Many people like the mysterious owl. Their camouflage and nocturnal habits make them all the more fascinating, since we seldom see them due to their camouflage. It may also make you curious about the quantity of different owl species that live in my neighborhood. We’ll take a look at Maryland’s eight different species of owls in this article.
8 OWLS IN MARYLAND
The barn owl, barred owl, eastern screech owl, great-horned owl, long-eared owl, northern saw-whet Owl, and short-eared Owl are the eight species of owls found in Maryland.
Maryland is a smaller state, but it has a variety of habitats that may be suitable for owls, including woods and beaches. These may be seen in wooded areas, even in D.C., and are comfortable around humans. You’ll have to go farther afield to see some of the others, as they’re located in more mature woodland.
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
While they are difficult to locate, barn owls may be found year-round in Maryland. Grasslands, fields, ranches, agricultural land, and strips of forest are the most common open habitats for them.
Barn owls prefer to construct their nests in barns, attics, and church steeples, among other man-made constructions with plenty of eaves and beams. One of the ways they got their moniker was this. Tree cavities, caves, and cliffs are also used as nests. During the day, Barn Owls are difficult to locate since they are quite nocturnal.
They fly low over fields at dusk and through the night, using their exceptional hearing to detect mice and other rodents. When you see them in low light, their enormous, ghostly white face and belly may be a frightening sight!
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
Maryland’s magnificent brown and white striped barred owl may be seen all year and is rather frequent. These birds prefer to stay in close proximity to home, with a 10-mile radius being typical.
Despite the fact that their habitat frequently overlaps with that of the great horned owl, they do not like to be in the same place. barred owl eggs, juvenile birds, and even adults are sought after by great horned owls.
Barsred owls favor watery places with big traces of uninterrupted forest, especially when there are old trees. During the day, you might glimpse them roosting in trees. During the night, when they are hunting, they are most active.
Their strange and distinct hooting cry has been characterized as “who cooks for you?” “Who prepares your meals?” A mated pair will sing a variety of hoots, honks, caws, and gurgles throughout the course of their relationship.
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 much of the eastern United States, including Maryland, this little owl can be found year-round.
Gray, brown, or “red” (which is really a reddish brown) are the three color varieties of eastern screech owls. The patterns on their feathers, regardless of color, help them blend in with tree bark and provide excellent camouflage.
They may be named after a piercing or high-pitched sound, but this is untrue. They make trilling noises or “whinnies” that sound like a high-pitched horse, rather than hooting.
You may attract eastern screech owls to your yard by installing an appropriately sized nest box. Farmland, city parks, and suburban neighborhoods are all home to these little owls. With some tree cover, it’s practically anywhere.
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 huge size, yellow eyes, and “horns” of feathers that stick out on either side of their head, great horned owls are one of the most prevalent and identifiable owls in North America.
Forests, swamps, deserts, and urban environments such as city parks are all habitats for these owls. They have a variety of colors in their plumage, ranging from cool to warm brown. All year, they may be found in Maryland.
Mammalian, avian, reptile, insect, and fish make up the varied diet of great horned owls. The sound made by owls is commonly referred to as their hoot, and it is frequently used in television and films.
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 Maryland and migrate there. Although they are far less prevalent in the state than other species, you’ll have to hunt for them. Pine stands or wooded areas near grassland and pastures are their preferred environment.
They may have a surprised expression because of their bright yellow eyes, white V-shaped facial pattern, round face disc, and long feather tufts that point straight up. Great horned owls have a much more rounded face with a white V on it, which is a good way to differentiate them.
In Maryland, you won’t often hear long-eared owls hooting because they are mostly quiet during the breeding season.
Because of their superb camouflage and the location of their roosting in thick woods, they are difficult to detect.
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
The round head and yellow eyes of northern saw-whet owls make them look small. There are a few additional reasons why these owls are difficult to locate, in addition to their small size.
When they’re perched motionlessly on a branch, their mottled brown plumage blends in easily with the trees around them. Because these owls are only active at night, you won’t encounter them when it’s bright outside.
Learning the call of a northern saw-whet owl and listening for it at night, particularly between January and May, is the best strategy for finding one. They are known as the “saw-whet” owl because of their distinctive call, which sounds like a blade being sharpened on a whetstone (too-too-too).
They prefer dense and mature woods, and are only seen in Maryland during the non-breeding season. Little animals 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
Only in the winter do short-eared owls come down to Maryland, where they spend the summer nearly exclusively in Canada and northern United States.
They feature “ear tuft” feathers, although they are so short as to be virtually never seen. Their name implies that. Marshes, gravel and rock quarries, fields, woodlots, and thickets are all places to look for them throughout the winter. Due to the demographics of their prey, such as moles, rats, rabbits, and weasels, the populations of these species in a certain region might change yearly.
They are particularly vulnerable to habitat destruction and fragmentation from the vast open grasslands they need, which necessitates that they be transformed into farm land, grazing land, recreational sites, and housing development. Their numbers are believed to be declining as a result.
They may be found all around the world and may cross large distances across open water.
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
Although snowy owls have a wintering range that extends across much of Canada, each year they seem to be going farther south into the United States. During the winter months in Maryland, at least a few may be seen. Year to year, the quantity may vary greatly.
During the summer, these stunning owls go far north to Canada and Greenland’s arctic regions to breed. They’ll be on the lookout for lemmings all day long, their favorite summer meal.
Because of their brilliant white plumage, if there are snowy owls around you, they’re easier to see than other owls. They are diurnal, like most other owls, and are thus active during the day. They like hunting in open areas, such as fields and beaches. In reality, Maryland’s coastal regions are the best places to hunt for them. Look for them perched out in the open on snowy beaches or in the ground.
Snowy owls are wanderers who seldom remain in one place once they reach maturity. Hundreds of miles away from each other, owls from the same nest that were tracked have been discovered in opposing directions.