11 Owls In Minnesota (With Photos)

Owls are fascinating and mysterious to many people. Because of their camouflage and nocturnal habits, they are all the more fascinating because we never see them. It’s also possible that it will pique your interest in how many different owl species may be discovered in my area? The 11 kinds of owls found in Minnesota will be discussed in this essay.


Barn owl, barred owl, boreal owl, eastern screech owl, great gray owl, great-horned Owl, long-eared Owl, northern hawk Owl, northern saw-whet Owl and snowy Owl are the eleven species of owls that may be found in Minnesota.

Several of the owls that spend part or all of their time in Canada may visit Minnesota. Here are a few excellent locations in Minnesota to see some of the more reclusive species, while each owl prefers somewhat different habitat.


  • Scientific name:  Tyto alba
  • Length: 12.6 – 15.8 in
  • Wingspan: 39.4 – 49.2 in
  • Weight: 14.1 – 24.7 oz

While they have been spotted in the north and south of the state, barn owls are true year-round residents in Minnesota. Their range is strictly limited to the southern half. They aren’t particularly prevalent, and finding them may be challenging. Grasslands, fields, ranches, agricultural land, and strips of woodland are the preferred environments for them.

Barn owls prefer to build nests in barns, attics, and church steeples because they like the protection of eaves and beams. This is how they got their moniker, most likely. Tree cavities, caves, and cliff sides are also used to breed. During the day, Barn Owls are difficult to spot because they are so nocturnal.

They fly low over fields at dusk and through the night, using their superb hearing to detect mice and other rodents. If you catch a glimpse of them in low light, their huge, ghostly white face and belly may give you a creepy feeling!


  • 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 is widespread in Minnesota, with the eastern part of the state being home to the majority of them. These birds prefer to live close to home and seldom travel farther than 10 miles during their lifetime.

They do not like to be in the same area as the great horned owl, even though their range frequently overlaps. Barred owl eggs, juvenile birds, and even adults are hunted by great horned owls.

Barred owls favor trees beside water, particularly if they are large trails of uninterrupted woodland. During the day, you might see them roosting in trees. When hunting, however, they are most active at night.

Their loud and distinctive 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.


  • Scientific name: Aegolius funereus
  • Length: 8.3-11.0 in
  • Weight: 3.3-7.6 oz
  • Wingspan: 21.6-24.4 in

The boreal forest, which stretches from northern North America to Eurasia, is home to boreal owls, as the name implies. Just a few states, including Minnesota, are far enough south for them. The United States is a little too far south for them. In the state forests of the northeast corner and along Lake Superior, you’re more likely to find them in the northern half of the state.

They’re difficult to see, particularly during the day, because they’re strange birds. Each day, they change where they roost, so don’t expect to see them in the same tree you saw them yesterday. If you happen to live in their range, however, they will utilize a nestbox.

They’re tiny owls with enormous, square heads, stocky bodies, and short tails that are about the size of a robin. Before swooping down and grabbing their prey with their talons, they perch and wait for small mammals and birds to come at night.

Boreal owls are mostly a calm species that doesn’t call much. Yet, as males call for mates more frequently in the late winter and early spring, this behavior changes. For a greater chance of discovering them, listen for these rapid hoots at night.


  • Scientific name: Megascops asio
  • Length: 6.3 – 9.8 in
  • Wingspan: 18.9 – 24.0 in
  • Weight: 4.3 – 8.6 oz

The majority of the eastern United States, including southern and western Minnesota, has a year-round population of this little owl.

Gray, brown, or “red” (really a reddish brown) are the three plumage hues of eastern screech owls. The designs on their feathers blend them in with tree bark, regardless of what hue they have.

Their name implies that they produce a high-pitched sound, but this isn’t accurate. They don’t hoot, instead producing shrill tones or “whinnies,” which sound like a high-pitched horse.

You may attract eastern screech owls to your yard by setting up an appropriately sized nest box. Farmland, city parks, and suburban neighborhoods are all home to these little owls. Anywhere with some tree cover is a good bet.


  • Scientific name: Strix nebulosa
  • Length: 24.0-33.1 in
  • Weight: 24.7-60.0 oz
  • Wingspan: 53.9-60.2 in

Throughout Alaska and Canada, great gray owls may be found year-round, although they are uncommon in the continental United States. Their range, especially in the forested northeast, includes northern Minnesota.

A “bow tie” at the neck, a strip of white feathers with black in the middle, distinguishes these big owls from other species. Voles, gophers, chipmunks, and other tiny creatures are hunted in meadows and clearings by great gray owls that dwell in thick evergreen woods of the north. In the United States, it is known as Close to montane meadows, they favor pine and fir woodlands.


  • Scientific name: Bubo virginianus
  • Length: 18.1 – 24.8 in
  • Wingspan: 39.8 – 57.1 in
  • Weight: 32.1 – 88.2 oz

Because of their huge size, yellow eyes, and “horns” of feathers that protrude out on either side of their head, great horned owls are one of the most prevalent and well-known owls in North America. Throughout Minnesota, you may find them all year.

Forests, marshes, deserts, and metropolitan parks are just a few of the places where these owls may be found. The majority of their plumage is a cool or warm brown color, which may change.

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, which is what most people think of when they hear the word.


  • 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 breeding season, long-eared owls may be seen in northern and central Minnesota, before retreating to the south during winter. Pine stands or woodlands beside grassland and pasture are their preferred environment.

They can give them a perpetually surprised look with their vivid yellow eyes, white V-shaped facial pattern, round face disc, and long feather tufts that point straight up. Great horned owls may be distinguished from each other by their rounded faces with white V.

Their camouflage and tendency to roost in thick woods makes them difficult to spot. On spring and summer evenings, you may hear their long, low hoots.


  • Scientific name: Surnia ulula
  • Length: 14.2-17.7 in
  • Weight: 8.5-16.0 oz
  • Wingspan: 27.9 in

The winter range of Northern Hawk Owls extends down into the northern United States, including much of Minnesota. They are most commonly found in Canada and Alaska.

When they arrive in the United States, these owls don’t move around much. The population is typically up when the breeding season is over, although the number of their prey animals has decreased. As a result, certain owls will travel farther than usual in order to find food. The bird observers will be happy.

They have huge, spherical heads with yellow eyes and white cheeks, much like other owls. They, like hawks, hunt during the day around dawn and dusk, perched on trees before swooping after prey. hawks have exceptional eyesight, allowing them to see prey from up to half a mile away.

Lakeshores, meadows, and wooded farmland are popular places for them to stop when they reach the United States.


  • 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 head and yellow eyes, northern saw-whet owls are small. There are a few additional reasons why these owls are famously difficult to detect, in addition to their tiny size.

When they’re perched motionlessly on a branch, their mottled brown plumage blends in easily to the surroundings trees. Because these owls are only active at night, you won’t see them during the day because they are naturally reclusive.

When they call most frequently between January and May, the best bet for finding a northern saw-whet owl is to learn its call and listen for it at night. They are known as the saw-whet owl because of their distinctive cry, which sounds like a blade being sharpened on a whetstone. Their whistled notes of the same pitch make up their too-too-too call.

The diet of these owls mainly includes tiny mammals like mice and voles, which they prefer in thick and mature woods. They may only be winter residents in the southwestern part of the state, but they stay all year throughout most of Minnesota.


  • Scientific name: Asio flammeus
  • Length: 15 in
  • Wingspan: 38 in
  • Weight: 12 oz

The summer is spent almost entirely in Canada and the northern United States by short-eared owls. In southern Minnesota, they live all year, while in central and northern Minnesota, they spend their breeding season.

They do have ear tuft feathers, however they are so short that they are virtually never seen. Like many owls, they have yellow eyes, but the black surrounding their eyes adds to the brightness. marshes, gravel and rock quarries, fields, woodlots, and thickets are good places to look for them during the winter. In close relation to the population of their prey, such as moles, rats, rabbits, and weasels, their populations in a specific location may fluctuate year to year.

Because they are particularly sensitive to habitat destruction and fragmentation from the vast open grasslands they need, their populations are likely to be declining overall.

These creatures can travel considerable distances across open water and may be found in a variety of locales all around the globe.


  • Scientific name: Bubo scandiacus
  • Length: 20.5-27.9 inches
  • Weight: 56.4-104.1 oz
  • Wingspan: 49.6-57.1 inches

Most of Canada and the northern United States are home to snowy owls during the winter. Minnesota is one of the states that have enacted such a law. Depending on how many owls were born that summer and how far north the food supply is, population will fluctuate quite a bit from year to year.

During the summer, these lovely owls fly far north to Canada’s and Greenland’s Arctic regions to breed. Throughout the day, they’ll pursue lemmings, their favorite summer meal.

Because of their bright white plumage, snowy owls are easier to see than other owls if they are nearby. They are diurnal, unlike other owls, and thus active during the day. Fields, airports, and beaches are examples of wide-open spaces that they prefer for hunting. Look for them on the ground or in the open, especially when it’s snowy.

As they mature, snowy owls become wanderers and are seldom found within their native territory. Hundreds of miles apart, owls from the same nest were located in opposite directions after being tracked.

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