Common Owls North America

by OBDK on November 13, 2020

As an owl lover, you may be surprised to know that there are over 19 types of owls in North America!


Owls are so similar in a lot of ways when it comes to their hunting abilities and prey preference and also so different when it comes to where they prefer to live and what they look like! 


Covering all 19 would end up being a very long email, but here are five of the common species you can find in North America:

Barred Owl

Barred owls stand between 17 and 24 inches tall. The males weigh around 1.5 pounds, while females weigh closer to 2 pounds. They have a very distinct 4 beat call that once you hear it, you’ll be able to identify a barred owl anywhere. 

They tend to live in mature forests that are close to open areas so they can hunt. Within the US, there are 3 subspecies of barred owls, and a fourth can be found in Mexico.

Barn Owl

Barn Owls stand between 14 and 20 inches tall. The males weigh just under a pound, while the females weigh only a few ounces over. They have a heart shaped facial disk that makes them distinct from other owls. 

They prefer to live in open spaces over heavily forested areas. Although there are as many as 46 different kinds of barn owl across the globe, there’s only one subspecies within North America. 

Barn owls are the ones that we most commonly get our pellets from. You can learn even more about them through our pellet dissection experience. You can grab them here

Eastern Screech Owl 

Eastern screech owls stand between 6 to 10 inches tall, and weigh between 4 and 8.5 ounces. They tend to hang out in wooded areas east of the Rocky Mountains. They can be found in suburban areas, orchards, and more. They don’t like dense forests. 

There are 5 subspecies of the eastern screech owl and they are an owl species that tends to mate for life.

Great Horned Owl

Great horned owls stand between 18 and 25 inches tall. The males weigh around 3 pounds, while the females weigh almost 4. They are only found in the Americas and there are 8 subspecies within North America. 

They live almost anywhere in North America, as long as they have places to nest, roost, and hunt. They make their homes in both high and low elevations. 

We have great horned owl pellets, too! They present more of a challenge to dissect and identify prey due to the nature of how these owls digest. Check them out here. (Stock may be limited because they're harder to find and more prone to damage than barn owl pellets.)

Great Gray Owl

Great gray owls are the largest owls out of the ones found in North and Central America. They stand at almost 3 feet tall! However, they weigh less than great horned owls and snowy owls. The males weigh just over 2 pounds, and the females weigh almost 3. 

They can be found in dense forests within North America. Similar to the barred owl, they prefer these forests be close to open areas to hunt in. On the western side of the US, they can be found in very high elevations. 



Don’t let your owl education end here! Learn even more (and have fun while you’re at it!) through our owl pellet dissection activity. They are fun for all adults and children alike, click here to browse through what we offer. 

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