What do you think of when someone mentions Florida? Partying, beach, summer, ocean, the scorching sun? It’s so easy to forget that Florida is surrounded by forestry. The 175 state parks, 9 trails, and 35 forests are a home and rest stop to 589 bird species.
Owls are among the many bird species that find Florida a great place to live and breed. Owls in Florida are drastically different from one another in shape, size, and food habitat. Yet, they manage to share the same sky, lakes, and wilderness. Five of them are resident species, one is migratory and one with confirmed sighting but are rarely spotted.
Doesn’t it make you curious as to what these birds of prey are doing in the state?
7 Owls in Florida a Bird Watcher Should Look For
Great Horned Owl
Great Horned Owls are the most common form of Owl found in picture books. Semi-open wooded areas are their favorite. You will find them in various places all over Florida. They are very likely to show up in your backyard.
These Owls can be anywhere from 17 to 25 inches tall, which is rather large for an owl. They have a bold, and preposterous personality. They are not interested in hiding from their prey, they will attack their food with confidence. This means it is very easy to spot them in Florida. However, you should maintain some distance from them as they are not friendly.
They are Florida’s largest owl species. You can identify them by their tufts alone. It is because of those tufts that they are named the Great Horned Owl. Their tufts practically look like horns.
Goose, fish, mice, small birds, and many other small animals are all prey to this species. They are not picky about their food source. Nocturnal by nature, this species wanders around at night. If you want to spot them, nighttime is the best time for you to go out.
Barn Owls are common in 48 states; however, they are Florida’s least familiar species of Owl. Regardless of the time of year that you visit this state, you will have a good chance of spotting one.
Barn Owls have a buff-colored back contrasted by a white face, belly, chest, and underpart of their wings. Their face generally scares people away, but they are less dangerous than the Great Horned Owl.
Female Barn Owls have spots on their chests. These spots act as resistance against parasites. Depending on how many spots a female has, the more willing the male is to build the nest.
They are 12-15 inches in length. They get their name from commonly roosting in barns. At night, they look for rodents, preferably small in size. Their searching areas are in meadows and open fields. An owls hearing is known to be one of the best out of all animals. Barn Owls rely on their hearing to find their prey.
Another Florida resident is the Barred Owl. This owl is the easiest to owl to spot throughout the state. They are between 16 and 19 inches in length. They make a hooting sound that has a barking quality to it. Barred Owls eat rabbits, birds, and squirrels mostly. They observe their prey from a high elevation and strike when they get the chance.
Barred Owls live in the forest and near bodies of water. They have dark black eyes, a bald head, and no ear tufts to differentiate them from other owls. They are barred on their belly and chest, hence the name.
Snowy Owls are 20-25 inches in length, they are very big compared to other owls. They have a white plumage with
black spots all over their body. If you get to observe this bird, you are considered to be extremely lucky among bird watchers. They were spotted in Florida once in the past 10 years, they are not residents or regular migratory birds of this state.
Snowy Owls have been spotted one time in Florida. However, that one spotting was enough to earn them the title of owls in Florida. The actual chances of seeing the species in Florida are slim to none. Maybe it is a good thing, considering Snowy Owls aren’t friendly. They attack not only their prey but also any humans in the vicinity with their razor sharp talons.
Eastern Screech-Owls are 9 inches tall at most. They have huge heads and a dissapearing neck. They often hang around tree cavities while taking in the Florida heat. These owls love greenery, so you can find them in the woods or in the park.
They have a distinct whine that is rather screechy. Eastern Screech-Owls are night hunters, but sometimes they hang around at dawn and dusk. They will perch somewhere and wait for their prey to pass them, and then, they pounce on them.
Burrowing Owls are mainly spotted in Southern Florida. They are unlike most owls with their tall perches and they don’t fly around. Instead, they find burrows to nest in and walk aroung on the ground. They do this all during the day, not just at night like other owls.
Burrowing Owls have a flat head which is a very odd shape compared to other owls. They don’t make their own burrows, they use ones left behind by other burrowing animals. They line up their burrows with manure, which attracts insects, their choice of prey.
Short-eared Owls are the same size as a Crow. They only appear in Florida during the winter. They have yellow eyes and black rims. Short-eared Owls prefer hunting during the day. They make a circle on the ground by digging around and then use their feathers to line it up.
Short-eared Owls are not vocal. During courtship, you might hear some hoots and occasional barking if they feel that their nest is being threatened. This makes them harder to find, because sound isn’t a good to search for them with.
Spotting an owl in Florida is as easy as finding a semi-open field in the state. Anywhere you notice a bit of wood and greenery, that’s where Owls will be.
Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes
At the Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.
- Kids Bird Watching Monthly Subscription$10.00 / month
- Kid & Adult Bird Watching Starter Pack Subscription$10.00 / month and a $72.00 sign-up fee
- Kids Bird Watching Starter Pack Subscription$10.00 / month and a $19.00 sign-up fee
Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Owls
The most common types of bird watching binoculars for viewing Owls are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.