9 Owls In Nebraska (With Photos)

Magical and mysterious creatures, owls seem to be. Because of their camouflage and nocturnal habits, we seldom see them, making them all the more interesting. It might also lead you to conclude, where I dwell, how many distinct types of owls there are. The nine species of owls that live in Nebraska will be examined in this article.


Barn owl, barred owl, burrowing owl, eastern screech owl, great-horned owl, long-eared owl, northern saw-whet Owl, short-eared Owl and the snowy Owl are the nine species of Owls you may see in Nebraska.


  • 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 frequently difficult to spot, barn owls may be found throughout Nebraska all year. Grasslands, fields, ranches, agricultural land, and strips of woodland are the preferred open habitats for most species.

Among other man-made constructions with a lot of eaves and beams, barn owls prefer to build their nests in barns, attics, and church steeples. Their moniker is most likely derived from this. They also choose to nest in tree cavities, caverns, and cliff sides. Barn Owls are particularly nocturnal throughout the day and difficult to locate.

They fly low over fields at dusk and through the night, using their exceptional hearing to detect mice and other rodents. If you see them in low light, their big, ghostly white face and belly can be a pretty scary sight!


  • 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’s range extends into eastern Nebraska, and since they are only observed near the eastern border, they are rather uncommon for most of the state.

Since there are extensive stretches of uninterrupted forest, barred owls favor mixed and aged trees near water. During the day, you may see them perched in trees during a hike. Yet, when hunting at night, they are most active.


  • Scientific name: Athene cunicularia
  • Length: 7.5-9.8 in
  • Wingspan: 21.6 in
  • Weight: 5.3 oz

During the breeding season, Nebraska’s Burrowing Owls may be found across the state, but they are more common in the west.

These little owls live in burrows and have long, thin legs. These burrows are dug by them on occasion, and they take over abandoned burrows left by prairie dogs and ground squirrels. They’ve been discovered to dig burrows using constructed items like pipes, buckets, and culverts.

Open environments such as deserts and grasslands will provide you with them. Since they are tiny in comparison to the vast open terrain they call home, and when they are in their burrows barely protrude above the horizon, they may be difficult to detect. At dawn and dusk, burrowing owls are most active.

Open environments such as deserts and grasslands are where you’ll find them. They are very tiny in comparison to the vast open countryside they call home, and when they are in their burrows barely peek above the horizon. During the day and at night, burrowing owls are most active.


  • 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 half of the United States, including Nebraska, is home to this little owl year-round.

Gray, brown, or “red” (really a reddish brown) are the three plumage colors of eastern screech owls. Feathers’ patterns render superb camouflage for blending in with tree bark, regardless of the color.

Their name may imply that they create a shrill or ear-piercing sound, but this is not the case. They don’t hoot, instead producing high-pitched whinnies that resemble trilling neighs.

You may encourage 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. Pretty much any place with some tree cover is ideal.


  • 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 enormous size, yellow eyes, and “horns” of feathers that stick out on either side of their head, great horned owls are one of the most widespread and identifiable owls in North America. Throughout Nebraska, you can find them all year.

Forests, swamps, deserts, and urban environments such as city parks are some of the habitats in which these owls may be found. Their plumage ranges from cool to warm brown, and it can change color throughout the year.

Mammalian, bird, reptile, insect, and fish are all part of the great horned owl’s diet. The sound owls make is often referred to as their hoot, which brings to mind what most people picture when they think of owls.


  • 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 throughout much of Nebraska, although they may remain year-round in the western region. Pine stands or woods alongside grassland and pastures are their preferred habitat.

They have a constantly surprised look due to their bright yellow eyes, white V-shaped facial pattern, round face disc, and long feather tufts that point straight up. Great horned owls can easily be distinguished from each other by their very rounded face with white V.

They are difficult to detect due to their excellent camouflage and hiding habits during roosting in thick woods. On spring and summer evenings, listen for their long, low hoots.


  • Scientific name: Aegolius acadicus
  • Length: 7.1-8.3 inches
  • Weight: 2.3-5.3 oz
  • Wingspan: 16.5-18.9 inches

Little saw-whet owls with a spherical head and yellow eyes are known as northern saw-whet owls. These owls are famously difficult to locate for a variety of reasons, in addition to their small size.

When they’re perched motionlessly on a branch, their mottled brown plumage blends in easily to the surrounding trees. Because these owls are only active at night, you won’t encounter them while it’s daylight out.

Learning the call of a northern saw-whet owl and paying attention at night, particularly between January and May, is the best way to locate one. They are known as the “saw-whet” owl because of their unique cry, which resembles a blade being sharpened on a whetstone. A series of whistled notes of the same pitch makes up their too-too-too call.

The diet of these owls mostly consists of tiny animals such as mice and voles, and they prefer thick and mature woods. In Nebraska, they spend the winter.


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

The summer is practically all spent in Canada and the northern United States by short-eared owls, although they may be found throughout the year in Nebraska.

They have “ear tuft” feathers, albeit they are so short that they are practically never visible. They have black around their eyes, much like other owls, but their yellow eyes stand out.

In response to the population of their prey, such as moles, rats, rabbits, and weasels, their populations in a particular region might fluctuate from year to year.

They are particularly vulnerable to habitat degradation and fragmentation from the vast open grasslands that they need being converted into farm land, grazing land, leisure areas, and housing construction. It is believed that their populations as a whole are declining.

They may be found all around the world, and they may cross huge distances across open water.


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

The winter range of snowy owls extends throughout most of Canada, although each year they seem to be traveling further south into the United States. During the winter months, at least one is sighted each year in Nebraska, particularly in the eastern part. Year to year, the amount may fluctuate significantly.

During the summer, these magnificent owls travel to Canada and Greenland’s northernmost areas to breed. Throughout the day, they’ll be looking for lemmings, their favorite summer snack.

Because of their bright white plumage, snowy owls are easier to see than other owls if they’re nearby. They are diurnal, like most other owls, and thus active during the day. They like hunting in vast, open areas, such as fields, airports, and beaches. Look for them on the ground, perched out in the open, or in a snow-covered area.

As adults, snowy owls become wanderers who seldom return to their breeding grounds. Hundreds of miles apart, owls from the same nest have been discovered in opposing directions, tracked by the same owl.

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