Many people like the mysterious owl. Because of their camouflage and nocturnal habits, the majority of us never see them, making them all the more intriguing. It may also cause you to wonder how many different species of owls are found in the area where I live? The nine different species of owls found in Vermont will be discussed in this essay.
9 OWLS IN VERMONT
The barn owl, barred owl, eastern screech owl, great gray owl, great-horned Owl, northern saw-whet Owl, short-eared Owl, and snowy Owl are the nine species of owls found in Vermont.
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
While they aren’t particularly common and prefer to be seen in the western part of the state, barn owls may be found all year long in Vermont. Grasslands, fields, ranches, agricultural land, and strips of forest are some of the environments where they may be found.
Man-made constructions with a lot of eaves and beams, such as barns, attics, and church steeples, are favored nesting places for barn owls. This is how they got their moniker, most likely. Tree cavities, caves, and cliff-sides are also used as nest sites. During the day, Barn Owls are seldom seen, as they are quite nocturnal.
They fly low over fields at dusk and at night, using their exceptional hearing to locate mice and other rodents. If you catch a glimpse of them in low light, their huge, 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
Vermont is home to the gorgeous brown and white striped barred owl, which is quite common all year. These birds prefer to stay within a 10-mile radius, even if they are not even leaving the neighborhood.
These birds do not like to be in the same location as the great horned owl, despite their similar ranges. Barred owl eggs, juvenile birds, and occasionally even adults will be sought by great horned owls.
Barred owls favor trees near water, particularly when there are enormous stretches of uninterrupted forest. During the day, you might see them roosting in trees on a hike. Yet, when hunting at night, they are most active.
Their loud, distinctive hooting cry is likened to “who cooks for you?” “Who cooks for you all?” A mated pair will sing a variety of hoots, honks, caws, and gurgles throughout their courting.
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 United States, including Vermont, this tiny owl can be found year-round.
Gray, brown, or “red” (really a reddish brown) are the three coloration varieties of eastern screech owls. The patterns on their feathers, regardless of color, allow them to blend in with tree bark and provide excellent camouflage.
Their name may imply that they produce a high-pitched wail, but this is not the case. They create shrilling noises or “whinnies” that sound like a high-pitched horse, rather than hooting.
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, great gray owls may be found year-round, although they are scarce in the continental United States. Although they are still uncommon in the state, Vermont enters their possible winter range.
A “bow tie” at the neck, a strip of white feathers with black in the middle, distinguishes these big owls with round heads and yellow eyes. In thick evergreen forests to the north, great gray owls hunt voles, gophers, chipmunks, and other small animals in meadows and clearings. In the United States, this is referred to as “suicide”. They prefer forests with pines and firs near montane meadows.
The great gray owls don’t construct their own nests. They might use human-made platforms or clumps of mistletoe, as well as an abandoned raven or raptor nest, the top of a shattered tree. Their acute hearing and crushing talons allow them to capture prey beneath compacted snow by hunting solely by sound.
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
Due to their huge size, yellow eyes, and “horns” or tufts of feathers that stick out on either side of their head, great horned owls are one of the most common and well-known owls in North America. They don’t move around much and spend the whole year in Vermont. They are abundant across the state, much as the barred owl.
Forests, bogs, deserts, and city parks are among the habitats where these owls may be found. The color of their plumage varies, but it is usually a cool or warm brown.
Mammalian, avian, reptile, insect, and fish are among the foods eaten by great horned owls. The sound owls produce is commonly referred to as their hoot, and it is frequently utilized in TV and films.
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 seen throughout the winter in the southern tip of the state, long-eared owls are migratory and can be found throughout Vermont mostly during their breeding season. They prefer pine woodlands or meadows near grassland and pastures, although they are not particularly frequent.
They have a constantly surprised expression because of their brilliant yellow eyes, white V-shaped facial pattern, round face disc, and long feather tufts that point straight up. Great horned owls can be distinguished from each other by their extremely rounded faces with white V.
Because of their excellent camouflage and tendency to roost in dense woodlands, they are difficult to locate. On spring and summer evenings, listen for their long, low hoots.
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
Tiny with a spherical head and yellow eyes, northern saw-whet owls are tiny. These owls are notoriously difficult to locate for a number of reasons, in addition to their tiny size.
When they’re perched motionlessly on a branch, their mottled brown plumage blends in easily with the surrounding trees. Because they are only active at night, you won’t encounter these owls while it’s daylight outside.
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 get their name from the unique cry, which resembles a knife being sharpened on a whetstone. A series of whistled notes of the same pitch makes up their too-too-too call.
They prefer thick and mature forests and stay in Vermont all year. Small mammals, such as 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
The majority of the summer is spent in Canada and northern United States by short-eared owls. They may survive all year in the northern section of Vermont, but just during the non-breeding season in the southern half of Vermont.
They do have ear tuft feathers, however they are so short that they are virtually never seen. Marsh, gravel, and rock quarries, fields, woodlots and thickets are all places to look for them during the winter. In close connection to the population of their prey, such as moles, rats, rabbits, and weasels, their populations in a specific region might change from year to year.
They are particularly vulnerable to habitat destruction and fragmentation from the huge open grasslands that they need, so it is believed that their populations are declining overall.
They may be found all around the globe and may cover great distances across open water.
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
Snowy owls are found throughout most of Canada during the winter, but each year they migrate farther south into the United States. At least a few may be seen in Vermont throughout the winter months. Year to year, the quantity may vary substantially.
During the summer, these gorgeous owls go to Canada and Greenland’s arctic areas to breed. All hours of the day, they will pursue their favorite summer snack: lemmings.
Snowy owls are famous for their nomadic nature and tendency to migrate once they reach adulthood. Hundreds of miles away from each other, owls from the same nest were discovered in opposing directions.
Once they reach maturity, snowy owls become wanderers and prefer to stay away from their breeding grounds. Hundreds of miles apart, owls from the same nest that were followed have been discovered in opposing directions.