Owls hold a special place in the hearts of many people. Their camouflage and nocturnal habits make them all the more interesting since we seldom see them. It’s also possible that it will cause you to wonder how many distinct species of owls exist in my neighborhood? The 14 types of owls found in Oregon will be discussed in this article.
OWLS IN OREGON
In terms of the number of distinct species that you may see in the state, Oregon has one of the highest owl counts in the nation.
The barn owl, barred owl, burrowing owl, flammulated owl, great gray owl, great horned Owl, long-eared Owl, northern spotted Owl, northern hawk Owl, northern pygmy-owl and western screech Owl are the 14 species of owls that you may see in Oregon.
That’s a great list! Take a look at each of them.
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
Throughout most of the United States, including Oregon, barn owls may be found year-round. Grasslands, fields, ranches, agricultural land, and forest strips are the preferred environments for them.
Man-made buildings with a lot of eaves and beams, such as barns, attics, and church steeples, attract Barn Owls. It’s possible that this was how they got their moniker. Tree holes, caverns, and cliff-sides are also used to breed. During the day, Barn Owls are unusually quiet and difficult to detect.
They fly low over fields at dusk and through the night, using their exceptional hearing to detect 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!
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
In the western United States, barred owls can only be found in a few places, including Oregon. They are quite rare in the center and eastern sections of the state, so you’ll want to seek them out in the forests of the western section.
Although their habitat frequently overlaps with that of the great horned owl, they do not like being in the same place. Barred owl eggs, juvenile birds, and even adults are all targets for great horned owls.
Their loud, distinctive hooting cry has been characterized as “who cooks for you?” “Who prepares for you-all?” A mated pair will sing a variety of hoots, honks, caws, and gurgles throughout the course of their courtship.
3. BURROWING OWL
- Scientific name: Athene cunicularia
- Length: 7.5-9.8 in
- Wingspan: 21.6 in
- Weight: 5.3 oz
During the breeding season, Burrowing Owls may be found in Oregon, particularly in the state’s southeastern region.
These burrowing owls are tiny with long legs and live in subterranean tunnels. These burrows are sometimes dug by the animals themselves, and other times they take over abandoned burrows left by prairie dogs or ground squirrels. Man-made aids, such as pipes, buckets, and culverts have also been discovered to be used for burrows.
Open environments such as deserts and grasslands are good places to find them. Because they are small in comparison to the open expanse of land on which they live, and when they are in their burrows barely protrude above the horizon, they can be difficult to locate. Dawn and dusk are the busiest times for burrowing owls.
4. FLAMMULATED OWL
- Scientific name: Psiloscops flammeolus
- Length: 5.9-6.7 in
- Weight: 1.5-2.2 oz
During the breeding season in Oregon, you may see the flammulated owl. Because they spend most of their time at the top of large evergreen trees, these owls are quite difficult to spot. Sound is likely to be the simplest method of identifying them. They make a constant, low-pitched bark.
Flying insects like crickets, moths, and beetles are the primary food of these bats, which they hunt at night. They’re well-camouflaged, have reddish gray feathers, and have shorter ear-tufts than screech-owls.
5. 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
In Alaska and Canada, great gray owls may be found all year, but they are scarce in the continental United States. While you might see one in Oregon on rare occasions, the state’s population of them, particularly in the northeast and southwest, is year-round.
These huge owls feature yellow eyes, a “bow tie” around the neck, and a strip of white feathers with black in the center. In meadows and clearings, great gray owls hunt voles, gophers, chipmunks, and other tiny creatures in thick evergreen woods in the north. In the United States, it’s known as Forests of pine and fir, near to montane meadows, are delicious to them.
Gray owls do not construct their own nests, unlike other owls. They might reuse a damaged tree limb, mistletoe clumps, or even human-made platforms or nests for an old raven or raptor. Their hearing is so acute that they may hunt prey by sound and their enormous claws may penetrate hard packed snow to seize prey beneath.
6. 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 wide bulk, 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 well-known owls in North America. They can be found all year in Oregon, no matter the season.
Forests, marshes, deserts, and even metropolitan parks are among the places where these owls may be found. Most have a cool or warm brown plumage, which may change color.
Mammalian, avian, reptile, insect, and fish are all part of the great horned owl’s diet. Their hoot is a sound that most people associate with owls, and it is frequently heard in TV and films.
7. 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
Long-eared owls may be seen in Oregon throughout the year, with a peak of sightings in the non-breeding season in the west region. Pine stands or woodlands near grassland and pastures are their preferred habitat.
They have a constantly 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 look quite different thanks to their rounded face and white V.
Because of their camouflage and tendency to roost in thick forests, it’s difficult to spot them. In the spring and summer evenings, listen for their long, low hoots.
8. NORTHERN SPOTTED OWL
- Scientific name: Strix occidentalis caurina
- Length: 16-19 in
- Weight: 19.5-23 oz
- Wingspan:42-45 in
One of the biggest owls in North America, the northern spotted owl is one of three subspecies of spotted owls. Mature conifer forests with vast, uninterrupted canopies are required for this subspecies. Western Oregon is where they’re most common. Their overall coloration is dark brown rather than gray, despite their similarities to the barred owl.
Small to medium-sized creatures, as well as insects and tiny birds, are eaten by spotted owls. Extra food is frequently cached in tree limbs or beneath logs.
Due to habitat destruction, the spotted owl population, including this subspecies, has decreased significantly, with just 15,000 owls left in the wild. The barred owl, which is bigger, more aggressive, and well-known for driving them away when they overlap the same territory is another element that contributes to their dwindling population.
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 northern hawk owls are most common in Canada and Alaska, although their winter range may extend as far as northern Oregon, depending on the season. In the state, they would be considered uncommon.
These owls are usually found in the United States, so it’s not uncommon for them to visit. When the population is up and their prey animals are down, it is usually following a good breeding season. As a result, certain owls may need to travel much farther than usual for food. Birdwatchers will be happy about this!
They have huge, spherical heads with yellow eyes and white faces, similar to many owls. They do, however, hunt around dawn and dusk, perched atop trees before swooping after prey. Like hawks, they are daytime hunters. Their eyesight is excellent, and they can see prey from up to a half-mile away, similar to hawks.
Lakeshores, meadows, and forested agricultural fields are among the things they seek when they get to the United States.
10. NORTHERN PYGMY-OWL
- Scientific name: Glaucidium gnoma
- Length: 6.4-7.1 in
- Weight: 2.1-2.5 oz
- Wingspan: 14.5–16 in
The mountainous western United States and Oregon are home to the northern pygmy-owl, which is common. They’re active during the day, so seeing them isn’t as difficult as with most other nocturnal owls, but they’re still fairly tiny and often perch stationary waiting for food. You’ll need to keep your eyes peeled.
To help you locate them, try to get used to their high-pitched toots and calls. Groups of songbirds fluttering around should also be noticed. They’ll often swarm a Northern Pygmy-Owl and attempt to scare it away if they find one. Since it regularly eats little song birds, they don’t want this owl around.
The heads of northern pygmy-owls are quite spherical and lack ear tufts. Their head and back are brown with white speckles, while their belly has vertical brown stripes.
11. 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
Little saw-whet owls with a spherical head and yellow eyes are found in the north. There are a few additional reasons why these owls are notoriously difficult to locate, in addition to their small size.
When they’re perched motionlessly on a branch, their mottled brown plumage blends in perfectly with the trees around them. Because they are only active at night, you won’t encounter these owls while it is light out. They are also naturally quiet.
Learning the call and listening for it at night, particularly between January and May, is the best bet for finding a northern saw-whet owl. They are known as “saw-whet” owls because of their particular call, which resembles a blade being sharpened on a whetstone. A succession of whistled notes of the same pitch make up their too-too-too call.
The diet of these owls mainly consists of tiny mammals like mice and voles, and they prefer thick, mature woods. They may be found all year in most of Oregon.
12. SHORT-EARED OWL
- Scientific name: Asio flammeus
- Length: 15 in
- Wingspan: 38 in
- Weight: 12 oz
You can find short-eared owls year-round in Oregon, but they spend the summer almost exclusively in Canada and northern United States.
They do have ear tuft feathers, although they are so short that they are almost never visible. Like many owls, they have yellow eyes, but the black around them really makes the yellow stand out.
In close correspondence to the population of their prey, such as moles, rats, rabbits, and weasels, their populations in a specific region might fluctuate year to year.
Because they are particularly vulnerable to habitat destruction and fragmentation from the huge open grasslands they need, their populations are assumed to be declining overall.
They may be found all around the world and may cross vast oceans in search of food.
13. SNOWY OWL
- Scientific name: Bubo scandiacus
- Length: 20.5-27.9 inches
- Weight: 56.4-104.1 oz
- Wingspan: 49.6-57.1 inches
Throughout most of Canada and the far northern United States, snowy owls have a wintering range. Oregon is one of the states that has this law. Depending on how many owls were born that summer, as well as the amount of food farther north, population will fluctuate considerably from year to year. The state’s north and northwest regions are home to more sightings.
During the summer, these lovely owls fly north to Canada and Greenland’s arctic areas to breed. Throughout the day, they’ll be after their favorite summer meal, lemmings.
Because of their bright white plumage, snowy owls are easier to spot than other owls if they are near you. They are diurnal, like most other owls, and are thus active during the day. Fields, airports, and beaches are their preferred hunting locations because they provide plenty of space. Look for them on the snow, perched out in the open or buried.
14. WESTERN SCREECH OWL
- Scientific name: Megascops kennicottii
- Length: 7.5 – 9.8 in
- Wingspan: 21.6 – 24.4 in
- Weight: 3.5 – 10.8 oz
All along the western North American coast and in many western states, Western Screech-Owls may be found. Throughout the year, they can be found all throughout Oregon.
The eastern and western variants look identical from a visual standpoint. Different hoots are thought to be used by them. The western screech owl has a succession of quick hoots, whereas the eastern variety has a descending whinny. Their ranges don’t overlap much.
In both rural and urban environments, they nest in tree holes. Their perfectly disguised feathers make them extremely difficult to detect when they’re hiding inside tree cavities. They have stocky bodies and short tails, and they are tiny robin-sized owls. When they’re perched in holes throughout the day, their mostly gray-brown plumage plus streaked undersides help them blend in well against trees.