Did you know that there are sixteen different types of owls in Michigan? These birds of prey can be found in various habitats across the state, from forests and fields to wetlands and urban areas. While all sixteen species are interesting in their own way, some are more commonly seen than others. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at five of the most common types of owls found in Michigan.
Only trustworthy sources and/or an Ornithologist were used to gather this data.
Most Common Owls in Michigan
Snowy Owl Bubo scandiacus
The snowy owl is a large, white owl of the family Strigidae. Snowy owls are native to Arctic regions in North America and Eurasia. They are highly efficient predators and hunt a variety of prey.
Snowy owls are easily recognizable due to their size and plumage. Adult males are almost entirely white, while females and juveniles have more flecks of black plumage. Both sexes have yellow eyes and black beaks. Snowy owls are one of the heaviest owl species, with males averaging between
Snowy owls are largely nocturnal hunters, although they may also hunt during the day. Their diet consists mostly of small mammals such as voles, lemmings, and mice. When prey is scarce, they may also eat birds, reptiles, and insects.
Snowy owls are relatively silent compared to other owl species. The most common call is a loud “hoot”, although females may also give a soft “coo”.
Long-eared Owl Asio otus
Appearance: The long-eared owl is a medium-sized owl with yellow eyes and brownish-gray feathers. Its ears are long and pointy, and its head is round. It has a wingspan of up to four feet.
Behavior: Long-eared owls are nocturnal predators. They hunt by perching on a branch and scanning the ground for prey. When they see an animal, they swoop down and grab it with their sharp talons. They eat small mammals such as mice, voles, and shrews.
Habitat: Long-eared owls live in forests, woodlands, and fields. They nest in tree cavities or on ledges. In winter, they sometimes roost in large groups in trees.
Range: Long-eared owls are found across North America, Europe, and Asia. In Michigan, they can be found in the southern and western parts of the state.
Great Horned Owl
The Great Horned Owl is a large owl with prominent ear tufts. It is a powerful bird of prey with strong talons and a large beak. The Great Horned Owl is found throughout North America. In Michigan, they are most often found in woodlands and forests.
Great Horned Owls are noctaurnal predators. They hunt small mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Great Horned Owls are also known to eat fish. In Michigan, their diet consists mostly of voles and mice.
Great Horned Owls are generally solitary birds. However, during the breeding season, they form pairs and nests. Nests are usually located in trees. Great Horned Owls typically lay two to three eggs per clutch.
If you see Great Horned Owls in Michigan, it is likely that the birds are hunting. These owls are most active at night, but they may also be seen during the day. If you see a Great Horned Owl during the day, it is probably because the bird is nesting or roosting. Great Horned Owls are not typically aggressive towards humans, but they will defend their nests if necessary.
American Barn Owl
If you live in Michigan, you may be lucky enough to spot an American Barn Owl. These beautiful birds are relatively common in the state, and can be found in a variety of habitats. Here are some tips on how to identify them and their behavior:
American Barn Owls are large owls, with a wingspan of up to four feet. They have a distinctive white face, with dark eyes. Their bodies are brown and white, with long legs.
These owls are mostly active at night, so you’re more likely to see them after sunset. However, they will sometimes hunt during the day if there is good weather and plenty of prey available. American Barn Owls mostly eat small mammals, such as voles and mice.
If you see an American Barn Owl, you’re likely to hear a loud screeching sound. These owls make a variety of vocalizations, but the most common is a series of three to five screams. They also make clicking and hissing sounds.
Eastern Screech Owls Megascops asios
Identifying characteristics :
The Eastern Screech Owl is a small owl, measuring only about nine inches in length. Its body is broad and compact, with a large head and round, ear-tufts. It has bright yellow eyes and a black beak.
The upperparts of the owl are gray or brown, while the underparts are white with heavy streaks. There are two color morphs of the Eastern Screech Owl – red and gray.
The red morph is more common in the southern part of the owl’s range, while the gray morph is more common in the northern part.
The Eastern Screech Owl is a nocturnal bird, meaning that it is most active at night. It roosts during the day, usually in a tree cavity or nest box. This owl is a silent flier, and can be difficult to spot due to its camouflage coloring.
The Eastern Screech Owl hunts by sitting on a perch and watching for prey. It will also sometimes fly low over the ground in search of food. This owl eats mostly small mammals and insects, but will also take birds, reptiles, and amphibians.
The Eastern Screech Owl is a monogamous bird, meaning that it mates with only one other owl. During breeding season, the male will perform a “song flight” in order to attract a mate. This owl nests in tree cavities, and will often use man-made nest boxes.
The female Eastern Screech Owl lays two to six eggs, which she incubates for about three weeks. The young owls fledge (leave the nest) at about seven weeks old.
Northern Saw-wheat Owl Aegolius acadicus
The Northern Saw-whet Owl is a small owl. Adults are about 18-20 cm (about seven to eight inches) in length and weigh only 113-142 grams (about four to five ounces). They have large, round heads with no ear tufts. Their upperparts are brown or gray with white spots, and their underparts are white with brown streaks.
They have a black beak, yellow eyes, and long legs that are covered in feathers all the way down to their toes. Northern Saw-whet Owls are one of the smallest owls in North America.
Northern Saw-whet Owls are found in forests across Canada and the northern United States. In Michigan, they are most often found in coniferous forests near the Great Lakes.
These owls hunt at night, using their sharp claws and beaks to kill small mammals such as mice and voles. They will also eat birds, reptiles, and insects. Northern Saw-whet Owls are solitary birds that mate for life. Females lay three to eight eggs in a nest made of sticks and leaves.
The male will help to incubate the eggs and care for the young owls once they hatch. These owls are active at night, but can sometimes be seen during the day perched in a tree or hunting for food.
Barred Owl Strix varia
The barred owl is a medium-sized owl with a round head and no ear tufts. It has yellow eyes and a black beak. The upperparts are gray with black bars, and the underparts are white with black streaks. The wings are long and rounded. The tail is short and squared at the end.
Barred owls are found in wooded areas across North America. In Michigan, they are most common in the southern and western parts of the state. These owls prefer to nest in trees, but will also use man-made structures such as nest boxes.
Barred owls are active at night, and can often be heard calling to each other in the night. Their call is a repetitive hooting sound that has been described as “who-cooks-for-you, who-cooks-for-you-all”.
Barred owls eat small mammals such as mice, voles, and squirrels. They will also eat birds, reptiles, and insects. These owls hunt by perching in a tree and watching for their prey below. When they see an animal, they will swoop down and grab it with their sharp talons.
Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus
The Short-eared Owl is a medium-sized owl with large, rounded head and no ear tufts. It has yellow eyes and a black beak. The upperparts are brown with white spots, while the underparts are pale with dark streaks.
The wings are long and narrow, and the tail is short. Females and juveniles are similar in appearance to males.
Short-eared Owls are found in open habitats such as fields, marshes, and tundra. They nest on the ground, often using abandoned mammal burrows.
These owls hunt during the day and at night, preying on small mammals and birds. When hunting, they perch on a high vantage point and then swoop down on their prey.
Short-eared Owls are found throughout Michigan during the breeding season. They typically arrive in April and depart by September. During the winter, some birds may remain in the state, but most move south to find food.
These owls can be seen hunting during the day or at night. If you see one, be sure to watch it for a while – you may be treated to an aerial display as the owl hunts for its next meal!
Great Gray Owl Strix nebulosa
The Great Gray Owl is a large owl, measuring 28-33 inches in length with a 56-61 inch wingspan. It has prominent ear tufts, and yellow eyes surrounded by a dark gray facial disk.
The upper parts of the owl are gray with white streaks, while the underparts are pale gray with brown streaks. This owl is usually silent, but when it does call, it gives a low-pitched hoot.
Great Gray Owls are found in northern forests across North America. In Michigan, they can be found in the Upper Peninsula, particularly in the area around Seney National Wildlife Refuge.
These owls typically nest in tree cavities or on platforms, and lay between two and six eggs.
Great Gray Owls primarily hunt small mammals such as mice and voles. They will also eat birds, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates.
These owls typically hunt from a perch, but may also hunt by flying low over the ground or snow in search of prey.
Northern Hawk Owl Surnia ulula
The northern hawk owl is a medium sized owl. It has a round head with no ear tufts. The plumage is mostly grey with some brown and white markings on the face and breast. There are also dark bars on the wings and tail. The eyes are yellow and the bill is black.
Northern hawk owls hunt during the day and perch on high lookout posts where they scan the ground for prey. They eat mostly small mammals such as voles, lemmings, and shrews.
Northern hawk owls are found in northern forests of North America and Eurasia. In Michigan, they can be found in the Upper Peninsula.
Boreal Owl Aegolius funereus
The Boreal Owl is a small to medium-sized owl with large, prominent ear tufts. It has yellow eyes and a black beak. The upperparts of the Boreal Owl are brownish-gray with white streaks.
The underparts are whitish with brown streaks. This owl occurs in boreal forests of North America.
The Boreal Owl is a nocturnal owl. It hunts small mammals, such as mice and voles. The Boreal Owl nests in tree cavities. This owl typically lays three to six eggs.
The Boreal Owl is threatened by habitat loss and degradation. This owl requires large tracts of undisturbed forest for breeding and foraging. Boreal Owls are also affected by pesticides, which can poison the small mammals that they eat.
You can help this owl by supporting conservation efforts to protect its habitat.
What owls are native to Southeast Michigan?
Short-eared Owls, Great Gray Owls, Northern Hawk Owls, and Boreal Owls are all native to Southeast Michigan. These owls can be found in a variety of habitats throughout the state.
How do you attract owls in Michigan?
Owls are attracted to areas with dense vegetation and a good food source. You can attract owls to your property by creating a habitat that meets their needs.
Plant native trees and shrubs to provide cover for small mammals, which will in turn attract owls looking for a meal. Be sure to leave some dead trees on your property, as these provide roosting and nesting sites for owls. You can also install artificial nest boxes to provide a home for owls.
What owl species live in Michigan?
There are a variety of owl species that live in Michigan, including the Great Gray Owl, Northern Hawk Owl, and Boreal Owl. These owls can be found in a variety of habitats throughout the state.
What’s the most common owl in Michigan?
The most common owls in Michigan are the Great Gray Owl. This owl can be found in the northern forests of the state. Great Gray Owls hunt small mammals, such as mice and voles.