barred owl

Types of Owls in North Carolina (with Pictures)

Only trustworthy sources were used, and the information was double-checked with an ornithologist.

This state is home to many different types of owls, including the barred owl, the great horned owl, and the eastern screech owl. Each type of owl has its own unique characteristics and habits. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at some of the most common types of owls found in North Carolina. We’ll also discuss some tips for spotting these elusive creatures in the wild. So if you’re ready to learn more about North Carolina’s fascinating owl population, keep reading!

Most Common Owls in NC

Barred Owl

Barred Owls

The Barred Owl is a large owl with a round head and no ear tufts. It has dark eyes and a yellow bill. The upperparts are grayish-brown, and the underparts are pale with heavy streaks. The legs and feet are covered in feathers.

The Barred Owl is found in wooded areas across North America. It is a nocturnal bird, so it is most active at night. During the day, it roosts in trees or on branches. It hunts for small mammals, birds, and reptiles.

If you see a Barred Owl, you can identify it by its call. It sounds like “who-cooks-for-you, who-cooks-for-you-all.” You can also identify it by its behavior. It often bobs its head and turns its head from side to side.

great horned owl

Great Horned Owls

Great Horned Owls are one of the most common owls in North America, and they can be found in nearly every type of habitat. In North Carolina, they are most often found in woodlands, but they can also be found in swamps, marshes, and even urban areas.

Great Horned Owls are large owls, with a wingspan of up to five feet. They are brown and white, with heavy barring on their chest and belly. They have large, rounded heads with prominent ear tufts. Their eyes are yellow-orange, and they have a black beak.

Great Horned Owls are powerful hunters, and they can take down prey much larger than themselves. They will eat just about anything, but their favorite foods are rabbits and squirrels.

You can often hear Great Horned Owls before you see them. They make a deep, hooting sound that echoes through the woods. If you hear an owl hooting in the daytime, it is probably a Great Horned Owl.

eastern screech owl

Eastern Screech Owl

The Eastern Screech Owl is a small owl that is found in North America. These owls are nocturnal, meaning they are most active at night.

Screech owls get their name from their call, which is a loud, piercing screech. They also make other sounds, including trills, whinnies, and chuckles.

The Eastern Screech Owl is a small owl with large, round head. They have big eyes that are almost as large as their brain. The pupils of their eyes open very wide in order to see better at night.

Screech owls are gray or brown in color with streaks of color on their chest. They have a “false eye” on the back of their head. This is a dark spot that looks like an eye. It fools predators into thinking the owl is watching them, even when it is not.

Eastern Screech Owls live in woodlands, forests, and urban areas. They nest in tree cavities, where they lay their eggs.

Screech owls eat insects, mice, and other small animals. They hunt by perching on a branch and waiting for their prey to come close. Then they swoop down and grab the animal with their sharp talons.

Northern-Pygmy Owls

Northern Pygmy Owl

The Northern Pygmy Owl is a small owl measuring around seven inches in length. It has large eyes, ear tufts, and a white facial disk with a black border. The back of its head and nape are gray with brown bars, while the front is pale gray with brown streaks.

The breast and belly are whitish with brown streaks. The Northern Pygmy Owl can be found in North America, specifically in the western and northern parts of the continent. Its range includes Alaska, Canada, and some of the northern United States including Montana and North Dakota.

In terms of habitat, this owl prefers forests with dense vegetation where it can find plenty of prey to hunt.

When it comes to behavior, the Northern Pygmy Owl is known to be quite aggressive. It will often attack much larger birds such as crows and jays in order to defend its territory.

This owl is also known to be very vocal, making a variety of sounds including hoots, whistles, and screeches. Additionally, the Northern Pygmy Owl is a nocturnal bird, meaning it is most active at night.

Burrowing Owls

Burrowing Owls

Burrowing owls are found in North Carolina from late February to early October. The best time to find them is during the breeding season from late April through early August.

Burrowing owls nest in burrows, often those excavated by other animals such as groundhogs, prairie dogs, and badgers. They may also use old nests of other birds such as killdeer, wrens, and bluebirds.

Burrowing owls are small, stocky owls with large heads and no ear tufts. They have bright yellow eyes and a white “ mustache” mark on their brownish-gray faces.

Their underparts are streaked with brown and white, and their upperparts are brown with white spots. They have long legs and short tails.

Burrowing owls are mostly active at night, but they may also be seen during the day. During the day, they often perch on fences, posts, or low branches. At night, they hunt for insects, rodents, and other small animals.

long-eared owls

Related article: Types of Owls in Louisiana

Long-eared Owls

Long-eared owls are found in North Carolina year-round, although they may be more difficult to spot during the summer months when they are nesting. They have long, prominent ear tufts that give them their name, and they are mottled brown and white with dark streaks on their breast.

These owls are relatively small, measuring only about 16 inches in length.

Long-eared owls are nocturnal predators, meaning they hunt at night. They typically nest in trees, and will use old nests built by other birds such as hawks or crows.

These owls mostly eat small mammals such as mice and voles, but they will also take birds, reptiles, and insects.

If you’re lucky enough to spot a long-eared owl in North Carolina, you can usually find them perching in a tree or on a fence post. They are relatively shy birds, so they may fly away if you get too close.

However, if you watch them long enough, you may see them swoop down to catch their prey.

snowy owl

Snowy Owl

The Snowy Owl is a beautiful bird that can be found in North Carolina. They are white with black spots and have yellow eyes. These owls are mostly active at night, but can also be seen during the day. They hunt by perching on a high spot and looking for prey below. Snowy Owls eat small mammals such as mice and voles.

American Barn Owls

American Barn Owl

The American Barn Owl is a medium-sized owl with a round head and no ear tufts. They have a white face with black eyes and a dark brown body with white spots. Their wings are long and they have a short tail.

They can be found in open areas like fields and meadows hunting for rodents at night. If you live in North Carolina and want to attract these owls to your area, you can put up a nest box or perch for them to use. You should also avoid using pesticides so that the rodents they eat are not poisoned.

These owls mate for life and usually have between two and six chicks at a time. The female will do most of the hunting while the male stays at the nest to protect the chicks.

Once the chicks are old enough to fly and hunt on their own, they will leave their parents and find mates of their own. American Barn Owls can live up to 15 years in the wild.

Northern Saw-Whet Owl

Northern Saw-whet Owl

The Northern Saw-whet Owl is a small owl with a round head and no ear tufts. It has bright yellow eyes and a black beak. The body is brown with white streaks. The wings are short and rounded. The tail is long and square-shaped.

This owl can be found in North America, specifically in the northern United States and Canada. It prefers to live in forests near streams or other bodies of water.

The Northern Saw-whet Owl is most active at night. During the day, it perches on a tree branch or stump and rests. At night, it hunts for its food, which includes rodents, insects, and small birds.

If you see a Northern Saw-whet Owl, you can tell it apart from other owls by its behavior. This owl bobs its head up and down when it is alert or looking around. It also sometimes makes a clicking noise with its beak. If you hear an owl making a repetitive “toot” sound, it is probably a Northern Saw-whet Owl.

If you live in an area where Northern Saw-whet Owls are found, you may be able to see one of these owls up close by putting out a live mouse or rat in your backyard. The owl will come to eat the mouse, and you will be able to watch it up close. Just be sure to keep your pets away from the owl!

flammulated owl

Flammulated Owl

These owls are small, measuring only about eight inches in length. They have reddish-brown feathers on their upper body and lighter-colored feathers on their belly.

One of the most distinctive features of the flammulated owl is the pattern of feathers on its head. The feathers around their eyes are arranged in a way that resembles eyebrows, which gives them a somewhat comical appearance.

Flammulated owls are most active at night, so if you’re hoping to see one, your best bet is to go out after dusk. They typically roost in trees during the day, so keep your eyes peeled for any small birds perched high up in the branches. If you’re lucky enough to spot a flammulated owl, you’ll likely hear them before you see them.

These owls make a distinctive sound that has been described as sounding like a bouncing ping pong ball. So if you’re out in the woods and you hear something that sounds like that, there’s a good chance it’s a flammulated owl!

Short-eared Owls

Short-eared Owls

Short-eared owls are medium-sized owls with long, pointed wings and rounded heads. They can be found in North Carolina year-round, but are more common in the winter months.

These owls hunt during the day and night and prey on small mammals such as mice, voles, and shrews. Short-eared owls are one of the few owl species that will actively hunt during the day.

To identify a short-eared owl, look for its distinctive yellow eyes and brownish-orange plumage. The sides of its face are streaked with brown and white, and its belly is pale.

When in flight, you can see its long wings and short tail. Short-eared owls are often found in open fields, meadows, and marshes.

Boreal Owl

Boreal Owl

The Boreal Owl is a medium-sized owl with large, round eyes. It has a brownish-gray body with white spots on its wings. The Boreal Owl is found in North America, Europe, and Asia. In North Carolina, the Boreal Owl can be found in the mountains.

The Boreal Owl hunts at night for small mammals, such as mice and voles. It uses its sharp claws and beak to kill its prey. The Boreal Owl can also eat birds, reptiles, and insects.

The Boreal Owl is a nocturnal bird of prey. This means that it is most active at night. During the day, the Boreal Owl sleeps in a tree hole or on a branch. It is also known to perch on power lines and poles.

The Boreal Owl is a solitary bird. This means that it does not live in groups. The Boreal Owl mates for life and nests in trees. The female lays two to six eggs at a time. Both the male and female help to raise the young.

The Boreal Owl is a shy bird and is not often seen by people.

Western-Screech Owl

Western Screech Owl

The Western Screech Owl is a small owl with large, ear-like tufts of feathers on its head. It has a round body and short tail. The owl’s plumage is grayish brown with streaks of white. Its eyes are yellowish and it has a black beak.

The Western Screech Owl is found in western North America. It inhabits woodlands, forests, and urban areas. The owl nests in tree cavities and hunts for small mammals and insects.

To identify a Western Screech Owl, look for these characteristics: ear-like tufts of feathers, round body, short tail, grayish brown plumage with white streaks, yellowish eyes, and black beak.

If you see an owl with these characteristics in North America, it is likely a Western Screech Owl.

If you are interested in seeing a Western Screech Owl up close, there are a few things you can do to attract one to your yard. First, put up a nest box. The owl will use the nest box to roost during the day and to raise its young. Second, provide a perch for the owl to hunt from. Third, offer the owl a food source, such as live mice or crickets.

How common are owls in North Carolina?

Owls are fairly common in North Carolina, with several different species calling the state home.

What time of year are owls most active?

Owls are active year-round, but some species are more common in certain seasons. For example, short-eared owls are more common in the winter months.

Are owls good to have around your house?

Owls can be beneficial to have around your house as they help control rodent populations. However, some owls may prey on smaller birds, so it is important to do your research before attracting one to your property. Overall, owls are shy birds and are not often seen by people.

What are the most common owls in NC?

The most common owls in North Carolina are the barred owl, the great horned owl, and the eastern screech owl. These three species make up the majority of the state’s owl population. However, there are also a few other types of owls that can be found here, including the northern pygmy owl, the burrowing

What time are owls most active?

Owls are most active at night, but they can also be seen during the day. During the day, owls typically sleep in a tree hole or on a branch. At night, owls hunt for food.