Florida Owls: 7 Species of Owls in Florida

Last Updated on March 22, 2023 by Lily Aldrin

Owls are magnificent birds of prey who hunt and consume tiny animals, snakes, frogs, and insects.

Owls consume their prey completely, typically after the head has been removed, then vomit the bones and hair.

The Great Horned Owl is Florida’s largest owl. The Burrowing Owl has been the tiniest of the owls.

For a better opportunity of sighting owls in Florida, go to the woods around night or early morning. Instead, go to a flat area to find a burrowing owl; although, due to their tiny size, they will be harder to spot than you think.

Six normal species while one uncommon owl variety has been seen in Florida, according to the Florida Ornithological Society.

Six of these Florida owl varieties are widespread, while one is a unique creature that has only been seen once in the last 10 years.

We’ll discuss the seven owls that live in Florida, their habits, and where you can locate them in this post.

Barn OwlBarn Owl
Eastern Screech OwlEastern Screech Owl
Great Horned OwlGreat Horned Owl
Barred OwlBarred Owl
Short-eared OwlShort-eared Owl
Burrowing OwlBurrowing Owl
Snowy OwlSnowy Owl

Different Species of Owls in Florida

1. Barn Owl

Barn Owl

Barn Owls possess buff-colored backs and white cheeks, chests, and bellies, as well as underwings. Their faces are round, their wings are long and curved, and their tails are small.

Upon that chests of females are parasite-repelling spots.

The more spots a female has, then the more male contributes to the nest’s development!

Habitat & Food

They are so-called because they generally sleep in calm barns throughout the day. They scavenge for tiny animals at nighttime over open lands such as meadows and fields.

Barn owls eat their prey entirely and vomit pellets two times a day.

The Barn Owl seeks food primarily by sound since it has the best hearing of almost any species investigated. This enables them to capture prey in low-light conditions, including those hidden behind vegetation or in open areas.

Tree holes, caverns, and abandoned or quiet constructions are all good places for them to build their nests. The nest is mostly made up of regurgitated pellets deposited in a cup with their legs. Over the course of one to three broods, females lay 2-18 white eggs.

Barn Owls come in 46 different species and may be spotted on all six continents. They make a raspy scream cry instead of hooting like certain other owls.

2. Eastern Screech Owl

Eastern Screech Owl

The Eastern Screech-Owl may be seen most of the year in Florida. Gray and red color combinations are possible for this small, stocky bird.

They’re about the appearance of a robin, but much bigger, with a large head and almost no neck. They blend very well with tree bark, thanks to their striped and speckled camouflage.

In woodlands and parks, the Eastern Screech-Owl could be observed. On cool bright days, you could spot one sunning itself in a tree hollow or by the frenzied mobbing of birdsong when they spot them.

Pellets in a pile are also a huge clue. They create a vibrating trill and a harsh, falling whinny sound.

Eastern Screech-Owls consume many small creatures, such as insects, birds, reptiles, mammals, and amphibians, and hunt largely at nighttime as well as at dawn and twilight. Prior to actually jumping from perches to attack, they usually sit there and wait for rodents to pass by.

The Eastern Screech-Owl usually exploits disused woodpecker nesting grounds, as well as other holes or caves, because they rarely dig their own nests.

They don’t contribute any nesting stuff to the hollow. They deposit their eggs upon what garbage appears to have been at the bottom of the hole/cave.

They produce 2 – 6 white eggs in each clutch.

3. Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl

The Great Horned Owl spends the entire year in Florida and North America. They are huge owls having thick bodies and enormous tufts on their heads that resemble ear tufts.

Gray-brown in color with a speckled appearance and a white patch on the neck, Great Horned Owls are the largest of the owl species. They have wide, curving wings and make a loud hooting sound.

It is one of North America’s most common owls, and it can be located in a range of habitats, including woodlands, deserts, cities, and grasslands.

These fearsome predators prey on considerably larger birds and animals than they are. Various raptors that they will hunt include peregrine falcons, ospreys, and other owls. 

Small rodents including geese, skunks, mice, and hares, as well as fish, insects, and carrion, make up their diversified diet. They don’t have a fussy palate and will eat almost anything!

Great Horned Owls make their nests in forests, and they commonly reuse other species’ nests. They occasionally line the nest with leaves, bark, downy feathers, or pellets, although they don’t always.

They lay 1 – 4 white color eggs.

4. Barred Owl

Barred Owl

In Florida, the Barred Owl may be seen throughout the year. In Florida, they are by far the most commonly sighted owl species.

The size of these massive stocky birds is midway between a crow and a goose.

Barred Owls have a speckled design of vertical stripes on their abdomen and horizontal stripes on their backsides and top chest. 

They possess a curved tail, black eyes, and a characteristic round head with no ear tufts.

The Barred Owl makes a loud hoo-hoo barking sound.

They sit there and watch for tiny creatures, such as birds, squirrels, rabbits, and voles, from a lofty perch. They live in large, old woodlands, often near water sources.

In tree hollows, they hatch 1 – 5 white eggs.

5. Short-eared Owl

Short-Eared Owl

The Short-eared Owl spends the winter in Florida, with some lingering until June prior to actually migrating north to breed in Canada and northern states.

They’re roughly the same size as a crow and have quite little ear tufts.

Short-eared Owls have a pale face with black-rimmed yellow eyes and speckled black, brown, and white coloration. They have a short tail and large wings with a smooth finish.

Unlike other owls, the Short-eared Owl hunts during the day, typically between dawn and twilight.

They fly close to the ground, listening for movement from their prey, which includes mice and voles.

Short-eared Owls are therefore unique in that they dig a bowl out of the ground and line it along with grasses and soft feathers to make their nest. They lay 1-11 white or creamy eggs.

These owls aren’t extremely noisy, but during mating, the males will let out a dozen or more hoots.

They may scream, bark, or whine when defending the nest.

6. Burrowing Owl

Burrowing Owl

A little spotted owl has long, grey legs, the burrowing owl is a burrowing owl. It has dark upper and whitish lower plumage with brown stripes. It has huge golden eyes with thick, light brows that conceal them.

They are only found in the Americas. Burrowing owls are stationary for the most part. However, those that nest in the far north of their range travel south for the winter.

Burrowing owls can be found in open fields all year in Florida. Open grasslands, prairies, and other open regions are where they may be found.

Burrowing owls are active throughout the day and are relatively tolerant of humans. They’re frequently spotted around runways, roadways, golf resorts, parks, and farms. A quiet dual-note hoot is the most common call.

They nest and roost in tunnels, which are often dug by ground squirrels, prairie dogs, and other burrowing mammals.

This is a protective tactic that mimics rattlesnake activity. They emit rattling and hissing noises to scare off possible predators, just like the rattlesnake.

Although they eat a variety of things, they mostly eat rodents and insects. Amphibians, lizards, and small birds are also taken.

These owls hunt at all hours of the day and night. Burrowing owls are threatened in sections of their range, despite being listed as the least concern.

Habitat degradation and population decreases of burrowing animals, on which they rely pose a threat to them.

Vehicles and domesticated animals frequently kill them as well.

7. Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl

Although Florida is certainly not in their usual range, snowy owls have indeed been observed to travel as far south as that of the Sunshine State on occasion.

The snowy owl is among the most distinguishable owls on the globe, with its distinctive white plumage and brilliant yellow eyes.

The plumage is stippled with black patches on the upper parts while being largely white.

Females have much more spots and mild brown striping than males. The heads of snowy owls are tiny, with short ear tufts and extensive feathering.

They blend in nicely with the cold polar landscape, frequently appearing as a clump of snow on the ground.

Snowy owls are raptors that live in wide, treeless areas of the Arctic tundra.

They build their nests in shallow scrapes on dry land, commonly on ridges, hillsides, hummocks, and outcrops.


Snowy owls are migratory birds that migrate in random ways. They erupt south during some winter weather. Meadows, lakeshores, grasslands, prairies, and coastal environments are among their wintering grounds.

Crop grounds, golf grounds, and airport fields are all places where they can be found.

Snowy owls, unlike other owls, produce a far-reaching barking call rather than the customary hooting. A succession of raspy Kru Kru Kru sounds is the most typical cry. Clucking, screeching, grunting, hissing, and cackling are some of the other different sounds.

Another distinguishing feature of the snowy owl is its hunting behavior, which, unlike the other owls, may occur at any time of day or night.

They also lacked the keen hearing that owls have, relying instead on their sharp vision.

They attack from a perch or ascend from the field and swoop down on their victim. Small animals, notable lemmings, are the primary prey.

Other birds, rodents, and the occasional amphibian, fish, or invertebrate are also taken.

The population demographics of this species are difficult to follow due to their irregular character and the distance from their nesting habitat.

They have few enemies and a large breeding habitat that is generally unaffected. However, the proportion of snowy owls in the area is thought to have plummeted.

Changing climate, which affects their habitats and prey availability, is a potential hazard. They are also vulnerable to collisions with autos, powerlines, and fences throughout migrations, especially in the winter.

They are now classified as vulnerable by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).


Owls are extremely beneficial to people since they devour more rodent pests than any other species, making them extremely valuable both economically and ecologically.

They’re especially important in agricultural regions because they’re arguably more effective than pesticides at managing pests.

Ironically, pesticide usage is among the most serious risks to owls, as they are poisoned unintentionally by the harmful compounds collected in their diet.

The majority of North American owl species are steady, while others are declining.

Aside from pesticide usage, loss of habitat is a big concern. Owl boxes are a terrific method to attract owls to your yard, where they may help reduce rodents and offer much-needed nesting places for these important birds.

Check this article on Types of Woodpeckers in Florida and Types of Owls in Virginia if you are interested. 


How many different types of owls can you find in Florida?

Florida has five native owl species (native = year-round native living) and one migrating owl species that are reasonably straightforward to recognize.

What do owls in Florida eat?

Insects, birds, a variety of tiny rodents, lizards, and even crayfish are all part of their diet, depending on the species. In a single year, owl breeding pairs and their hungry owlets can swallow dozens of tiny rodents.

What kind of owl is the most prevalent in Florida?

Eastern screech owls are among Florida’s more frequent owl types. Even though it appears to have a perpetual scowl on its face, it is little and lovely.

Is it true that owls eat snakes?

Yes, owls do eat snakes and are particularly fond of them. The Big Horned Owl, Eastern Screech-Owl, Barred Owl, and Burrowing Owl are four of the most common owl species reported to eat snakes. Owls are opportunist animals that will readily hunt and consume reptiles when they are around.

Do copperheads are eaten by owls?

Copperheads are mostly preyed upon by owls and hawks, although opossums, raccoons, as well as other snakes, might even prey on them.

About Lily Aldrin

I am Lily Aldrin. I attended Cornell University, where I obtained my degree to become an Ornithologist so I could pursue my love of these magnificent creatures in and out of their natural habitats.

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