6 Florida Owl Species: Discovering Their Unique Features & Locating Them In The Region

Yellow and brown owl spreading its wings

Last Updated: May 1, 2021

Do you also dislike those people who call others “an owl” jokingly in a demeaning manner? I cannot even begin to describe my annoyance at this silly habit. 

Basic?

As basic as this bird seems to be, it actually is not. Thorough analysis about owls in Florida allow us to discover the intricate aspects of the species and how they’re way smarter than all of us combined. 

Does the term adorable equate to an owl for you? In that case, this insightful article detailing Florida owls’ identification is like a slice of tender meat for you.

Let’s get started with that, now. 

Different Types Of Big Owls In Florida

1. Great Horned Owl

owl with long ears and yellow eyes

Easily spotted across different habitats in Florida, this particular owl fits one's imagination due to its physical attributes. 

Enormous and intense are its key features, not to forget the daunting eyes.

The average great horned owl is between 18 to 25 inches tall and weighs between 2 to 5.5 pounds, with a massive wingspan going up to 8.4 feet.

They prefer wooded environments such as parks or countryside, but they can easily live elsewhere too, like most Central Florida owls.  

Their diet is quite way diverse for a North American raptor. It includes insects, birds, mammal species like rodents and raccoons. 

With patterns like a tiger, wide yellow eyes, and a rusty face, anybody can recognize it in broad daylight. However, difficult to spot at night as they hide among the tree branches.


2. Barred Owl

Gray Barred owl

A round innocent face, yellow pointed peak, and large dark black eyes are the typical features of this commonly found owl in Florida. 

They are known to be as curious as Dora the Explorer. They observe you till you manage to escape the scene.

Owls in North Florida, especially in the wild areas, majorly consist of barred owls. The average barred owl is about 21 inches tall and has a wingspan of 43 inches.

Meat, meat, and meat is a simple way to describe their diet. They feed on all kinds of insects, mice, birds, sea creatures, rabbits, and the list goes on.

Remember that deep and loud owl hoot in horror movies? It belongs to none other than Barred owls. 

As the name suggests, its body is covered in bared light and dark horizontal lines making a jumbled wire-like mark around the neck. You will recognize them instantly, as they do not have ear tufts.


3. Barn Owl

White and orange brown owl

A barn owl is yet another one of the owls native to Florida and is popular for its heart-shaped face. Not to be biased, but their appearance makes me fall for them over and over again! 

Other features include a white front, contrasting brown back with dark patches all over. The average barn owl is about a foot tall and weighs about a pound.

They feed on rodents, mice, rats, and the like. They are habitual of swallowing an entire prey at once and later spit out the pellets.

You’d be wondering that the heart-shaped face is just an add-on. Here’s an interesting fact about the shape: it aids in excellent hearing capability.

They're able to hunt their prey through the sounds, even if the sound is too low. Yes, you heard that right (or read?). 

Are there owls in Florida that do not hoot? 

Yes! It’s a barn owl. It has its own distinct voice. Observers reveal that male barn owls clap with their wings to charm female barn owls. Can they BE any more adorable? 

Sad part:

The barn owl is an endangered species. Reason? Loss of natural habitat. About time we conserve habitat for them.


Small Owls In Florida

4. Eastern Screech Owl

small blue and gray owl

A short and stocky body structure, accompanied by the absence of a neck makes them one of a kind. Eastern screech owls have either a grey body or red, though the latter is a rare shade.

It is about 6 to 10 inches tall and weighs between 4 to 9 ounces, with a tiny average wingspan of 21 inches.

This lot of human-friendly owls in Florida are found everywhere, be it a suburb or a neighborhood park. However, they avoid places where large owls reside.

Florida owl species have at least one interesting aspect. This one is not an exception, as it owns "fake" ear-tufts. Fake, because the tufts for them is like an outer tool to use as they like, such as for communication.

As the name suggests, their voice box is screechy and usually used to its best advantage to scare off the predators.


5. Burrowing Owl

small brown burrowing owl

Neon yellow eyes that shine bright at night, snow-like eyebrows, and long legs define a burrowing owl. Its body, especially the wings, is dark brown, with the front being some shades lighter. A white pattern covers the body. 

Be it any season, burrowing owls are found year-round in different regions of Florida. You will find them both in lush green land or barren desert landscape.

It is about 10 inches tall and weighs about six ounces, with a tiny average wingspan of 22 inches.

They hunt during the day and eat small mammals, reptiles, insects, and even young Burrowing owls if nothing else is available.

The name “burrow” is inspired by their place of residence, i.e., underground burrows. They have long legs to aid them to nest underground with their clever method of attracting prey. They cover the burrows with animal waste to trap the target. Poor dung beetle wrongly tempted!


6. Short-Eared Owl

Brown and white owl with short ears

A mid-sized body with deep and soft brown color and white splashes make up this type of owl in Florida. It looks intimidating because it wants to. 

It only shows its false ears when it wants to spread fear among the competitors.

It is about 15 inches tall and weighs between 8 to 17 ounces, with an average wingspan of 36 inches.

Though this one likes to migrate, it is definitely a part of the South Florida owls. They change places based on the weather and their breeding needs. 

Go to an open field such as an airport at dawn or dusk to spot them. Give them all kinds of birds, rodents, and voles, and they will be the happiest birds in the entire world. 

They cover the eggs with their manure to trick the predators with the foul smell. See? I informed you in the beginning, they are way too smart! 

Frequently Asked Questions About The Owls Of Florida

How Do You Attract Owls In Florida?

Floridians use several techniques to attract these intriguing creatures to their homes. 

These include nesting boxes (hollow cavities in trees to help with nesting) and birdbaths, to create a homey environment for the birds. 

Generally, owls in Florida are attracted to habitats featuring outgrown bushes, widespread forestation and of course, appropriate weather!

Don’t worry about not being able to spot one though; some owls, like the Eastern Screech-owl, love to live among humans. Just the streetlamps are enough of an attraction for them!

If you're interested in building your own nesting boxes, here's a guide to help you how to choose the best design:

Do Owls In Florida Attack Humans?

Owls usually don’t attack humans unless they’re in an aggressive mood, which is a rare sight. However, it’s best to be varied: Don’t make the mistake of provoking them if you see them nearby!

It’s best to fulfill your curiosity from a distance, otherwise, they may become defensive, as in the Jacksonville owl attacks. It’s best to follow the advice of your local wildlife agency when approaching these birds.

It’s A Wrap!

Florida owl species are incredibly diverse, and it is a permanent home to many of them. Each one of them has a unique and interesting method of luring the target, but one thing remains common among these owl species; they are super adorable and very interesting to see!

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