Scientists have currently uncovered 250 species of owls in the world.

Every continent in the world has owls except Antarctica.

Owls are raptors that are popular for their expressive faces and nocturnal habits.

They use their curved horns and sharp talons for hunting. 

However, not all owls are similar. They belong to the order Strigiformes order.

The order has two families, which include Tytonidae and Strigidae.

Owls with round-shaped faces are in the Strigidae family, while those with heart-shaped faces belong to Tytonidae.

This article will discuss the different types of owls, highlighting the major features that distinguish them. 


List of Owls

Some of the most common types of owls in the world include:

  • Horned owls 
  • Barn owls
  • True Owl
  • Northern white-faced owl 
  • Southern white-faced owl
  • Spectacled owl 
  • Oriental Bay Owl 
  • Eastern screech-owl 
  • Burrowing owl 
  • Boreal owl 
  • Snowy owl 
  • Ferruginous pygmy-owl 
  • Eurasian eagle-owl 
  • Great grey owl 
  • Elf owl 

1. Horned Owls

The horned owl is one of the largest houses in the world.

They are also known as the hoot or tiger owl.

It has distinguished you’re like tufts around head wings and a short week.

The colors of the horned owl feature mixed grey-brown color at the body, a white patch at the throat, and a reddish-brown face. 

However, the color tones vary from pale to sooty, depending on the region.

The horned owl is nocturnal, which means you can only spot them at night or in the evenings.

They usually live in South America, the Arctic, and other areas with temperate climates.

You can also find them in farmlands and the woods.

Horned owls have an incredible digestive system, just like other owls.

Sometimes, they eat their prey whole and later regurgitate the unwanted parts.

The horned owl feeds on raccoons, rabbits, squirrels, domestic birds, ducks, giant insects, and fish.

They have an average lifespan of 20 to 30 years. However, they could live up to 50 years.

2. Barn Owls

The barn owl is a small breed with short tails, a round head but no ear tufts.

Their night vision is incredible, and they can spot prey with a single sight.

There are many breeds of barn owls worldwide, and the largest ones are in North America.

Barn owls appear purely white at night as they have a white face, body, and underwings.

They also have grey upper wings, back, and top of the head.

Their eyes are dark with mixed buff. Barn owls live in barns, dense trees, and nest roots at cavities and other buildings. 

They usually hunt in open areas for small rodents and will fly low when hunting.

Barn owls usually feed on small birds, reptiles, insects, and small mammals.

The average life span is four years, but some can live up to 15 years.

3. True Owl

The true owl is a bird with a short tail and a round face.

They are unique among other owls because they move their head, not their eyes, when looking at things.

True owls have a tame appearance but take flight when people get close. 

Their color pattern of brown and white spots makes them hard to detect.

You can find true owls everywhere except in Antarctica. Most true owls prefer forests, deserts, marshlands, fields, and beaches.

They usually feed on insects, reptiles, small mammals, and some little birds.

The true owl willfully ingests their prey rather than biting or showing.

They can live for about 25 years.

4. Northern White-Faced Owl 

The northern white-faced owl is a short-tailed owl part of the Strigidae family, which has about 189 species in 25 genera.

They measure approximately 24-25 cm and weigh about 204 g.

The white owl species are common across Africa in areas like the Central African Republic, Benin, Guinea, and Ghana. 

Female northern white-faced owls are larger than males.

This species can fly silently as it attacks the prey.

It has large orange to red eyes, a white facial disc, and a black border surrounding the face.

It has a pale grey beak and gray-brown underpants.

It also has dusky brown toes and blackish claws. 

Like most owls, they hunt at night. The northern white-faced owls usually fly in pairs.

It lives in cavities, woodlands, savannas, and thornveld.

The northern white-faced owl feeds on small mammals, birds, and rodents like all types of owls.

5. Southern White-Faced Owl

Southern white-faced owl is a subspecies of the northern white-faced owl, but they are treated differently.

This species has a white face with a black border and a grey back. I

t has orange eyes with black edges.

Their ear tufts are prominent, and they have grey upper wings underparts of a lighter hue.

They usually make a quick “Hu” note followed by a longer “How” note.

It has a more extended hearing and sound range compared to the northern white-faced owl. 

The southern white-faced owl lives in forest edges, dry open woods, scattered groups of trees, and wooded areas near rivers.

You are less likely to find them in dense forests or treeless deserts.

The white owl species feed on scorpions, spider insects, small mammals, reptiles, and little birds.

They have a lifespan of about 30 years.

6. Spectacled Owl

These are medium to large-sized owls with a round head and no ear cuffs.

They have dark faces with white brows, which make up the spectacles.

The white color streaks between the eyes and cheeks give it a unique look. 

It measures 43 to 46 cm in length and weighs about 450 to 900 grams.

The spectacled owl has bright orange, yellow eyes, and a yellowish beak.

It has a white throat and a black chin. Moreover, it has a blackish-brown neck and head.

The chest has a dark brown color band, and the breast and belly are pale yellows.

It has creamy toes and wicked grey claws. 

The male’s voice is different from the female’s.

A female spectacled owl has a hot ice cream cone while a male’s call sounds like a hammer hitting a hollow tree.

They usually breed in the wet season and build nests in dense tree cavities.

Their habitat features dry forests, large trees, and scattered trees in an open area. 

These owls are common in Mexico, Central America, and North America.

They feed on caterpillars, insects, spiders, skunks, bats, mice, frogs, and jay-sized Birds. The spectacled owl can live up to 35 years. 

7. Oriental Bay Owl 

Scientists classify the Oriental as a barn owl, but it also has subspecies.

The Oriental Bay owl is common in SouthEast Asia. Its face has a heart shape with ear-like extensions.

The facial disc is whitish and features a chestnut brown color around the eyes. Its eyelids are white, and the forehead pictures of Pale brownish-grey color. 

These owls have a creamy yellow bill, chestnut tail, and crown.

The throat has a creamy color, and the other parts are yellowish Brown.

Its toes are also yellowish.

The Oriental Bay owl weighs about 255 to 308 g. Females are larger than males.

These owls have 47 fluted whistles and make 2 knots per second. 

The Oriental Bay owl prefers to live in foothills with an altitude of about 200 to 1000 m.

They also like submontane forest foliage grooves and dense Forest.

8. Eastern Screech-Owl 

This is a small bowl with a large head that takes up much of the neck space.

It has a short tail, rounded wings, and pointed ear tufts.

The owl measures about 16 to 25 cm in length and weighs about 121 to 244 g.

It has a reddish-brown or grey color. The body has a complex band design with spots.

It also has yellow eyes. 

Most watchers use sound to recognize these owls because the color makes it hard to spot them. Also, the fact that they are more active at night makes it even harder.

This owl lives in trees near water, woods, farm groves, woodlands, and shade trees. 

The Eastern screech owl feeds on giant insects, beetles, small rodents, crickets, mice, moths, Little Birds, lizards, spiders, frogs, crayfish, earthworms, and other tiny creatures.

They usually live for 8 to 14 years.

9. Burrowing Owl 

The burrowing owl is small with long legs, a round head, a short tail, and no ear tufts.

It weighs 140 to 240 grams and measures 19 to 28 cm long.

Females are usually larger than males. 

The burrowing owl is brown, and the upper part has some spots.

Its breast has white spots, and the underbelly features dark brown bars.

Their eyes are yellow, and the eyebrows and throat are white. Its wings and the underparts are yellow.

The burrowing owl is different from other owls because it’s not nocturnal at all.

They are active during the day and hunt close to the ground.

The burrowing owl likes to live in grasslands, open areas, deserts, agricultural fields, rangelands, airports, and other areas with low vegetation.

It is known as a burrow owl because it uses the nests of ground squirrels and prairie dogs.

The diet is similar to other houses and consists of insects, small mammals, reptiles, small birds, and amphibians.

Burrowing owls usually have a lifespan of about 6 to 8 years.

10. Boreal Owl 

The boreal owl is a small owl breed with a large head with a square shape and a short tail.

It has a stocky body but no prominent tuft.

The boreal owl has a wingspan of 50 to 62 cm. It can make straight and noiseless flights.

They have an asymmetrical ear-opening which helps them know exactly the direction a sound is coming from.

The owl weighs 93 to 215 and measures 21 to 28 cm and length.

It has a brown color and white spots at the back.

They have brown streaks and a grey-white face with yellow eyes.

The owl also has white spots on its head, which give it a crown appearance. 

Boreal owls have a unique habit of finding a new tree every day for hunting.

It makes a call known as winnowing. You can find owls in North America.

They usually hunt at night, but the northernmost part has short nights during summer.

Therefore, they hunt during the day in these areas. 

The boreal owl is not a migrating animal, but some move to the south in the autumn. They live in boreal forests, subalpine forests, and the high Rocky Mountains of the West in northern Minnesota. Their diet includes smaller birds, insects, small mammals, voles, and other invertebrates. Borrow owls are small, which makes them prey on different species of larger owls. They used to have a lifespan of 16 years before the larger owls preyed upon them. 

11. Snowy Owl 

The snowy owl is a large white owl in the family of true owls.

It is also known as an arctic owl or white owl.

Snowy owls have bulky bodies with thick featherings.

It weighs an average of 2kg and has a length of 73 cm.

The owl’s head is smooth and round with no ear tufts.

It is pure white with brown or black markings on the body and wings, which give it a salt and pepper look. Snowy owls like to sit near the ground in wide-open spaces.

You can find them in airport lands, agricultural fields, near-shore lines of lakes, and treeless arctic tundra.

They also fly low as they hunt. 

Snowy owls prefer lemmings, but they also eat moles, rats, mice, rabbits, raccoons, squirrels, and other birds.

Their lifespan in the wild is about ten years, but they can live for 25 to 30 years in captivity. 

12. Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl

The Ferruginous pygmy-owl is a small hole that measures 15 cm and has large feet and talons.

It has a round head with an elongated crown and no ear tufts.

The ferruginous pygmy owl weighs about 46 to 107 g and has a wing length of about 96 to 16 mm. 

It has black eye spots, yellow eyes, and white eyebrows.

The owner has a greenish-yellow and a white chest with brown streaks.

It has white underpants and white markings on the backside.

Ferruginous pygmy-owls have bold and aggressive behavior.

You can see them during the day, but it starts hunting near Dawn at dusk. 

This owl is usually vocal active at night.

The girl has a bell-like sound with equal notes and long series 20-30.

It can catch prey with a blink-of-an-eye thanks to rapid wing beats for a fast flight and powerful talons to grab the prey.

The owls like to live in forests with clear rings.

You can find them from North and South America to Uruguay, Northeast Argentina, and Buenos Aires. They are also common in Texas.

Ferruginous pygmy-owls usually feed on smaller birds, insects, and vertebras.

13. Eurasian Eagle-Owl 

This is an owl that is part of the eagle owl species.

They are common in Eurasia, thus the name Eurasian eagle owl.

It is also known as the European eagle owl. The owl is one of the largest owls and grows up to 1550 to 4200g and 58 to 71 cm in length.

Female Eurasian eagle-owls are significantly larger than males. 

It has a tawny face with black, brown edges at the frame of the face.

The owl has a black upper part and barred wings and tail.

Its underparts have a hued buff and a dark streak.

The owl also has orange-red eyes and a blackish bill. Its claws are blackish brown. 

These owls are active the entire night and roost during the day.

They stay in pairs on rocks or entries. The Eurasian eagle-owl loves to hunt in open spaces, but it can also hunt in forests.

They can catch prey and grab it at full flight.

Eurasian eagle-owls can live in warm deserts, forests, and rocky landscapes as long as the food is available and safe plastic. 

They usually feed on roe deer fawns, snakes, lizards, grouse, ducks, crows, crabs, small owls, foxes, rats, mice, hares, etc. In coastal areas, they feed on ducks and seabirds. The Eurasian eagle-owl can live up to 20 years in the wild and 60 years with adequate care.

14. Great Grey Owl 

The great grey owl is one of the tallest owl species.

They have long tails, a big head, and broad wings. These owls have dense feathers, which make them bulky. Females are larger than males.

The length is 140 to142 cm, and the average weight is 580 to 1900 g. 

They have a deep call with rhythmic whoos.

The great grey owl has a silver-grey appearance with brown streaking and a white-grey throat. The eyes are yellow and have an incredible shine.

It also has an x which forms next between the eyes and the yellow bill. 

These owls like to stay quiet and avoid any attention or areas with people.

They hunt by listening to the voice of the prey and quietly follow them before capturing them.

These owls usually feed on mice, voles, pocket gophers, weasels, shrews, frogs, and small birds. Their main diet is little rodents.

They can leave lie more than 27 years.

15. Elf Owl 

The elf owl is one of the smallest owls available and is about the size of a sparrow.

Its head is round with no ear tufts. The owl measures 6 inches in height, 14 inches of wingspan, and 12.5 to 14.5 cm long.

It is the lightest owl in the world with a weight of 40 grams. 

The owl is usually light brown with dark brown parts at the belly.

It also has yellow eyes and white feathers above the eyebrows.

The elf owl has excellent night vision and high-pitched sound.

They have a silent flight and can find their prey in total darkness.

Soft feathers on their wings help to muffle the wingbeats as it approaches the prey.

Their body color also helps them to camouflage and hide in plain sight.

They also use camouflage as a defense mechanism to hide from predators. 

Elf owls are common in the Sonoran desert region.

Moreover, they live in areas with a lot of cactus or near water.

These owls feed on beetles, scorpions, crickets, centipedes, and moths.

Elf owls in the wild can give 3 to 6 years, and those in captivity live for 6 to 10 years.


There are many more types and species of owls. Some of them include :

Northern pygmy owls, Northern saw-whet owls, Striped owls, Tawny fish owl, Spotted wool owls, Collared scops owls, Western screech owls, Short-eared owls, Verreaux eagle-owls, Australian masked owls, Spotted owls, Brown owls, Red owls, White owls, Tawny owls, Rare owls, and more.

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