long-eared owls

Types of Owls in California (with Pictures)

There are many different types of owls in California. Some people may be surprised to learn that there are actually 19 different owl species living in the state! In this blog post, we will explore the different types of owls that can be found in California, as well as their habits and habitats. We will also discuss how you can tell the difference between an owl and a hawk when you see one out in the wild. So if you’re interested in learning more about California’s owl population, keep reading!

The information came solely from trustworthy sources and was confirmed with an ornithologist.

Most Common Owls in California

Great-Gray Owl

Great Gray Owl

The Great Gray Owl is a large owl, with some specimens measuring over 27 inches in length. The bird has a rounded head with no ear tufts, and bright yellow eyes. Its plumage is mostly gray, but can also be brown or white in color.

The underparts of the bird are heavily streaked with black markings. Great Gray Owls have long, powerful wings and can fly up to speeds of 50 miles per hour.

The Great Gray Owl is found in North America, specifically in the western regions of Canada and the United States. The bird typically inhabits coniferous forests and woodlands. Great Gray Owls prey on small mammals such as rodents, rabbits, and weasels.

The bird will also eat birds, reptiles, and insects on occasion. Great Gray Owls typically hunt at night, using their excellent hearing to locate their prey.

flammulated owl

Flammulated Owl

The Flammulated Owl is a small owl with large eyes and no ear tufts. It is mottled brown above and whitish below, with brown streaks on its throat and breast. This owl ranges from about 15-20 cm in length and 30-50 grams in weight.

The Flammulated Owl occurs in the western United States and Mexico. In California, it is found in the Sierra Nevada and coastal mountain ranges.

The Flammulated Owl is a nocturnal bird, meaning it is most active at night. It hunts insects and other small prey items such as mice and lizards. This owl roosts during the day in trees, often close to the trunk. It nests in tree cavities, often using old woodpecker holes.

The best time to see a Flammulated Owl is at dawn or dusk, when it is active. However, they can also be seen during the day if you know where to look. Look for this owl in dense forests near water sources such as streams or lakes.

Northern-Pygmy Owls

Northern Pygmy Owl

The Northern Pygmy Owl is a small owl with large, round eyes and no ear tufts. It has a brown back with white spots, and a whitish underside with heavy brown streaking.

The head is dark brown with white streaks, and the facial disk is pale with a black border. This owl gets its name from the Greek word for “little owl”.

These owls are found in forests and woodlands across North America. In California, they are most common in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Northern Pygmy Owls eat mostly small mammals and birds.

They hunt by perching on a high branch and watching for prey below. When they see something, they swoop down and snatch it up with their talons.

If you’re lucky enough to see a Northern Pygmy Owl, you might hear it first. These owls make a loud “hoo hoo hoo” sound, which is how they got their other name, the “whooing owl”.

You might also see them flying during the day, which is unusual for owls. When they are hunting, they fly low and slow over the ground, looking for prey.

If you live in an area where Northern Pygmy Owls are found, you can help them by putting up a nesting box. These owls will use man-made nest boxes if they are available.

You can also help by keeping your cat indoors, as cats are one of the main predators of these owls. By doing your part, you can help keep these amazing animals around for future generations to enjoy.

long-eared owl

Long-eared Owl

The Long-eared Owl is a medium sized owl with long ear tufts. The body is brown and streaked with white. The breast is heavily mottled with dark brown. The eyes are yellowish orange. The beak and feet are black.

These owls hunt at night, preying on small mammals such as mice, voles and shrews. They nest in tree cavities, often using the old nests of other birds such as crows and hawks. Long-eared Owls are found in woodlands across North America. In California, they are most common in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

These owls are relatively easy to spot due to their distinctive ear tufts. They are most often seen perched on a branch or post, watching for prey. When hunting, they will swoop down silently to capture their victim. Long-eared Owls are not particularly vocal, but they do make a variety of hooting and screeching sounds.

barred owl

Barred Owl

The barred owl is a relatively large owl. It has a round head with no ear tufts, and yellow eyes. The upperparts are brown with white bars, while the underparts are pale with heavy brown streaks. The wings and tail are also heavily streaked. Barred owls are found in wooded areas in much of North America.

Barred owls are mostly nocturnal, but can also be seen hunting at dawn and dusk. They hunt by perching in a tree and watching for prey below. When they see an animal, they will swoop down and grab it with their talons.

Barred owls typically eat small mammals such as mice, voles, and squirrels. They will also eat birds, reptiles, and insects.

Barred owls are monogamous, meaning that they mate for life. The female lays two to three eggs in a nest made of sticks. Both the male and female help to incubate the eggs, which hatch after about 28 days.

The young owls stay in the nest for about six weeks before learning to fly. Once they can fly, they leave their parents and strike out on their own.

burrowing owls

Burrowing Owls

Burrowing owls are small, long-legged owls with a round head and no ear tufts. They range in size from about ten to fourteen inches tall and have a wingspan of twenty-four to thirty inches. Females are usually larger than males.

These owls get their name from their habit of nesting and roosting in burrows, which they may dig themselves or use those abandoned by other animals such as prairie dogs, badgers, and ground squirrels. Burrowing owls are found in North and South America.

In the United States, they are most common in the western states, where they inhabit grasslands, deserts, and open areas with scattered trees or bushes.

Burrowing owls are relatively quiet birds, but they can make a variety of sounds including hoots, barks, clicks, and screams. When threatened or agitated, they may hiss and spit like a snake. Their diet consists mainly of small mammals such as voles, mice, and shrews. They will also eat reptiles, insects, and small birds.

Burrowing owls are generally active during the day, although they may also hunt at night. They typically perch on the ground or on a low branch, from which they watch for prey. When hunting, they may hover in the air or drop down to the ground to capture their prey.

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl

The Great Horned Owl is a large owl with prominent ear tufts. It has a large head and yellow eyes. The body is dark brown with white spots. The wings are long and broad. The tail is short and square.

Great Horned Owls are found in woods, forests, and urban areas. They nest in trees, on cliffs, and in caves. They hunt at night for small mammals, birds, and reptiles.

Great Horned Owls are silent hunters. They use their sharp claws and beak to kill their prey. They can also fly silently through the air to surprise their prey.

If you see a Great Horned Owl, you should know that it is a fierce and powerful predator. But you should also know that it is a beautiful bird that is an important part of the ecosystem.

Great Horned Owls are found throughout North and South America. They are most common in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. But they can also be found in Central and South America, as well as in the Caribbean.

If you live in an area where Great Horned Owls are found, you should take steps to protect your property and your pets. These owls can be dangerous to humans and animals if they feel threatened. But if you give them space, they will usually leave you alone.

elf owl

Elf. Owl

The Elf. Owl is a small owl with large eyes. It is found in the southwestern United States and Mexico. The Elf. Owl has a grayish-brown body with white spots on its belly. Its head is brown with white streaks. The Elf. Owl lives in dry, open areas such as deserts and grasslands. It preys on small mammals and insects. The Elf. Owl is nocturnal, meaning it is active at night. During the day, it roosts in trees or shrubs.

When it is roosting, the Elf. Owl wraps its body around a branch and tucks its head under its wing.

The Elf. Owl is a small owl with large eyes. It is found in the southwestern United States and Mexico. The Elf. Owl has a grayish-brown body with white spots on its belly. Its head is brown with white streaks. The Elf. Owl lives in dry, open areas such as deserts and grasslands. It preys on small mammals and insects. The Elf. Owl is nocturnal, meaning it is active at night. During the day, it roosts in trees or shrubs.

Short-eared Owls

Related post: Types of Owls in Florida

Short-eared Owls

Short-eared owls are found in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. They get their name from their short ear tufts, which are barely visible on their heads. These owls are medium-sized, with round heads and no ear tufts.

Their eyes are yellow or orange, and they have dark streaks on their faces. Short-eared owls are brown or gray, with white spots on their wings. They have long legs and feet, and their toes are covered in feathers.

Short-eared owls hunt during the day or night. They eat small mammals, such as mice and voles. These owls live in open areas, such as fields, meadows, and marshes.

They nest on the ground, in a small depression. Short-eared owls are migratory birds, and they travel to southern areas during the winter.

If you see a short-eared owl in California, it is most likely to be found in the northern part of the state. These owls are not often seen in urban areas. If you see one, it is likely to be flying low over the ground, hunting for its next meal. Short-eared owls are beautiful birds, and it is a treat to see one in the wild.

Western-Screech Owl

Western Screech-Owl

The Western Screech-Owl is a small owl with large, ear-tufts. It has a round head and no facial disk. The upperparts are grayish brown, while the underparts are pale with heavy streaking. There is considerable variation in plumage among individuals and between populations.

Birds from the Great Basin region tend to be more heavily streaked than those from the Pacific Coast. This owl also has two color morphs, red and gray. The red morph is more common in the east, while the gray morph is found along the west coast.

The Western Screech-Owl is a nocturnal bird that hunts primarily from perches. It will also occasionally hunt from the ground or in flight. This owl typically preys on small mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects.

The Western Screech-Owl is a cavity nester. It will often use old woodpecker holes, nesting boxes, or other cavities in trees. The female will lay between two and eight eggs. Both parents help to incubate the eggs and care for the young.

This owl is a relatively sedentary bird, with most individuals staying within a small home range throughout their lives. Some dispersal does occur, however, particularly among young birds. The Western Screech-Owl typically has a lifespan of between four and seven years.

The Western Screech-Owl is a fairly common bird, with a large range that extends across much of North America. The population is thought to be stable, and this owl is not currently considered to be at risk.

American Barn Owls

American Barn Owl

The American Barn Owl is a relatively large owl with a body length of about 15 inches. The wingspan is between 36 and 39 inches. It has a white face with dark eyes and a black beak. The upperparts are light brown with dark streaks, while the underparts are mostly white. The legs and feet are covered in feathers.

The American Barn Owl is found in a variety of habitats, including forests, grasslands, and agricultural areas. It typically nests in trees, but may also nest in cliffs or buildings. The female lays between two and eight eggs. The young hatch after about 30 days and fledge at six to seven weeks of age.

American Barn Owls are primarily nocturnal, but may be active during the day. They hunt for small mammals, such as rodents and rabbits. The owls locate their prey by listening for sounds with their keen hearing. When hunting, they typically perch on a branch or pole and watch for movement before swooping down to capture their prey.

The American Barn Owl is a common owl in California. It can be found in most of the state, except for the deserts in the southeastern part of the state. If you are lucky enough to see one, you will likely hear its distinctive call first.

The call is a series of harsh screeches that sound like “shree-shree-shree.” American Barn Owls are relatively easy to spot, thanks to their large size and white facial disc. If you see one, you may also see it hunting during the day.

Northern Saw-Whet Owl

Northern Saw-whet Owl

The Northern Saw-whet Owl is a very small owl, measuring only about eight inches in length. It has a round head with no ear tufts, and bright yellow eyes. The body is brown with white spots, and the underside is pale with heavy streaks. The wings are short and rounded, and the tail is square.

This owl is found in the northern forests of North America, from Alaska and Canada down to northern California. It nests in tree cavities or nest boxes, and will also use old crow nests. The Northern Saw-whet Owl is mostly active at night, hunting for small mammals such as mice and voles. During the day, it roosts in a hidden location, such as a tree cavity or dense foliage.

snowy owl

Snowy Owl

The Snowy Owl is a large owl of the typical owl family. Snowy Owls are native to Arctic regions in North America and Eurasia. They are mostly white with some brown bars or spots, and have a round head with yellow eyes.

Male Snowy Owls tend to be all white, while females usually have more spotting. These birds nest on the ground, building a scrape on top of a mound of dirt or rocks.

Snowy Owls hunt during the day and night. They eat mostly lemmings and other small rodents, but will also take rabbits, weasels, and birds up to the size of ducks. To find their prey, they either search from a perch or by flying low over the ground. When they spot their quarry, they pounce on it with powerful talons.

Although Snowy Owls are generally found in the Arctic tundra, they will sometimes venture south during irruptions. An irruption is when the population of an animal increases dramatically and individuals spread out over a much larger area in search of food.

This can happen when the Snowy Owl’s main prey, lemmings, experience a population boom followed by a bust. When this happens, the owls must look elsewhere for food, which sometimes brings them into southern Canada and the northern United States.

barn owl

Barn Owl

Barn owls are beautiful, graceful birds with heart-shaped faces. They are excellent hunters and can take down prey much larger than themselves. Barn owls live in a variety of habitats, including forests, deserts, and even cities. In California, barn owls are most commonly found in the Central Valley and Sierra Nevada mountains.

These owls are nocturnal, meaning they are most active at night. During the day, they roost in trees or on ledges. Barn owls typically mate for life and will use the same nesting site year after year. These birds typically lay between two and six eggs per clutch (a group of eggs laid at one time).

If you’re lucky enough to see a barn owl in the wild, you’ll likely be impressed by its hunting skills. These owls can take down prey much larger than themselves, thanks to their sharp claws and powerful talons.

Barn owls typically hunt small mammals, such as rodents or rabbits. When hunting, they use their excellent hearing to locate prey. barn owls are also known to eat reptiles, amphibians, and even other birds.

If you live in an area where barn owls are found, you can attract them to your property by putting up a nest box. Barn owls will also use man-made structures, such as buildings or bridges, for nesting.

How do you attract owls in Southern California?

One way to attract owls to your property in Southern California is by putting up a nest box. Barn owls will also use man-made structures, such as buildings or bridges, for nesting. You can also try to attract smaller owls, such as the Northern Saw-whet Owl, by creating habitat that is suitable for them.

This includes providing nesting sites and perches, as well as areas of dense vegetation for them to hide in during the day. If you live in an area where barn owls are found, you can also try to attract them by hunting small mammals, such as rodents or rabbits. When hunting, they use their excellent hearing to locate prey.

Barn owls are also known to eat reptiles, amphibians, and even other birds. By providing a variety of food sources, you may be able to attract a barn owl to your property.

What does it mean when you see an owl?

There are many different interpretations to what it means when you see an owl. Some people believe that it is a sign of good luck, while others believe that it is a sign of bad news.

In some cultures, owls are seen as messengers of death. However, in most cases, seeing an owl is simply a sign that you should be aware of your surroundings.

What owls live in Southern California?

There are a few different types of owls that live in Southern California, including the Barn Owl and the Snowy Owl. The Barn Owl is most commonly found in the Central Valley and Sierra Nevada mountains, while the Snowy Owl is typically found in the Arctic tundra. However, during irruptions (when the population of an animal decreases dramatically and individuals spread out over a much larger area in search of food), the Snowy Owl may be found in southern Canada and the northern United States.

What are the most common owls in California?

The most common owls in California are the Barn Owl and the Snowy Owl. The Barn Owl is most commonly found in the Central Valley and Sierra Nevada mountains, while the Snowy Owl is typically found in the Arctic tundra.

However, during irruptions (when the population of an animal decreases dramatically and individuals spread out over a much larger area in search of food), the Snowy Owl may be found in southern Canada and the northern United States.