Common Florida Owls By: Wes Tallyn

There are several Owl species that live in Florida or show up on occasion during the Winter migration; but, the three most common Owls in Florida are the Great Horned Owl, Barred Owl and Eastern Screech-Owl.

Great Horned Owls are one of the most recognizable Owl species in North America.   They have feathers on their head that are the shape of ears or horns.  They grow to about 25 inches and are the largest of the Florida Owl species.  Great Horned Owls feed primarily on rodents that they catch at night, hunting with their stellar vision and silent wingbeats.  I, typically, see them sitting in mature pine trees, which is also one of their favorite trees to nest in during the Winter.

Barred Owls are the other large Owl species that is common to Florida.   They stand a bit smaller than the Great Horned Owl at about 20 inches tall.   They are very vocal at night, with a bunch of different calls; but, their most common call sounds like they’re saying “who cooks for you.”   The head of the Barred Owl is more rounded on top and the face has a circular pattern of feathers.   Barred Owls feed on rodents at night, as well, but they will also catch birds.

The third common species here is the Eastern Screech-Owl.   Eastern Screech-Owls are very small, standing at about 10 inches tall.  They nest in tree cavities or in trees with matted vegetation like palms.   They are often heard at night in Florida neighborhoods as they set up territories or call to mates.   They feed on insects mostly, and they will help control pests like roaches and crickets on your property.

Owls are everywhere in Florida, but they don’t make it easy to find them with their nocturnal lifestyle and secretive nature during the day.   See if you can identify all three in your neighborhood today!