Nature, Uncategorized

Types of Owls You See in Wild (19 Pictures, Features, Guide)

Owls are outstanding creatures that are known for their unsurpassable hunting skills and amazing eyesight. Besides, their unique appearance makes them highly exotic animals.

Generally, bird enthusiasts are fond of exploring and knowing more about owls. If you are one of those, this guide can be beneficial.

Although there are numerous types of owls, we have listed only a few of them that are relatively popular and are widely inhabited.


  1. Barn Owl (Tyto alba)

The distinctive feature of a barn owl is its heart-shaped face. This species is found on almost every continent except Antarctica. Barn owls are referred to as the most widely spread species.

Being nocturnal creatures, these owls love to hunt during the night. While nesting, barn owls hunt more prey and store them for their young ones.

These owls have a superior hearing ability due to their asymmetrically placed ears. Besides, their downy feathers allow them to fly almost silently. This enhances the chances of hunting prey with maximum accuracy.


  1. Long-Eared Owl (Asio otus)

This species is quite common in Europe, Asia, and North America. The long-eared owls live in the abandoned nests of other birds. They usually prey on small mammals that they can easily locate in open areas.

During the courtship act, these owls display aerial shows. The males also make calls to attract the female. During the breeding season, most of these owls make monogamous pairs.


  1. Oriental Bay Owl (Phodilus badius)

This species is also nocturnal and they are found in Southeast Asia. The oriental bay owl loves to live in evergreen grasslands and forests that are close to water bodies.

These owls are considered as the subspecies of the Barn owls. The Oriental bay owl has some similarities to the bay owl. However, this particular species is relatively smaller.

Oriental bay owls reside in the tree holes. This particular location allows them to easily attack on the prey sitting on a tree trunk.


  1. Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus)

A snowy owl is among the largest and heaviest species of owl. Usually, these owls are found in the Eurpoe, Asia, and Arctic tundra of North America.

Some species of snowy owls are also seen in Eastern areas of the United States. These owls primarily feed on lemmings, especially when they are available in abundance.

Amazingly, they will postpone their breeding if lemmings aren’t available. The nests of snowy owls are built on the snow. These nests are simply a depression on the ice created by the female owl.

Snowy owls are listed as endangered species by the IUCN.


  1. Tawny Owl (Strix aluco)

This species belongs to the true owl category. They can make their homes in a variety of habitats including forests, cemeteries, and gardens. These are the most commonly found owls in England.

Basically, Tawny owls are nocturnal. They like to hunt small rodents, birds, amphibians, and insects. These owls belong to the nonmigratory group of birds. Hence, Tawny birds are extremely territorial.

During the breeding season, they make loud and screeching calls to attract females. In addition, they also make such noises in order to defend their young ones.


  1. Speckled Owl (Pulsatrix perspicillata)

Speckled owls are found in Central America, Southern parts of America and Mexico. These owls like to make their nests in the old trees of a dense forest.

Speckled owls can fly at a fast speed. These are the nonmigratory owls. Speckled owls love to prey on those small mammals that are normally active during the night.

The yellow eyes of these owls have white markings around them, which appear like spectacles. This is why these owls are named speckled owls. Besides, they have the ability to hide in the tropical foliage.


  1. Eurasian Eagle-Owl (Bubo bubo)

It is among the largest species of owls. They have a wingspan ranging between five to six feet. Eurasian Eagle-owl is a strong predator. It hunts on almost everything including snakes, small mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.

These owls have also been reported to prey on large animals like foxes or other huge birds. They are found in abundance in Asia and Europe. These are the true owls who are capable of living in a variety of habitats.

For instance, they can live in deserts, mountains, and thick forests. Eurasian Eagle-owl pairs with its mate for his whole life. These owls make their nests in the cave entrances and rock crevices.

Just like some other owl species, Eurasian Eagle-owl only breed when there is no scarcity of food.


  1. Eastern Screech-Owl owl (Otus asio)

This is a small owl, which is 6 to 9 inches long. Being nocturnal creatures, they stay active during the night. Eastern Screech-owls hunt down small mammals, frogs, lizards, and other birds.

They are available in large numbers in the Eastern parts of North America. These species are also found in Canada and Mexico. The Eastern screech-owls don’t screech but only make a feeble call.

Like other owls, this particular species is capable of exhibiting amazing camouflage abilities. This is so, as they rely on their extraordinary coloration. Hence, they can easily find a perfectly matched cavity.


  1. Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)

This is the most widely available and highly adaptable species of owls. They are found in most parts of America and Canada. Furthermore, these owls are capable of living in a variety of habitats.

Surprisingly, the Great Horned owl can survive at a height of 10,000 feet from sea level. They are strong and experienced predators.

This species loves to prey on a wide range of animals like small mammals, snakes, birds, or even other owls. The mated pair strongly defends their nest. They make loud hooting sounds to alarm the intruder.


  1. Great Gray Owl (Strix nebulosa)

The Great Gray Owls are the inhabitants of Asia and Europe. Besides, they are also found in Canada, Alaska, and the US. These species are usually found in those areas where they don’t encounter humans.

Great Gray owls have an average height of 24 to 33 inches. They are among the tallest owl species. When in defensive mode, its fluffy feathers add more volume to this already large owl.

It is easily identifiable due to its unique facial disk. There are grey stripes that encircle both of its large yellow eyes.


  1. Northern Pygmy-Owl (Glaucidium gnoma)

Unlike other owls, the Northern pygmy owl is an aggressive hunter that loves to hunt during the day. It is a small owl, which is so fierce that it actually attacks animals that are larger than its own body.

This species is native to the U.S., Western Canada, and Mexico. They are only 6-inches tall, which makes it possible for them to camouflage.

This species has a unique feature, which relates to the presence of two false eyes at the back of its head. As a result, they can easily deceive other predators or attackers.


  1. Tawny Fish-Owl (Ketupa flavipes)

The tawny fish-owl are in abundance in China and Southeast Asia. These are among some of the large species of owls. They are popular for their ear tufts. These owls also have large yellow eyes.

This species of owls have a different diet, which consists mainly of fish. Tawny fish owls also feed on other aquatic animals. They can live in a wide range of habitats including temperate forests, subtropical habitats, and forests near rivers or streams.


  1. Striped Owl (Asio clamator)

As the name suggests, these owls have elegantly designed stripes on their body. They also have unique ear tufts. Their body contains white and black streaks with some stripes of cinnamon color.

The stripped owls belong to the true owl category. They are available in South and Central America. The habitat of these owls includes savannas, woodlands, and marshlands.

They can comfortably live at a height of 1,400 feet above sea level. Striped owls make their nest in the thick foliage to prevent their detection.


  1. Northern Saw-Whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus)

The Northern saw-whet owl is among the smallest species of owls. They are only seven to eight inches tall. These are the true owls, which make noises similar to a sound that is associated with the sharpening of a saw on the whetstone.

Hence, they are referred to as the Saw-Whet Owls. Since they are small creatures, it is hard to locate them. In fact, you can hear this species but spotting them is relatively hard.

Northern saw-whet owls prefer to live in woodlands. Due to their small size, they prey only on small mammals.


  1. Spotted Wood-Owl (Strix seloputo)

The spotted wood owl has a distinct orange-colored face. They are found in different areas of Southeast Asia. Being a true owl, this species can live in woodland and forests.

These owls are commonly found near water bodies. They have a striped coloration, which helps to hide themselves in thick canopies. This species feeds on small rodents, mammals, and birds.


  1. Boreal Owl (Aegolius funereus)

Also referred to as “Tengmalm’s owl” this species is found in areas of the northern U.S., Europe, Alaska, and Canada. They make nests in the tree cavities of the boreal and subalpine forests.

Talking about the appearance of this particular owl, it has a brown color with small white spots at its head. They are small hunters and like to hunt during the night. Boreal owls feast on birds, small mammals, and insects.


  1. Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia)

Unlike most of the birds, the burrowing owls live in the burrows. They don’t dig a borrow but use the old burrows of squirrels. Being nocturnal, these owls hunt during the night.

While flying, it captures the prey with its long legs. These owls are too small and measure only 7 to 10 inches long. Burrowing owls live in grasslands and open files.

These species are found in different parts of the world including America, Canada, and Mexico. These are the migratory type of owls, as they tend to migrate during the harsh weather.


  1. Western Screech-Owl (Otus kennicottii)

Western screech owls are relative of the Eastern screech owl. They are found in the areas located in Central and North America. Their preferred habitat is either woods or forest edges.

They make their homes in the abandoned nests of woodpeckers. These owls can exhibit exceptional camouflage techniques. The western screech owls are nocturnal hunters.



Interesting Facts about Owls

Owls have an interesting appearance and so are the facts about this bird. Below, we have shared some of the most interesting facts about the owls.

Owls have a Unique and Specialized Neck

Although it is commonly believed that the Owls can swivel their neck at the full 360-degree, this isn’t true. However, in reality, they are capable of turning their head up to 270 degrees.

Their neck consists of additional vertebrae and each vertebra contains one socket pivot. This offers a great range of motion.

Apart from this, there are some other reasons for this unbelievable turning ability of an owl’s neck. For instance, owls have more arteries, which ensure a continuous supply of blood to the brain.

This is essential during the full-twisting action of the neck. The additional arteries serve the purpose of supplying blood when the main arteries are closed.


The Feathers Improves the hearing ability of an Owl

Some of the most common species of owls like Great Gray and Barn Owls have flat and wide faces. Although they look adorable, yet they have to work really hard when it comes to listening to a sound.

To compensate for this, these owls have dark-tipped and specialized feathers located on their faces. This helps them to hear well. In fact, this facial feature helps them to hear even the movement of a rat from a distance of 200 yards.

The owls first listen to the sound that hits their left ear. After that, the sound hits their right ear. In order to know exactly the direction of a sound, the owl has to move its head constantly.

This allows the owl to listen to the sound simultaneously from both years. Apart from this, owls can even detect the difference between right and left ear’s sounds up to 30 millionths of a second.

Even with such a complex hearing mechanism, most of the owls can listen much better than other day-hunting birds. In fact, owls hunt during the night, which requires them to depend more on their ears.

A barn owl uses sound frequencies over 8.5 kHz to listen and locate its prey’s movement. They often pause during the mid-flight to re-orientate themselves with the sound of their prey.

A few species of owls such as Great Gray owls are capable of hunting by only using their hearing skills. They can even locate the small mammals moving under the grass or snow.

Barn owls contain additional neurons (three times more) in the medulla as compared to the crows. Hence, they can locate the source of a sound with extraordinary accuracy.


Owls are Unable to Chew

Just like other birds, owls don’t have teeth in their mouth. Hence, they can’t chew their food. Small preys are swallowed whole while the large ones are torn into pieces and eaten piece by piece.

After eating their prey whole, they digest the meat parts, while the bones and fur are regurgitated in the shape of pellets.


Some Owls Prefer Living in the Burrows

Burrowing owls are in a habit of living in the burrows made by other animals. They spend most of their time roosting in the burrows and usually hunt during dusk.


Eyes of an Owl are Fixed

The eyes of an Owl are different, as they s don’t have eyeballs. Instead, they possess “Eye Tubes.” These tubes are stretched to the backside of an owl’s skull.

This type of anatomy makes them highly skilled predators. However, they can’t look on the right or left side by turning moving eyes.

In order to look in either direction, owls turn their heads. This is the unique and most pronounced movement that you normally observe when looking at an owl.


Owls are Farsighted

Since the eyes of an owl are located at the front, they have superior binocular vision. They are capable of seeing objects located within 110 degrees.

With an increased depth perception, they enjoy incredible night vision. Due to this farsighted vision, an owl can locate even a small mouse running through the bushes.


The Group of owls is referred to as a Parliament

Usually, most of the owls prefer to live solitarily. They live alone and hunt alone. Only the pair starts to live together during the breeding season.

However, on a few occasions, a small group of owls does converge on the branch of a tree. This particular group is known as a parliament.


Ancient Humans Considered Owls as the Symbols Death

Since ancient times, humans are used to monitor owls. Starting from ancient Egypt, owls were taken as the symbols of death and mourning.

Besides, owls were referred to as bad luck or harbingers of death in ancient Rome. They also used to nail owls at their doors. According to these ancient Romans, doing this can prevent them from any kind of harm.


Owls can Attack Humans

No doubt, owls can attack humans. This might be rare, yet these birds become extremely fierce when they find a human coming closer to their nest.

Besides, when they are confused or threatened, they have no other choice but to attack the humans. In addition to this, owls may also consider some of the belongings of humans as prey.

This might instigate them to attach a human. For instance, the binoculars hanging around our neck may appear to be prey to the owls.


Some Owls Resemble a Cat

Although owls are powerful hunters, yet some of them look extremely adorable. Besides, their appearance is deceptive at times. For instance, the long-eared owls have ear tufts, which appear to be the ears.

This is why they look identical to a cat. Not only this, but these owls also sound like a cat. Instead of hooting, these owls tend to make screeching sounds. These sounds resemble that of a cat.


Owls Help to Control Pests

Although owls love to eat rodents, they also feast on insects. According to research, an average barn owl family can consume over 3000 rodents within just four-month of their breeding period.

In addition, an owl can easily consume over 30 kg of gophers per year. Most of the farmers use to install owl nests boxes in their fields. They do this in a hope that owls will inhabit their planted nesting boxes.

If a couple of families start to live in these boxes, they can clean out pests naturally. This is a natural type of pest control mechanism, which is effective as well as safe.


The Sreeches of Barn Owls are awful

You might have listened to the hooting sound of an owl, which is a kind of comfortable to the ears. However, barn owls don’t have such an adorable sound.

Instead, they like to screech when threatened. They make loud and long screeches, which are terrifying. Besides, listening to their hissing sound is not less than a nightmare.


A Pair of Owls can Mate for their Life

A particular species of owls named the Eastern Screech owl performs some sort of unique courtship rituals. They may display an elaborate dance to attract the female.

These owls usually bob and sway with a view to draw the attention of a female. The mating rituals are performed at a quite fast pace.

This owl species can live for eight to ten years. After mating for the first time, the pair would continue to mate with each other during every breeding season.

In other words, the pair of Eastern Screech owl are extremely loyal to each other.


Owls make Pellets

Since owls have no teeth, they can’t chew their food. They swallow their prey whole if it is small. Even if they break it into small chunks, the fur and bones of their prey are eaten along with the flesh.

These large pieces of food pass via their proventriculus. This is the place where the food is broken down into smaller digestible pieces with help of enzymes and acids.

After that, the food enters the gizzard. This is the organ, which separates the digestible food from the bones and furs by squeezing it.

The leftover is known as pellets. It is then pushed back towards the proventriculus. Here, it stays for another ten hours. In the end, the owl regurgitates these pellets out of its mouth.

Until the regurgitation process is over, the owl is unable to eat another prey.


Owls belong to the order Strigiformes. There are more than 200 species of owls and most of them are solitary and nocturnal in their behavior.

A wide range of owl species is resident, yet there are a few exceptions where they live a nomadic life. They wander in search of food and settle at a place until it continues to provide them food and shelter.

Resident species of owls have a regular family consisting of three to four chicks that they rear every year. On the contrary, nomadic owls mate only when the conditions are favorable.

This means they won’t have their young ones until there is sufficient food or the weather is suitable. So, environment and food play key roles during breeding.

Owls can live in both tropical and temperate areas of the world. Usually, they are nocturnal, which means they stay active during the night.


Appearance and Features of an Owl

Talking about the appearance, owls have round heads and flat faces. The eyes are forward-facing. They have a beak that is identical to that of a hawk. Besides, they have ear-holes instead of regular ears.

The feathers around the ears are adjustable. This feature helps to gather sound waves coming from different directions. Hence, owls can even listen to distant sounds clearly.

Usually, birds have eyes on each side of their head. However, the forward-facing eyes of an owl offer much better vision during low light.

They enjoy a stronger sense of depth when it comes to vision. This allows them to precisely hunt their prey during the night.

Despite the binocular vision, owls can’t move their eyes. In order to see around them, owls have to turn their entire head. Owls can rotate their heads and necks as much as 270°.

The neck of an owl contains 14 vertebrae. Whereas, humans have just seven. This is why the neck of an owl is exceptionally flexible.

In addition, their circulatory system has been adapted to allow rotation to such an extent. This is another unique feature associated with owls.

After catching prey, they can feel it with their filoplumes. These are the tiny hairlike feathers that are located on the feet and beak. In fact, these feathers act as “feelers”.

Furthermore, owls may vary in terms of their size and weight. The Elf owl is the smallest owl, which measures 13.5 cm and weighs just 31 g.

On the other hand, the Eurasian eagle-owl and Blakiston’s fish owl are two of the largest owls. The length of these species can reach up to 71 cm and they can weigh up to 4.2 kg.


Powerful Vision

The extraordinary vision is among the most notable characteristics of an owl. This feature helps owls to live a nocturnal life and catch prey during the night.

Owls are popular for their large eyes. However, the skull size isn’t that big as compared to the eyes. Hence, the eyes of an owl become tubular.

These eyes are fixed into the sclerotic tubes. Hence owls can’t move them sideways. To overcome this deficiency, nature has come up with a unique solution.

An owl can swivel its head to see the objects in the surroundings. In fact, owls can swivel their head at an angle of 270-degree. This enables them to even see what’s happening behind them.

Besides, these birds are farsighted. They are capable to see a distant image even in low light. The eyesight of an owl is far better than its prey. This gives them an advantage over their prey.

However, they are not capable of seeing an object within a few inches of range. Hence, they can’t even focus on the prey that is clutched in their feet.


Hearing Ability

Apart from sharp eyes, owls also have highly responsive ears. The specialized design of their ears helps them during hunting. Owls may have external or internal ears.

In both cases, the ears are asymmetrically located. This type of ear placement allows the owls to precisely identify the location of their prey.

Since ears are located at slightly different places, it allows the owls to determine the direction from where the sound is coming. It helps owls to locate their prey even in the complete darkness.

The brain calculates the minute difference in the time that the sound waves take to reach each ear. The owl turns its head in all directions.

It continues to move the head until it feels that the sound is reaching both ears at the same time. This is the direction from where the sound is coming.

After knowing the target area, the owl immediately flies towards the prey and catches it within seconds.


Types of Feathers and Flight

Generally, owls have the ability to fly silently. They can even fly slowly as compared to other nocturnal birds. This gives them the advantage to fly as close as possible to the prey.

Since silence prevails during the night, the slightest movement can alert the prey. Hence, a slow and silent flight is much needed for nocturnal hunters like owls.

The feathers of an owl are relatively larger than that of an average bird. They have less radiates and a longer pennulum. Besides, these feathers have smooth edges.

The presence of serrated edges and remiges lowers the sound of flapping to its minimum. In addition, the surface of the feathers has a velvety surface, which absorbs most of the sound.

This feature optimizes the chances of an owl to silently fly near to prey and capture it. However, there is a drawback to such feathers. These feathers aren’t waterproof.

Hence, owls can’t hunt during rain. This problem can turn out to be disastrous when the male owl has to feed its chicks. Besides, they also struggle to keep themselves warm during the wet season.



As stated above, owls are mostly nocturnal. However, there are a few species that are crepuscular. These types of owls are only active during the twilight hours dusk and dawn.

One of the most popular crepuscular owls is Pygmy Owl. On the other hand, only a couple of species of owls can stay active during the day i.e. Short-eared owl and Burrowing owl.

The sharp beak of an owl is used to kill the prey before swallowing it whole. Besides, the body language of the owls is quite expressive. They weave their heads as if they are curious about something.

When an owl is relaxed, its plumage will appear to be fluffy and loose. However, upon anticipating a threat, it will turn slim and ear-tufts will stand straight (If present).

When alarmed or excited, the pygmy Owl usually flicks its tail from one side to another. In addition, owls exhibit a more fierce behavior when protecting their chicks.

During this mode, they ruffle their feathers to enhance their size. Moreover, they lower their head and spread wings. They usually keep the upper parts of their wings pointing downwards.

When nesting, a few species of owls tend to be more aggressive. Under these circumstances, owls have been reported to even attack humans, especially when they feel threatened.



Just in the case of other birds, breeding is an essential part of an Owl’s lifecycle. During this period, they mate, do nesting and rearing their chicks. Usually, owls breed annually.

Spring is the most appropriate type for breeding among most of the owl species. Especially, owls that are the inhabitants of sub-Arctic or temperate regions do prefer to breed during mild hot conditions.

Besides weather, the availability of sufficient food also plays a key role when it comes to breeding. During food scarcity, owls usually postpone breeding and rearing their young ones.

Hence, there might be certain variations in breeding patterns depending on the availability of food, weather, disease, and interaction with a suitable mate.


  1. Courtship Rituals

This particular behavior is common in almost all animals and birds. The courtship rituals may vary between species, yet it all starts with the calling.

During calling acts, the male tries to attract a female. This involves unique courtship flights and food offerings. The female on the other hand is in search of a suitable nest.

Upon finding a perfect nest, the female accepts the food and starts to mate with the male. Often, there is an act of mutual preening. The couple usually stays close to each other during the breeding season.


  1. Owls are Monogamous

Generally, Owls tend to be monogamous. Each of the pairs comprises one female and one male. None of them is involved with any other male or female nesting birds.

In some species, the bond between a pair can only last for the breeding season. This behavior is normally observed in the migratory or dispersive species.

On the contrary, some other species like “Little Owl” can stay together for the whole year. In addition, the pair of “Tawny Owl” is so faithful that both the partners stay together for their whole life.


  1. Territorial Behavior

Owls vigorously guard their territories during the breeding season. This is a behavior that is generally predominant during mating or rearing of the offspring.

They fiercely defend their nest as well as surrounding areas and feeding territory. There might be occasional fights between other competitors of the same species.

Among the dispersive owls, this territorial behavior only lasts for the breeding season. However, there are certain species like Eagle Owls and Tawny Owls that continue to defend their territories around the year.

In most cases, large and even medium-sized species won’t hesitate to attack the humans if they try to come close to their nests. They normally blow at the face of the intruders with their talons and feet.

In some cases, Diurnal species (active during the day) of Owls usually display their territorial behavior in a vigorous way. For instance, Short-eared Owls display wing-clapping and buoyant flights.

This is a striking way of announcing their presence to the intruders, competitors, and potential mates. On the contrary, nocturnal owl species prefer making various calls to advertise themselves.

The established pairs of sedentary species often sing duets to show their presence and warn the intruders.


  1. Nesting

Owls seldom make their nests. On the contrary, they take advantage of the abandoned nests of other birds. Furthermore, the ground-dwelling species of owls make their nests within burrows and dry grass.

For instance, the Snowy owl creates a hole or depression in the snow and fills it with some leaves. Besides, a Short-eared owl usually nests within grass tussocks.

The most common nesting place for a wide range of owl species is the hole in a tree trunk. The Barn owls use barns for nesting purposes. This is so, as barns provide them a cozy and dry place to rear their offspring.

Apart from this, Burrowing owls prefer to use the borrows left by other mammals. In some cases, they can even dig their own burrows. Some of the species like Eagle Owls use rock ledges or crevices as nests.

The female owl can lay up to thirteen eggs. However, the number of eggs depends on the species and age of the female. Usually, three to four eggs are quite common.

The owl eggs are white-colored and round. Since owls defend their nest fiercely, there is no need for cryptic markings on the eggs. The incubation period starts when the female lays her first egg.

In various species, this period may last for thirty days. Owls rarely leave their eggs unattended during the incubation period. The female creates a cozy environment for the eggs by her feathers and body heat.

The lower part of the female body has minimum feathers. This is the area where most of the veins are located. This part offers maximum heat to the eggs.


  1. Rearing of Chicks

The chicks of an owl hatch with help of a specifically designed “Egg Tooth”. It is a type of unique protrusion located at the tip of their beak. This is quite common in almost all types of birds.

Since eggs are laid for several days, the eggs hatch at different intervals. Hence, there will be a gradation among the size and age of all the chicks.

The large ones are more active and they consume more food. The smaller and weaker siblings get less attention and food from their parents. Therefore, it is rarely common for all the hatchlings to survive.

However, the survival ratio is substantially good when abundant food is available. When the food is scarce, the youngest chicks would die of starvation.

In addition, there are also instances where elder chicks kill their younger and feeble siblings for food. Although it appears to be brutal, yet it is the rule of nature referred to as “Survival of the Fittest”.

In fact, it is a kind of maintaining a healthy population of each owl species. The survived chicks can become healthy adults and further produce healthy offspring.

The male parent feeds the offspring nearly ten times a day. Larger prey is first ripped apart and then fed to the young ones. Whereas, the smaller prey is swallowed whole.

The offsprings start to produce pellets once they have consumed their first whole prey.


True Owls Vs Barn Owls

Technically, owls have two main family species Strigidae (True Owls) and Tytonidae (Barn Owls). Apart from their appearance, there are numerous other differences between these two types of owls.

Discussed below are the key differences between the true owls and barn owls.


Appearance and Flight Pattern

The true owls are relatively larger and have round faces. Besides, they have a white and mottled brown plumage. There are distinctive markings on the lower parts of these owls.

They have white and brown barred wings and a tail of medium length. The plumage is similar in both sexes. Their flight pattern includes slow yet steady wing beats coupled with less frequent long glides.

On the other hand, barn owls have a smart and slim physical structure. They are usually medium-sized and have a unique white face that is shaped like a heart.

Besides, the chest and under wings area are purely white. Their head is a mix of grey and buff colors. Males are relatively paler as compared to females.

Barn owls have a short tail, long rounded wings, and long legs. During the flight, barn owls frequently alternate between the glides and short flaps.

Distinctive Calls

The call of a true owl consists of a series of classic whoo and hoots sounds. They make a relatively loud noise, which fades towards the end.

On the contrary, barn owls don’t hoot at all. They make harsh and loud screeches. Their rasping calls are altogether different than any other species of owls.


Roosting and Nesting

True owls prefer to roost on the tree trunks during the day. They usually perch in the hidden cavities of the trees. When it comes to nesting sites, true owls like deep holes in the tree trunks. They usually live in the nests made by hawks, crows, or squirrels.

Barn owls tend to roost during the daytime. However, they don’t roost on the tree, rather they choose barns or other buildings.

Besides, they usually nest at the roosting place i.e. barns or abandoned buildings. Some of the large species like to nest in crevices and cliff ledges.


Hunting Behavior

Both the true and barn owl species are nocturnal in nature. Hence, they hunt during the night. They use to prey on reptiles, amphibians, small mammals, and insects.

However, their hunting style may differ. Barred owls perch on a high tree branch and wait for the prey to come within its reach. They watch with their sharp eyes and hear with their amazing ears.

Upon getting a signal of the prey, they immediately dive down and catch the prey. In some cases, they may perch near a lake or river and prey on fish.

Barn owls love to hunt in the open air while flying. They take a low flight over the marshes and fields. Upon seeing a prey, they dive onto it. They clutch the prey within their strong claws and fly back to their nest.



The true owls prefer large areas for their habitat. Such an area is a mixture of mature woodland and swamps. The trees in these areas are large and have plenty of places for the owls to roost.

Whereas, the barn owls choose large and open places like grasslands and marshes as their habitat. In most cases, barn owls live in close proximity of the human habitation.