A diverse collection of birds of prey, including owls, may be seen in New York City. This range of owls can be found in a number of different environments throughout the state, which we’re focusing on in this article.
In the state of New York, there are ten different species of owls. We provide you with a snapshot, intriguing facts, and a few details about when you may see one in NY below.
Let’s take a look at the New York owl population!
1. BARN OWL
Scientific name: Tyto alba
Length: 12.6-15.8 in
Weight: 14.1-24.7 oz
Wingspan: 39.4-49.2 in
With a heart-shaped white face and black eyes, barn owls have a very distinct appearance. Their name comes from their fondness for roosting and nesting in barns and silos, as well as thick trees and tight spaces.
They fly low over open fields, grasslands, and marshes after dark, listening for prey scurrying below. In reality, they are considered to be the most gifted at hunting prey by sound alone! Owlet boxes constructed to the proper dimension will be used for breeding. In New York, they may be found all year, although they are seldom seen.
2. EASTERN SCREECH OWL
Scientific name: Megascops asio
Length: 6.3-9.8 in
Weight: 4.3-8.6 oz
Wingspan: 18.9-24.0 in
One of the tiniest screech owls on our list is the tiny one. New York’s year-round residents include Eastern Screech owls. They have plumage that looks a lot like the texture and patterns of bark, and they practically vanish into tree corners and niches when sitting.
Little birds, mice, rats, moles, squirrels, flies and frogs are among the foods they consume. They’ll definitely utilize your bird bath, and maybe yours as well.
3. GREAT HORNED OWL
Scientific name: Bubo virginianus
Length: 18.1-24.8 in
Weight: 32.1-88.2 oz
Wingspan: 39.8-57.1 in
The feather tufts that protrude from the skull of the big great horned owl are one of the easiest identifying features. They also make the classic “hooting” sound, which is commonly heard on television to depict idyllic evenings in the forest.
Great Horned owls may pursue almost any prey, from rats and frogs to falcons and other birds, thanks to their size and ferocity. Their claws may rupture their victim’s spine with a force of 28 pounds. These owls will utilize a backyard owl box year-round in New York.
4. SNOWY OWL
Snowy owls may be seen hunting lemmings at any time of day during the 24-hour daylight of summers at the arctic circle. When the lovely Snowy owl comes south into the United States, New York is fortunate to be in its winter range. Bright yellow eyes and a pure white coat with light brown streaks.
Large open, treeless stretches such as the shore line, sand dunes, and open fields are ideal places to look for Snowy owls. They may sit motionless for hours observing the terrain for signs and noises of prey, often sitting directly on the ground. The northern and eastern boarders of New York are most likely to be found here.
5. BARRED OWL
Scientific name: Strix varia
Length: 16.9-19.7 in
Weight: 16.6-37.0 oz
Wingspan: 39.0-43.3 in
In New York, the huge Barred owl can be seen all year. They don’t migrate, and they don’t stray far once they’ve established a territory. They feature a white breast with lengthy brown streaks and a brown and white speckled back with a spherical head.
Their distinctively booming hooting cry, which travels through the woods and is often described as “who cooks for you,” will almost certainly alert you to their presence. “Who prepares your meals?” Mated pairs may engage in caterwauling during courtship, which is a chorus of strange noises such as cackles, hoots, caws, and gurgles.
6. LONG-EARED OWL
Scientific name: Asio otus
Length: 13.8-15.8 in
Weight: 7.8-15.3 oz
Wingspan: 35.4-39.4 in
This owls face is frequently given an impression of continuous astonishment by its long ear tufts that stick straight up from its head. They have an orange facial disk and pale colored V-shaped feathers across the middle of their face, which is dark and buffy brown. Their nests are said to be reused nests built by other birds, such as crows, ravens, hawks, and magpies. They are believed to do not build their own nests.
Breeding populations may be found all year round in New York, however only during winter at the far southern tip of the state may they be seen.
7. SHORT-EARED OWL
Scientific name: Asio flammeus
Length: 13.4-16.9 in
Weight: 7.3-16.8 oz
Wingspan: 33.5-40.5 in
During the winter in New York, short-eared owls may be seen. Like the long-eared owl, their short ear tufts are usually hidden. Their white ring around their round face, as well as their yellow eyes with black patches, are the most distinguishing features.
They may be found all over the globe, including in Hawaii, and may fly relatively long distances. Look for them near the perimeters of open fields, meadows, or airports at daybreak or dusk.
8. NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL
Scientific name: Aegolius acadicus
Length: 7.1-8.3 in
Weight: 2.3-5.3 oz
Wingspan: 16.5-18.9 in
These owls are quite frequent throughout North America, although they are seldom seen during the day due to their rarity. These tiny owls roost in thick conifers throughout the day, keeping themselves hidden. Mice, particularly deer mice, are their primary food source. Since they are so difficult to locate, investigating their migration has proved challenging. Nonetheless, scientists now know that they may fly across water, such as the Great Lakes. New York’s year-round residents include northern Saw-Whet owls.
9. NORTHERN HAWK OWL
Scientific name: Surnia ulula
Length: 14.2 – 17.7 in
Weight: 8.5 – 16.0 oz
Wingspan: 27.9 in
The medium-sized owl’s body is oval, with horizontal streaks on its breast and a long tapering tail. It likes to sit on solitary tree tops and search for prey during the day. Boreal woods in Canada are preferred by these owls, although they may range as far north as the northern United States during the winter.
This is often triggered by a drop in Canada’s animal population forcing them to travel south in search of food. While New York has a population of Northern Hawk owls, they are uncommon.
10. 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
Although tall owls, Great Gray Owls have thick and fluffy feathers that make them seem substantially bigger. Snowy owls and Great Horned owls, on the other hand, weigh less. In the winter, they need to eat six to seven tiny animals each day. The prey beneath the hard packed snow can be grabbed by Great Gray owls, who are quite strong. Even snow that would support a person’s weight!
Their ears are excellent at pinpointing the slightest noises created by prospective prey, and their enormous disc-shaped face funnels sound to them. They are able to determine where they will grab their meal in the snow because of this. In New York state, Great Gray Owls are only a uncommon sight.