they are particularly sensitive to habitat loss and fragmentation from the huge open grasslands they need to be transformed into agricultural land, grazing land, leisure sites, and residential development, their populations are thought to be declining overall.
They can travel over open ocean and are found all over the globe in a variety of habitats.
8. SNOWY OWL
- Scientific name: Bubo scandiacus
- Length: 20.5-27.9 inches
- Weight: 56.4-104.1 oz
- Wingspan: 49.6-57.1 inches
While most of Canada is home to snowy owls, each year they expand their range southward into the United States. During the winter months in Delaware, at least a few can be seen. Year to year, the quantity may fluctuate dramatically.
During the summer, these magnificent owls go far north to breed in Canada’s and Greenland’s Arctic areas. Throughout the day, they’ll pursue their favorite summer snack, lemmings.
Because of their bright white plumage, snowy owls are easier to see than other owls if they are nearby. They are diurnal, like most other owls, and are out and about during the day. They favor hunting in open areas, such as fields and beaches. In Delaware, visiting the coast is the best place to hunt for them. Look for them on the ground or perched out in the open on snowy beaches.
Once they reach maturity, snowy owls become wanderers and frequently don’t return to their birthplace. Hundreds of miles away from each other, owls from the same nest have been discovered in opposing directions.