Home » 13 Types of Owls in Ohio with Pictures and Identification

13 Types of Owls in Ohio with Pictures and Identification

There are at least 13 species of owls found in Ohio. The barred owl is the most prevalent owl species in Ohio. Although they are found all over the state, these owls are more prevalent in the east and south. They are also widespread in West Virginia and Kentucky, two nearby states. As nocturnal hunters, banded owls usually take down small mammals like mice, squirrels, and rabbits.

Please take a moment to read the article below to find out more about other owl species found in Ohio.

Different Types of Owls in Ohio

Short-eared Owl

Owls in Ohio

The Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) is a versatile avian species, measuring between 13.4 to 16.9 inches (34-43 cm) in length and weighing 7.3 to 16.8 ounces (206-475 g). With a wingspan ranging from 33.5 to 40.5 inches (85-103 cm), it commands the skies with grace. Despite its modest size, it accounts for 0.3181% of owl sightings.

Sightings are common in Ohio, especially in the Appalachian Mountains, along Lake Erie, and in the Scioto River Valley. This versatile owl prefers forested parks and woodlands where it can hunt small rodents and birds, with larger prey being its infrequent objective. It thrives in open spaces.

Short-eared Owls are opportunistic hunters who use low-light or nocturnal hunting strategies. They nest in tree cavities and usually lay one to eleven batches of eggs.

Snowy Owl

Owls in Ohio

The Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) commands attention with its majestic presence, boasting a length ranging from 20.5 to 27.9 inches (52-71 cm) and weighing between 56.4 to 104.1 ounces (1600-2950 g). Its wingspan spans from 49.6 to 57.1 inches (126-145 cm), an impressive sight in flight.

While they make up only 0.2729% of all owl sightings, they may be found all over North America. Two excellent locations in Ohio for owl viewing are Hocking Hills National Park and Lewis Field at Oberlin College. These amazing birds are adaptable in their choice of environment, living in forests and tundra alike. Little mammals like rabbits and hares are the main prey for snowy owls, though they also occasionally eat birds and other creatures.

These birds build their nests in trees, on high ground, or even on rocky outcroppings and cliffsides. The females spend about 28 days carefully incubating batches of three to eleven eggs.

Northern Saw-whet Owl

Owls in Ohio

The Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus) may be diminutive in size, measuring between 7.1 to 8.3 inches (18-21 cm) in length and weighing a mere 2.3 to 5.3 ounces (65-151 g), but its presence is noteworthy. With a wingspan spanning from 16.5 to 18.9 inches (42-48 cm), it navigates the skies with agility.

Accounting for 0.1454% of owl sightings, they can be found across Ohio, notably in the Appalachian Mountains and the Great Lakes region, often near water bodies like lakes and rivers. This elusive species primarily inhabits boreal forests, feeding on small vertebrates and insects.

Nesting in tree cavities or on cliffs, its existence faces challenges from human encroachment and climate change, though it’s currently not considered threatened by the IUCN.

Barred Owl

Owls in Ohio

Standing 16.9 to 19.7 inches (43-50 cm) in length and 16.6 to 37.0 ounces (470–1050 g) in weight, the Barred Owl (Strix varia) is a fearsome bird. Its wingspan ranges from 99 to 110 cm (39.0 to 43.3 inches).

According to eBird, this species visits the landscape at a rate of 1.54%. In Ohio, they are frequently observed, especially in the Amish country around Lancaster and Holmes counties, in the Muskingum County area around Millersburg, and at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center along Lake Erie.

The common eastern and central American barred owl preys on small mammals, birds, and carrion in open woodlands and urban environments. In lofty areas or tree cavities, the females build their nests and deposit clutches of two to five eggs, which they then incubate for over a month.

Great Horned Owl

Owls in Ohio

The Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus), with its imposing posture and length of 17.7 to 24.8 inches (45-63 cm) and weight of 32.1 to 88.2 ounces (910-2500 g), is sure to draw attention. Its wingspan ranges from 39.8 to 57.1 inches (101-145 cm), making it an imposing presence. With a broad head and unique facial features, it is the biggest owl in North America and the sixth largest in the world.

This magnificent animal frequents a number of environments in the United States, most notably Ohio, where reports of sightings are common, especially in areas like Cleveland and Akron. They are versatile hunters who target small animals, birds, and reptiles. They excel at nighttime hunting but also take advantage of daytime openings. Their status as fierce nighttime predators is cemented by the fact that their nests are perched high in trees or on cliff walls, frequently close to water supplies.

Eastern Screech Owl

Owls in Ohio

The Eastern Screech Owl (Megascops asio) is a petite marvel, measuring between 6.3 to 9.8 inches (16-25 cm) in length and weighing a mere 4.3 to 8.6 ounces (121-244 g). With a wingspan spanning from 18.9 to 24.0 inches (48-61 cm), it’s a diminutive yet formidable hunter. Despite its small size, this owl commands attention, accounting for 1.16% of owl sightings.

Brecksville Reservation, Rocky River State Forest, and Cuyahoga Valley National Park are some of the best places in Ohio to see them. This species, which is good at hiding while foraging for big insects, birds, and small mammals, lives well in eastern forests and southern Ontario.

Eastern Screech Owls begin mating in late winter or early spring, producing two to six young year. They craftily build their nests in tree cavities or on the ground among low shrubs in order to avoid being eaten by predators.

Long-eared Owl

Owls in Ohio

The Long-eared Owl (Asio otus) boasts a slender physique, measuring between 13.8 to 15.8 inches (35-40 cm) in length and weighing from 7.8 to 15.3 ounces (220-435 g). Its wingspan spans from 35.4 to 39.4 inches (90-100 cm), allowing graceful flight through Ohio’s skies.

While reports of this species account for only 0.1096% of all owl encounters, the Appalachian Mountains, the Northwest, and Beaver Island are good places to observe them. It thrives in broad spaces with scattered trees and bushes, and it can be found throughout North America, Europe, and Asia in temperate and boreal woods.

It is a nocturnal hunter that mostly targets mice-sized prey, but it also consumes small animals, birds, and insects. March through May is breeding season. Females deposit clutches of three to five eggs, which the male carefully incubates for 28 days. After hatching, the fledglings take about 50 days to mature and become capable of navigating the world on their own.

Barn Owl

Owls in Ohio

Barn Owls, characterized by their distinctive heart-shaped facial discs, are a sight to behold with a length spanning from 12.6 to 15.8 inches (32-40 cm) and weighing between 14.1 to 24.7 ounces (400-700 g). With a wingspan of 39.4 to 49.2 inches (100-125 cm), they glide gracefully through Ohio’s landscapes

Although they account for only 0.0566% of all owl sightings, Athens, Pike, and Ross Counties are the best places to find them. These nighttime hunters stalk farms, suburbs, and woodlands, mainly consuming small mammals such as rats and mice, however they do occasionally venture into bigger areas in search of food.

These amazing animals make their nests in caves, burrows, or tree hollows, where females spend approximately 28–34 days incubating clutches of two to eighteen eggs before the offspring take to the air.

Northern Hawk Owl

Owls in Ohio

The Northern Hawk Owl (Surnia ulula) stands out with its medium size, measuring between 14.2 to 17.7 inches (36-45 cm) in length and weighing from 8.5 to 16.0 ounces (240-454 g). With a wingspan of 27.9 inches (71 cm), it navigates Ohio’s landscapes with ease.

While sightings are rare, excellent spots for observation include Raptor Ridge Wildlife Preserve in Greenville and Lake Erie Nature Preserve. Thriving in boreal forests, its range extends from Alaska to Newfoundland, Manitoba to the Yukon Territory. Adaptable to various habitats, it predominantly preys on small rodents, birds, and insects, occasionally scavenging carrion.

Nesting in tree cavities or on cliffs, the Northern Hawk Owl faces threats from habitat fragmentation, climate change, and hunting, though it’s not currently endangered.

Boreal Owl

Owls in Ohio

Even though the Boreal Owl (Aegolius funereus) is only small—its length ranges from 8.3 to 11.0 inches (21-28 cm) and its weight ranges from 3.3 to 7.6 ounces (93-215 g)—its existence is noteworthy. Its wingspan is between 21.6 and 24.4 inches (55 and 62 cm), and it flies across Ohio’s terrain with grace.

The coasts of Lake Erie and the Appalachian Mountains are prime locations for sightings. Its distribution stretches from middle Alaska to Labrador and south to New England, where it thrives in boreal forests. It travels into residential areas and close to bodies of water, but it prefers open spaces with lots of trees and shrubs for nesting.

It is an expert hunter, mostly focusing on small mammals such as mice and voles, but it also occasionally takes aim at birds. Boreal Owls nest in tree cavities or on elevated perches, and they exhibit nesting habits including building fresh nests every year.

Great Gray Owl

Owls in Ohio

The Great Gray Owl (Strix nebulosa) commands attention with its impressive stature, measuring between 24.0 to 33.0 inches (61-84 cm) in length and weighing from 24.7 to 60.0 ounces (700-1700 g). With a wingspan spanning from 53.9 to 60.2 inches (137-153 cm), it dominates the skies.

Sightings are rare, although they sometimes happen, especially at night, in and around major cities like Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton, and Akron. Their range includes much of Canada and the United States, making them the largest owl in North America.

They are primarily carnivorous, feeding on rodents, rabbits, voles, and other small mammals as well as birds and reptiles. The females spend 34–37 days incubating clutches of two to four eggs while they nest in tree cavities or man-made nests. After around 12 weeks, young owls fledge, and by 18 months, they are completely independent.

Burrowing Owl

Owls in Ohio

Despite its small size—7.5 to 9.8 inches (19–25 cm) in length and 5.3 ounces (150 g) in weight—the Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia) is a compelling sight. Its wingspan is 21.6 inches (55 cm), which it uses to glide smoothly over the terrain of Ohio.

Brecksville-Broadview Heights and Cuyahoga Valley National Park are popular spots for sightings. Its habitat, which is located in eastern North America, stretches from southern Canada to the Gulf of Mexico and westward to the Rocky Mountains.

Its food consists mostly of huge insects and rodents, with the rare meal of birds and other mammals. It thrives in wide grasslands, forests, and even urban settings. Burrowing owls cleverly dig underground burrows that are excavated by badgers, ground squirrels, and prairie dogs.

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