Many people like the mysterious owl. The fact that they are often invisible due to their camouflage and nightlife makes them even more fascinating. You might also wonder how many distinct types of owls there are in my neighborhood? The nine species of owls found in New Hampshire will be discussed in this article.
9 OWLS IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
The barn owl, barred owl, eastern screech owl, great gray owl, great-horned owl, long-eared Owl, northern saw-whet Owl and snowy Owl are the nine species of owls found in New Hampshire.
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
The barn owl’s range does not include New Hampshire. They can, however, be found in a variety of open environments such as grasslands, fields, ranches, agricultural land, and strips of forest in certain neighboring states on occasion.
Barn owls prefer to build their nests in barns, attics, and church steeples because they like the eaves and beams. One way they got their name was probably this. Tree holes, caverns, and cliff-side crevices are also used to nest. During the day, Barn Owls are extremely nocturnal and difficult to detect.
They fly low over fields at dusk and throughout the night, using their extraordinary hearing to locate mice and other rodents. If you catch a glimpse of them in low light, their enormous, ghostly white face and belly can be a pretty scary sight!
They fly low over fields at dusk and through the night, using their extraordinary hearing to detect mice and other rodents. When you see them in low light, their huge, ghostly white face and belly can be a little scary!
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 striped barred owl can be found throughout New Hampshire at all times of the year and is rather frequent. These birds prefer to stay within a 10-mile radius, if they leave at all.
They don’t like to be in the same area as the great horned owl, despite their ranges frequently overlapping. Barred owl eggs, young birds, and even adult horned owls will be sought after by Great Horned Owls.
In wooded areas near water, barred owls favor mixed and aged trees, particularly if there are broad stretches of uninterrupted forest. During the day, you may see them roosting in trees on a hiking trail. When hunting, however, they are most active at night.
Their strong 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 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 the southern part of New Hampshire, this little owl can be found year-round.
Gray, brown, or “red” (really a reddish brown) are the three plumage tones of eastern screech owls. The designs on their feathers make them blend in with tree bark no matter what color they are.
Their name may imply that they make a high-pitched or piercing noise, however this is not the case. They don’t hoot, instead producing whistling noises or “whinnies” that resemble a high-pitched horse.
Eastern screech owls may be attracted to your yard if you build an appropriately sized nest box. Farmland, city parks, and suburban communities are all home to these little owls. Almost anywhere with tree cover is a good bet.
4. GREAT GRAY OWL
- 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, year-round great gray owls may be found, however they are not common in the continental United States. While they are still uncommon in New Hampshire, they fall into the state’s potential winter range.
These huge owls feature yellow eyes and a white neck “bow tie,” which is made up of a strip of black feathers with a black center. Grays owls hunt voles, gophers, chipmunks, and other tiny mammals in meadows and clearings in the dense evergreen woods of the north. In the United States, it is known as Pine and fir woods in close proximity to montane meadows are appealing to them.
Great gray owls don’t construct their own nests. They’ll rebuild on top of a shattered tree, or use man-made platforms or clusters of mistletoe, in an abandoned raven or raptor nest. Their hearing is so acute that they may hunt prey down by sound, and their massive claws may penetrate solid packed snow to seize animals.
5. 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
Because of their huge bulk, yellow eyes, and “horns” of feather that stick out on either side of their head, great horned owls are one of the most common and well-recognized owls in North America. They stay in New Hampshire all year, and do not migrate. They, too, are ubiquitous across the state, much like the barred owl.
Forests, marshes, deserts, and urban environments like city parks are among the habitats where these owls may be found. They have a variety of colors in their plumage, but mostly cool or warm brown.
Mammalian, avian, reptile, insect, and fish are all part of the large horned owl’s diet. The sound owls make is often referred to as their hoot, which is what most people associate with the sound.
6. 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
While they may be observed throughout the winter in the southern section of New Hampshire, long-eared owls are migratory and may be seen throughout the breeding season. Pine stands or woodlands next to grassland and pastures are their preferred environment, but they are not particularly frequent.
Their wide eye color, white V-shaped face pattern, square face disc, and long feather tufts that point straight up may produce a look of surprise on them at all times. Great horned owls have a squarer face with a white V, which is a great way to distinguish them.
Because of their excellent camouflage and the fact that they roost in thick woods, finding them is difficult. On spring and summer evenings, listen for their long, low hoots. They may roost in groups during the winter.
7. 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 head and yellow eyes, northern saw-whet owls are small. These owls are exceptionally difficult to detect for a number of reasons, in addition to their tiny stature.
When they’re perched motionlessly on a branch, their mottled brown plumage blends in easily with the surrounding trees. Since they are only active at night, you won’t encounter these owls while it is daytime. They are also naturally secretive.
From January through May, when they call the most frequently, learning their call and listening for them at night is the best bet for finding a northern saw-whet owl. They’re known as “saw-whet” owls because of their unique cry, which resembles a blade being sharpened on a whetstone. A series of whistled notes of the same pitch make up their too-too-too call.
They prefer thick and mature woods and remain in New Hampshire throughout the year. Little animals like mice and voles make up the majority of their diet.
8. SHORT-EARED OWL
- Scientific name: Asio flammeus
- Length: 15 in
- Wingspan: 38 in
- Weight: 12 oz
Summer is almost entirely spent in Canada and northern United States by short-eared owls. They may survive all year in New Hampshire’s far northern reaches, but they are most often seen during the non-breeding season.
These birds have “ear tuft” feathers, although they are so short that they are virtually never seen. Marshes, gravel and rock quarries, fields, woodlots, and thickets are all places to look for them during the winter. In accordance with the population of their prey, such as moles, rats, rabbits, and weasels, their populations in a specific region may fluctuate from year to year.
They are particularly vulnerable to habitat destruction and fragmentation from the vast open grasslands they require, which is why their populations are believed to be declining overall.
They can travel great distances across open water and may be found in a variety of locales all around the world.
9. SNOWY OWL
- 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 across most of Canada, but each year they seem to be moving farther south into the United States. During the winter months in New Hampshire, at least a few may be seen. Year to year, the quantity may vary significantly.
During the summer, these magnificent owls fly north to Canada and Greenland’s Arctic regions to breed. Throughout the day, they’ll be hunting lemmings, their favorite summer snack.
Because of their bright white plumage, snowy owls are easier to see than other owls in the area. They are diurnal, as opposed to most other owls, and are thus awake during the day. They favor open fields and beaches for hunting.