How To Spot The 7 Owls Of Florida (Plus 4 Rare Sightings)

How To Spot The 7 Owls Of Florida (Plus 4 Rare Sightings)

Florida’s night skies are home to a spectacular and often overlooked world – the mystical realm of Florida owls.

These enigmatic birds of prey are not just fascinating subjects for ornithology enthusiasts but are integral to the state’s ecosystem, controlling rodent populations and adding to the biodiversity that makes Florida unique.

With a variety of species ranging from the diminutive burrowing owl to the majestic great horned owl, the world of Florida owls is rich and diverse, offering endless intrigue and mystery for bird watchers and nature lovers alike.

As we embark on this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the distinctive features, habitats, and sounds that make each Florida owl species unique. From the haunting calls of the barn owl in the dead of night to the distinctive barred patterns of the barred owl, we’ll cover the nuances that might help you identify these nocturnal hunters in their natural setting.

Whether you’re a seasoned ornithologist or a curious newcomer to bird watching, this guide will provide you with a roadmap to the fascinating world of Florida owls, enriching your understanding and appreciation of these remarkable birds.

This list is based on the official Florida state bird list, provided by the Florida Ornithological Society. In total, there are 8 owl species that either reside in Florida or spend part of their non-breeding season there. Additionally, 4 owl species have been sighted in the state on rare occasions.

A Guide To Spotting Owls

If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of these elusive creatures, there are a few key factors that can increase your chances.

First and foremost, most owl species are nocturnal, meaning they are primarily active at night. However, some species may also be active during dawn and dusk, making those times ideal for owl spotting as well.

Another important factor is habitat. Different owl species have different preferred habitats, ranging from dense forests to open fields and even urban areas. Understanding the habitat requirements of each species can help you narrow down your search and increase your chances of spotting them.

Additionally, knowing the distinctive calls of each owl species can also aid in identification and locating them in the wild. Some owls have distinct vocalizations that can be heard from a distance, while others may be more subtle or only vocalize during certain times of the year.

In general, owls have the following physical characteristics that distinguish them from other birds:

  • Large, forward-facing eyes that provide stereoscopic vision, essential for depth perception in low light.
  • Unlike most birds of prey with eyes on the sides of their heads, owls’ eyes are fixed in their sockets, requiring them to rotate their entire heads to change focus. This head rotation can reach up to 270° due to their specialized neck vertebrae and circulatory system adaptations.
  • Another distinguishing feature is their facial disc, a circle of feathers around each eye that helps funnel sound to their asymmetrically placed ear holes, enhancing their hearing.
  • Owls’ plumage is generally cryptic, blending into their surroundings, but some species have distinctive facial and head markings, such as ear tufts and brightly colored irises, which are more common in open habitats.

Ethical Owl Spotting

While it can be exciting to spot an owl in the wild, it’s important to remember that these are wild animals and should be treated with respect.

Here’s a concise checklist to keep in mind while owl spotting:

Maintain Distance

When observing owls, it’s crucial to keep your distance. Use binoculars or a telephoto lens to get a good view without getting too close. Avoid getting so near that the owl shows any signs of distress.

Stay Quiet

Keep noise to a minimum to avoid disturbing the owl. If you need to communicate, whisper to keep from startling them.

Avoid Flash Photography

Flash photography can startle and harm owls, especially at night. Instead, use natural light or infrared lighting for night photography to capture those moments without causing harm.

Respect Habitats

Always respect the habitats of these magnificent birds. Do not enter nesting or roosting areas and be careful not to trample vegetation or cause habitat destruction while you’re there.

Do Not Feed Owls

Feeding owls can disrupt their natural hunting behaviors and cause dependency. Moreover, it can be harmful to their health. Let them find their food naturally.

Share Locations Discreetly

If you happen to find an owl’s location, share it discreetly. Avoid publicizing specific locations to prevent overcrowding and disturbance.

Use a Blind or Natural Cover

To observe without startling the owl, conceal yourself using natural surroundings or a photography blind. This will help you enjoy your viewing experience while keeping the owl safe and stress-free.

Now, let’s start with the 8 common owl species found in Florida.

1. Barred Owl

Barred Owl

The Barred Owl, a remarkable resident of Florida’s woodlands and swamps, thrives across the eastern half of the United States. This bird, related to the Spotted Owl and the Great Horned Owl, is known for its distinctive “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you-all?” call, echoing through the forests.

  • Wingspan: Ranges from 40–50 inches for both males and females.
  • Weight: Males approximately 22 oz., females about 28 oz. 
  • Body Length: Typically between 17–24 inches.
  • Species Name: Strix varia.
  • Distribution Status In Florida: Resident.
  • Location: Fairly common throughout the mainland of Florida but absent from the Florida Keys.

Identifying Characteristics

The Barred Owl is distinguished by its striking pattern of brown and white stripes that adorn its head, chest, and back, seamlessly blending into its woodland surroundings.

Its most captivating features include large, dark brown eyes that can appear almost black, contributing to its intense gaze.

The owl’s face is accentuated by a pale gray facial disc, which is sharply outlined with dark brown, adding to its camouflaged visage.

Unlike some other owl species, the Barred Owl lacks ear tufts, offering a smooth head profile that sets it apart.

Where To Find This Bird

In terms of habitat, Barred Owls make their homes in dense forests rich with large trees. These environments range from swamps and oak savannas to marshes, with a common preference for areas that feature an open understory, enhancing their hunting capabilities.

While these owls are primarily nocturnal creatures, engaging in most of their activities under the cover of darkness, it’s not uncommon to spot them during daylight hours on occasion.

They are considered resident birds, especially in regions like Florida, where they can be observed throughout the entire year, providing ample opportunities for bird watchers and nature enthusiasts to catch a glimpse of these magnificent birds.

What They Sound Like

The haunting call of the Barred Owl, “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you-all?” is a familiar sound in their habitat. This call, along with their silent flight, makes them both eerie and elusive to spot.

2. Eastern Screech-owl

Eastern Screech-owl

The Eastern Screech-Owl, Megascops asio, is a small yet incredibly adaptable bird of prey found throughout Florida.

It thrives in a variety of habitats from dense swamps to suburban areas, making it a common yet often unnoticed neighbor.

  • Wingspan: Typically 18-24 inches for both males and females.
  • Weight: Usually ranges from 4.3 to 8.6 oz.
  • Body Length: 6.3 to 9.8 inches.
  • Species Name: Megascops asio.
  • Distribution Status In Florida: Resident.
  • Location: Throughout Florida, including coastal areas.

What It Looks Like

The Eastern Screech-Owl is distinctive for its “ear” tufts, which it can raise or flatten to change the shape of its head.

This owl is adept at camouflage, with color morphs that include gray, red, and brown, helping it blend into the bark of trees.

The gray morph typically features gray plumage with patterns of darker streaks and fine barring. The red morph exhibits a rich reddish-brown color with darker vertical streaks, while the brown morph appears grayish-brown with dark streaks and some white feathering on the underparts.

Where To Find This Bird

The Eastern Screech-Owl is not particular about its habitat. It can be found in various wooded areas, including deciduous or mixed forests, and it often resides near water. This owl also adapts well to human environments, making it a common sight in suburban parks and gardens.

During the day, the Eastern Screech-Owl roosts quietly in tree cavities and can sometimes be seen at the entrance of its nesting hole. At night, especially during the breeding season, it becomes active and more vocal, making this the optimal time for observing its behaviors.

What They Sound Like

The Eastern Screech-Owl has a variety of calls that include a soft trilling or a mysterious whinny. The trill is used for communication within the family, while the whinny is employed to defend territory.

These sounds can often be heard during the quiet of the night, making them a delightful discovery for those listening.

  • Bounce Song/Tremolo: A steady, even-pitched trill lasting 3–6 seconds, used for communication.
  • Whinny: A short, shrill descending call lasting 0.5–2 seconds, used for territory defense.
  • Other Sounds: When agitated, it may emit a sharp bark or a screech; annoyance is expressed through a chuckle or rattle, and a clacking sound is made by snapping bill mandibles together.

By learning these characteristics and sounds, you enhance your chances of spotting or hearing the elusive Eastern Screech-Owl in its natural Florida habitat.

3. Barn Owl

Barn Owl

The Barn Owl (Tyto alba) stands out as a unique figure in Florida’s avian landscape. It’s the least common owl species breeding in the state, distinguished not only by its rarity but also by its distinct family, separate from the “typical owls”.

Unlike typical owls that fall under the family Strigidae, the Barn Owl belongs to the family Tytonidae. This difference is underscored by several unique physical and behavioral traits.

Barn Owls possess a distinct heart-shaped facial disc, unlike the rounder facial structure of typical owls. Their eyes are smaller and set closer together, giving them a different facial expression.

Let’s delve into the fascinating world of the Barn Owl, exploring its physical characteristics, habitat, and behaviors that make it an intriguing subject of study and observation.

  • Wingspan: Approximately 42 inches for both males and females.
  • Weight: Around 16 oz. for females and slightly lighter for males, averaging at one pound.
  • Body Length: About 16 inches.
  • Species Name: Tyto alba.
  • Distribution Status In Florida: Resident.
  • Location: Throughout Florida, except for the Florida Keys.

What It Looks Like

The Barn Owl is recognized for its ghostlike appearance, especially when spotted at night.

Its most distinguishing feature is its large, white, heart-shaped face edged in brown, which contrasts starkly with its dark eyes and pale bill.

The owl’s legs are longer than those of most other owls and are typically gray, adding to its ethereal look.

In terms of coloring, the top of the head and back are a mix of brown and gray, while the undersides of the wings are pale.

The chest and belly vary between genders; males usually have white plumage, whereas females tend to be light brown with small, dark spots. This distinctive coloration makes the Barn Owl stand out from other owl species, enhancing its unique and haunting presence.

Where To Find This Bird

Barn Owls prefer open areas for nesting, such as agricultural fields, grasslands, and marshes. They are adaptable, nesting in hollow trees, buildings, and specially designed nesting boxes.

In Florida, Barn Owls can be spotted year-round, with egg-laying primarily in February and a possible second breeding in late summer or fall in South Florida.

They are best viewed at night, as they are most active during this time, hunting for food under the cover of darkness. They can be viewed year-round, with breeding peak in February.

What They Sound Like

Barn Owls are known for their eerie, shrieking call, a sound that’s easy to recognize once heard.

This call, along with their silent flight, makes them formidable nocturnal predators, efficiently controlling rodent populations.

The Barn Owl’s presence in Florida, though less common than other owl species, adds a unique layer to the state’s biodiversity.

By understanding where to find them and recognizing their distinctive calls and physical traits, bird watchers can increase their chances of observing these captivating birds.

Through projects like the University of Florida Barn Owl Project in the Everglades Agricultural Area, the relationship between agriculture and Barn Owls demonstrates a successful model of coexistence and mutual benefit, highlighting the importance of conservation efforts for these ghostly inhabitants of the night.

4. Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl

The Great Horned Owl, known scientifically as Bubo virginianus, is a striking figure across Florida, inhabiting everything from dense woodlands to serene park settings and rural expanses.

Often depicted as the quintessential owl in storybooks, this bird is admired for its adaptability and diverse diet, making it a captivating subject for bird watchers and nature enthusiasts alike.

  • Wingspan: Ranges from 40 to 60.5 inches for both males and females.
  • Weight: Males typically weigh around 2.7 lbs, while females, being larger, can weigh up to 3.5 lbs.
  • Body Length: Usually 18 – 25 inches from head to tail.
  • Species Name: Bubo virginianus.
  • Distribution Status In Florida: Resident.
  • Location: Throughout Florida, including forests, wetlands, yards, and cities.

What It Looks Like

The Great Horned Owl is hard to miss with its formidable presence and unique features.

Those large ear tufts perched atop its head and its striking yellow eyes are truly captivating.

Cloaked in mottled brown plumage, the owl’s appearance is further enhanced by a reddish-brown face and a distinctive white patch on the throat, giving it a regal look.

Juvenile Great Horned Owls are particularly fluffy, especially around the head, where their white down contrasts with the darker tones of their facial disc.

The plumage varies by region, with eastern individuals often sporting richer cinnamon shades.

Where To Find This Bird

Great Horned Owls are incredibly versatile, thriving in deciduous and evergreen forests, swamps, deserts, and urban areas like parks and suburbs.

They aren’t picky about their nesting sites either, often settling in tree hollows, human-made structures, or even on the ground.

While these owls are primarily nocturnal, they can sometimes be spotted during the day. They’re found year-round in Florida, with breeding season kicking off in late winter.

What They Sound Like

The Great Horned Owl has a diverse vocal range, from deep, stuttering hoots – “hoo, hoo-hoo, hoo, hoo” – to duets between males and females, with the female’s pitch notably higher. These calls are essential for communication and play a significant role in their mating rituals.

The Great Horned Owl perfectly embodies the wild spirit of Florida’s nocturnal landscape. Its silent flight, impressive hunting skills, and haunting calls add a layer of mystique to the state’s rich biodiversity.

Whether you’re exploring dense forests or enjoying a quiet evening in a suburban park, encountering a Great Horned Owl is always a memorable experience.

5. Burrowing Owl

Burrowing Owl

Meet the Burrowing Owl, scientifically known as Athene cunicularia floridana.

This pint-sized owl is one of Florida’s most distinctive species.

Unlike their tree-dwelling cousins, Burrowing Owls are often found on the ground in open, treeless areas where they make their homes in burrows.

  • Wingspan: Approximately 21 inches for both males and females.
  • Weight: Around 6 ounces for both genders.
  • Body Length: Typically 9 inches.
  • Species Name: Athene cunicularia floridana.
  • Distribution Status In Florida: Resident.
  • Location: In Florida, look for them in open areas with low vegetation, such as golf courses, airports, and vacant lots.

What It Looks Like

Burrowing Owls thrive in wide-open spaces such as prairies, golf courses, airports, and agricultural fields – places with minimal ground cover and plenty of visibility.

These environments are crucial for the owls, allowing them to spot potential threats and prey from a distance.

If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of these charming birds, timing is key. During the breeding season, they are diurnal and active during the day.

Outside of that period, they switch things up and become more nocturnal. In Florida, you can find Burrowing Owls year-round, with breeding spanning from February to July.

Where To Find This Bird

Burrowing Owls are right at home in wide-open spaces. Think prairies, golf courses, airports, and agricultural fields – places with minimal ground cover and plenty of visibility. These environments are crucial for the owls, allowing them to spot potential threats and prey from a distance.

If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of these charming birds, timing is key.

During the breeding season, they are diurnal and active during the day. Outside of that period, they switch things up and become more nocturnal.

In Florida, you can find Burrowing Owls year-round, with breeding spanning from February to July.

What They Sound Like

While the Burrowing Owl may not have the loud and varied calls of some other owl species, it has its own unique set of vocalizations.

During courtship, you might hear a soft cooing sound. When alarmed, these owls emit a series of chirps, essential for communication, especially in their open habitats.

6. Short-Eared Owl

Short-Eared Owl

The Short-eared Owl, a medium-sized owl with a preference for open grasslands and marshes, is a winter visitor to Florida’s landscapes.

This elusive bird is particularly fascinating for bird watchers due to its distinctive flying pattern and tendency to be active during daylight, especially at dusk.

  • Wingspan: Approximately 38 inches for both males and females.
  • Weight: About 7.5 to 17.5 ounces.
  • Body Length: Ranges from 13 to 17 inches.
  • Species Name: Asio flammeus.
  • Distribution Status In Florida: Non-Breeding Range.
  • Location: During winter months, you might spot them in suitable habitats across Florida.

What It Looks Like

Spotting a Short-eared Owl is always a treat, thanks to its unique characteristics.

It boasts a rounded head with minimal ear tufts that are often not visible. Its mottled brown, buff, and white plumage above contrasts beautifully with the buff below and dark streaks on the breast.

The owl’s piercing yellow eyes are surrounded by dark patches on a pale facial disk, giving it a distinctive look. When in flight, you can identify it by the barred wing tips and a distinctive black mark at the wrist, along with a buff patch on the outer wing.

Where To Find This Bird

In Florida, the Short-eared Owl favors open fields, grasslands, and even airports.

You’re most likely to spot these birds around dawn or dusk during the winter months when they migrate south from their northern breeding grounds. So, the best time to observe them in Florida is during the winter months.

They prefer large, sparsely vegetated open areas, which provide the visibility they need to hunt and avoid predators. These owls are primarily active during the day, with a special preference for hunting at dusk.

What They Sound Like

While the Short-eared Owl tends to be mostly silent during its winter stay in Florida, it’s known for a raspy, bark-like call.

Its vocalizations are more commonly heard during the breeding season in the north, where you might catch a series of short rapid hoots during courtship.

By keeping an eye out for these distinctive features and behaviors, you may get the chance to observe the Short-eared Owl. It’s a rare and beautiful sight in Florida’s open grasslands and marshes, one that adds a touch of wild excitement to your bird-watching adventures.

7. Northern Saw-Whet Owl

Northern Saw-Whet Owl

The Northern Saw-whet Owl, though not commonly found in Florida, captures the curiosity of bird enthusiasts with its elusive nature and adorable appearance.

This tiny owl, known for its high-pitched calls and nocturnal habits, is a rare winter visitor in the northern regions of the state, making any sighting a special event.

  • Wingspan: Approximately 17 inches for both males and females.
  • Weight: About 2.3 to 3.5 oz. for both genders.
  • Body Length: Typically around 7 to 8 inches.
  • Species Name: Aegolius acadicus.
  • Distribution Status In Florida: Uncommon Nonbreeding Range.
  • Location: Look for them in wooded areas, especially during migration periods.

What It Looks Like

The Northern Saw-whet Owl is easily recognized by its large, round head that lacks ear tufts.

Its mottled brown and white plumage, accented with fine white streaks on the head, gives it a distinctive appearance.

Bright yellow eyes make this small owl stand out, while the white “V” between its eyes adds to its unique facial features.

Where To Find This Bird

Though sightings in Florida are rare, during its winter migration, the Northern Saw-whet Owl prefers dense coniferous forests or mixed woodlands with plenty of cover. These environments provide the perfect hideaway for this elusive bird.

As a mainly nocturnal bird, the best time to spot the Northern Saw-whet Owl is at night. Winter is the ideal season for sightings, especially during irruptive migration years when food supplies in their northern habitats become scarce.

What They Sound Like

The Northern Saw-whet Owl is known for its repetitive and high-pitched “too-too-too” call, which echoes through the quiet winter forests. Often, this distinct call will be your first clue to its presence, as the owl itself might be well-hidden within the dense foliage.

Rare Sightings

Although Florida is home to a diverse array of owl species, there are a couple that don’t call Florida home, but may be found on rare occasions due to their migratory patterns.

1. Stygian Owl

Stygian Owl

The Stygian Owl, though rarely seen in Florida, garners significant attention from bird enthusiasts due to its occasional appearances. It has been documented as a vagrant in the state, making it a noteworthy find.

  • Wingspan: Approximately 38 inches for both males and females.
  • Weight: 14 to 24 oz, with females generally being larger.
  • Body Length: About 16.5 inches.
  • Species Name: Asio stygius.
  • Distribution Status In Florida: Rare Vagrant.

Identifying Characteristics

The Stygian Owl is a medium-sized owl that boasts ear tufts and striking yellow eyes that contribute to its unique appearance.

A white mark adorns its forehead, set against a contrasting blackish face, adding to its intriguing look.

The owl’s pale underparts are accentuated with dark streaks and barring, while its long wings complement a buff belly.

Additionally, it has large feet equipped with long talons, suited for its predatory lifestyle.

In terms of sexual dimorphism, both males and females share a similar appearance, though females tend to be slightly larger.

Where To Find This Bird

The Stygian Owl has a preference for tropical woodland habitats, thriving in environments such as montane forests and semi-open areas.

Its adaptability allows it to inhabit both coniferous and mixed woodlands. This species demonstrates an interesting nesting behavior; it often chooses the ground or repurposes old raptor nests for its own use, showcasing its opportunistic nature.
When it comes to observing these magnificent birds, the best times fall under the cover of night, as the Stygian Owl is primarily nocturnal.

Spotting this owl in Florida can be particularly rare, making any encounter a memorable event. Observers are more likely to spot this elusive owl during specific migration periods, when it temporarily makes its presence known in areas outside its usual range.

What They Sound Like

The vocalizations of the Stygian Owl are distinctive and serve as an important identifier for this seldom seen bird.

Its call starts with a brief, high-pitched note that quickly transitions into a deep, resonant hoot. This sequence is repeated at long intervals, creating a pattern that is both haunting and unique.

2. Long-Eared Owl

Long-Eared Owl

The Long-eared Owl (Asio otus) is a medium-sized owl known for its striking ear tufts that resemble long ears, giving it a unique appearance.

It has been spotted in Florida on very rare occassions.

  • Wingspan: Approximately 3 feet 3 inches for both males and females.
  • Weight: Details on the weight specifically for males and females are not provided, but it’s known for its lanky appearance.
  • Body Length: About 15 inches.
  • Species Name: Asio otus.
  • Distribution Status In Florida: Rare Vagrant.

Identifying Characteristics

The Long-eared Owl is quite a sight with its long and slender body accented by prominent ear tufts.

Its orangish facial disc and yellow eyes make it easily recognizable. During the day, this owl roosts in the dense parts of pines and other trees, often near the trunk, which provides excellent camouflage. When it takes flight, you’ll notice its large rounded wings and streaked underparts.

Where To Find This Bird

The Long-eared Owl prefers woodlands and conifer groves where it can find dense trees for nesting and roosting, alongside open country for hunting.

Its habitat spans a variety of environments, from forests with extensive meadows to groves of conifers or deciduous trees in prairie regions, and streamside groves in desert areas. Generally, it avoids unbroken forests.

This owl hunts mostly at night, sometimes venturing out before dusk, especially when feeding its young. During the winter, the Long-eared Owl is known to roost communally, sometimes in groups of a dozen or more, making it a bit easier to spot.

What They Sound Like

This owl is quite vocal, producing an incredible variety of hoots, squeals, barks, and other noises. These calls are seldom heard except during breeding time, when you might hear its soft low hoots, whistles, whines, shrieks, and even cat-like meows.

The male’s hoot can sometimes be heard up to a kilometer away, making it a distinctive sound during the quiet night hours.

3. Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl

Snowy Owls, with their majestic appearance, very rarely find themselves in Florida, surprising many with their presence far from their Arctic home.

These large, beautiful white owls, known for their striking features and rarity in warmer climates, have been spotted as far south as Florida during irruptive years, most notably during 2013 to 2014.

  • Wingspan: Approximately 4 feet 7 inches for both males and females.
  • Weight: Around 4 to 5 pounds, making them one of the heaviest owls in North America.
  • Body Length: About 24 inches.
  • Species Name: Bubo scandiacus.
  • Distribution Status In Florida: Rare Vagrant.

Identifying Characteristics

The Snowy Owl’s plumage varies significantly, with males being almost entirely white and females displaying bits of brown to aid their camouflage in the Arctic tundra.

Juvenile owls tend to be more heavily streaked. Both sexes have a distinctive white face with bright yellow eyes and the characteristic black beak.

Where To Find This Bird

While their usual habitat is the open tundra of the Arctic, during irruptive years when Snowy Owls venture south, they can be found in open fields, marshes, dunes, and even beaches in Florida.

These sightings, though rare, occur during the winter months, drawing bird watchers and enthusiasts eager to catch a glimpse of this Arctic visitor.

Snowy Owls are diurnal, meaning they are active during the day, a behavior that stands out among other owl species. The best time to see them is during the winter, particularly in irruptive years when their population spikes or food sources in the Arctic become scarce.

What They Sound Like

Unlike the more melodious calls of other owls, Snowy Owls have simpler, hoarse “whoos” or more excitable squawks. These sounds, while not fitting their regal appearance, are part of what makes encountering a Snowy Owl a unique experience.

4. Flammulated Owl

Named after the distinctive flame-like markings on its face, the Flammulated Owl is a small, elusive owl species found in western North America. Measuring only 6 inches in length, it is one of the smallest owl species in North America.

Sightings of the Flammulated Owl in Florida are exceedingly rare. This owl typically resides in montane forests of the West, making its presence in the state a notable exception rather than the rule.

Identifying Characteristics

  • Wingspan: Approximately 14 inches for both males and females.
  • Weight: About 1.8 to 2.3 oz. for both genders.
  • Body Length: Typically around 6 inches.
  • Species Name: Psiloscops flammeolus.
  • Distribution Status In Florida: Rare Vagrant.

What It Looks Like

The Flammulated Owl can be recognized by its small size and unique facial markings. Its upper parts are brown with white spots, while its underparts are pale with streaks of dark coloring. As the name suggests, it has flame-like markings on its face that are a combination of reddish-brown and black.

Where To Find This Bird

Flammulated Owls prefer to make their homes in coniferous forests, particularly ponderosa pine forests. They are also found in mixed hardwood-conifer forests and habitats with open areas for hunting, such as meadows and grasslands.

They are primarily active at night but can occasionally be seen during the day perched high in trees or flying through the forest.

What They Sound Like

The Flammulated Owl has a distinct, soft hooting call that is often described as a series of “hoo-hoo-hoo” sounds. This call can sometimes be heard at night during breeding season.


What is the largest species of owl found in Florida? The Great Horned Owl holds the title for being the largest owl species in Florida. Known for their formidable size and aggression, these owls are unique in their nesting habits, often taking over nests originally built by bald eagles during the winter months.

Are eastern screech owls considered a rare species? Eastern screech owls are still fairly common and widespread across their range. However, there has been a noted gradual decline in their population in certain areas. Conservation efforts, such as the installation of nest boxes, have been beneficial in supporting their numbers in some regions.

What species of owl is most frequently seen in Central Florida? The Barred Owl is the most prevalent large-bodied owl in Central Florida. These owls are easily recognizable by their impressive size. They are commonly found in urban settings as well as in the swamps and woodlands of Florida, adapting well to various environments.

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