8 Types of Owls in Georgia

Hello and welcome!

In this article, we will explore the captivating world of owls found in the beautiful state of Georgia.

From their mesmerizing hoots to their exceptional hunting skills, owls have long fascinated both nature enthusiasts and casual observers alike.

Georgia is home to a diverse range of owl species, each possessing unique characteristics and adaptations.

Join me as we uncover the eight types of owls that grace the skies of Georgia, delving into their intriguing habits and showcasing the enchanting beauty of these nocturnal creatures.

Let’s embark on a journey into the realm of owls in Georgia!

Barn Owl

Barn Owl

  • Scientific Name: Tyto alba
  • Family Name: Tytonidae
  • Length: 13-15 inches
  • Weight: 14-24 ounces
  • Wingspan: 39-49 inches
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Eastern Screech Owl

Eastern Screech Owl

  • Scientific Name: Megascops asio
  • Family Name: Strigidae
  • Length: 6.3-9.8 inches
  • Weight: 4.3-8.6 ounces
  • Wingspan: 18-24 inches
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Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl

  • Scientific Name: Bubo virginianus
  • Family Name: Strigidae
  • Length: 18-25 inches
  • Weight: 2.2-5.5 pounds
  • Wingspan: 3.3-4.8 feet
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Barred Owl

Barred Owl

  • Scientific Name: Strix varia
  • Family Name: Strigidae
  • Length: 16-24 inches
  • Weight: 16-37 ounces
  • Wingspan: 38-49 inches
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Burrowing Owl

Burrowing Owl

  • Scientific Name: Athene cunicularia
  • Family Name: Strigidae
  • Length: 7.5-11 inches
  • Weight: 5.3-8.5 ounces
  • Wingspan: 21-24 inches
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Short-Eared Owl

Short-Eared Owl

  • Scientific Name: Asio flammeus
  • Family Name: Strigidae
  • Length: 13-17 inches
  • Weight: 7.3-16.8 ounces
  • Wingspan: 33-43 inches
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Northern Saw-Whet Owl

Northern Saw-Whet Owl

  • Scientific Name: Aegolius acadicus
  • Family Name: Strigidae
  • Length: 7-8 inches
  • Weight: 2.3-5.3 ounces
  • Wingspan: 16-18 inches
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Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl

  • Scientific Name: Bubo scandiacus
  • Family Name: Strigidae
  • Length: 20-28 inches
  • Weight: 3.5-6.6 pounds
  • Wingspan: 4.2-4.8 feet
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If you don’t have the time to read the whole article, check out this video for a quick understanding.

Types of Owls in Georgia

1. Barn Owl

Barn Owl

Barn owls are distinguished by their predominantly white plumage with mottled grey accents.

Their feathers and colors are noticeable during the day.

They like to spend their time within tree stumps and other enclosed spaces, making them rather easy to see, it is easy to notice them in Georgia’s north and south for various agricultural reasons.

Hunts at night, not during the day.

Flying low over open land, observing and listening for prey.

It has outstanding low-light eyesight and hearing so fine that it can hit prey in complete darkness.

Short tails and long, rounded wings.

The legs are long, and there are no tufts of hair on the head, which is smooth and rounded.

They may be found in marshy places and spaces near rivers and crop fields.

They shelter in dark, quiet areas during the day, such as deserted farms or other desolated buildings that humans may have abandoned.

They have light-colored bodies with grey patterns on their heads, throats, and upper wings, and light white faces with black eyes.

They emerge as a flash of white at night as they soar through vast fields and grasslands, searching for food.

They’re good at finding tiny rodents even though, by hearing them, they have excellent hearing capability.

Barn owls may be spotted all year in Georgia, but you’ll have a greater chance of seeing one around twilight or dawn because that’s when they hunt.

The majority of the animals are rodents.

Voles are the main prey, although it also eats mice, tiny rats, shrews, a young hare, and other animals.

Birds, reptiles, insects, frogs, and even fish are eaten modestly.

Below are the characteristics of the Barn Owl,

Scientific Name Tyto alba
Family Name Tytonidae
Length 13-15 inches
Weight 14-24 ounces
Wingspan 39-49 inches
Habitat Open grasslands, agricultural areas, marshes, and forests
Food Mainly small mammals like mice, voles, rats, shrews, and occasionally birds

2. Eastern Screech Owl

Eastern Screech Owl

Eastern Screech-Owls are well-known for their ability to blend in with their surroundings.

Even though these owls may be seen all year in Georgia, their mottled grey and red-brown feathers provide great camo for blending into the woods.

They may be found in most types of woodlands, forests, and woodlands and wilderness, particularly near water sources, nesting in empty tree cavities.

It may be identified by its distinct cry, which decreases in loudness just before you can see it.

During the day, these tiny owls are known to spend their time hunting, courting, and napping.

This tiny owl is Georgia’s most common owl, and it’s perfect for spotting nighttime predators at work.

They may be found in both rural and suburban locations, and their numbers are large enough to make identifying them simple.

These beautiful fluffy birds are known to make pairs in Georgia during March and April, making this a perfect time to see them.

These owls are most usually seen spotted while hunting.

They do it in this region at dusk.

Forages at night and dusk. Hunts mostly by perching and then flying down to catch food on the ground or vegetation.

Flies in the air are also caught. Can find prey both visually and audibly.

Dietary diversity is extensive. Spiders, caterpillars, bugs, and other big insects are among the creatures it eats.

Rats and other rodents, shrews, and occasionally bats are caught, as well as tiny birds, reptiles, frogs, spiders, worms, crayfish, and various other small critters.

Below are the characteristics of the Eastern Screech Owl,

Scientific Name Megascops asio
Family Name Strigidae
Length 6.3-9.8 inches
Weight 4.3-8.6 ounces
Wingspan 18-24 inches
Habitat Woodlands, forests, suburban areas, parks, and gardens
Food Mainly small mammals like mice, voles, and shrews, as well as insects, birds, and reptiles

3. Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl

The great horned owl is a majestic species with a distinguishable look that has been observed hunting for long periods.

This owl is easily identified by its horned look, resulting from unique patches of plumage that are formed weirdly around its eyes.

They’re noted for their outgoing personalities and want to be noticed by everyone.

This owl may be found in various habitats, although it is most noted in woodlands and open fields because they tend to spend the most time here.

It also proves to be a good place to hunt and find their prey.

They are notable for perching atop man-made buildings and scouting an area before a hunt.

Among other birds of prey, great horned owls are distinguishable.

Their distinctive loud hoot, feathery plumes on their forehead, and wide, bright eyes are unique.

They may be seen all year in Georgia and all around North America.

They may be found in various environments, including evergreen woodlands and deciduous forests with open fields and open regions, and even wetlands.

Goes hunting mostly at night but also at dusk.

It watches from a lofty perch and then glides down to catch food with its claws.

In low-light situations, it has excellent hearing and eyesight.

Mammals and birds make up most of their diet.

In most areas, mammals make up the majority of the diet.

Takes a lot of rats, mice, rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, muskrats, and a variety of other animals.

Eats birds up to the size of ducks, swans, hawks, and smaller owls.

Reptiles, snakes, toads, insects, scorpions, and fish are also eaten.

Below are the characteristics of the Great Horned Owl,

Scientific Name Bubo virginianus
Family Name Strigidae
Length 18-25 inches
Weight 2.2-5.5 pounds
Wingspan 3.3-4.8 feet
Habitat Various habitats including forests, woodlands, open areas, deserts, and urban areas
Food Mainly small to medium-sized mammals like rabbits, squirrels, skunks, and birds, as well as reptiles, amphibians, and insects

4. Barred Owl

Barred Owl

The barred owl is recognized for its rich cry, which may be heard on any day or night when this unusual bird needs to communicate.

Its feathers have a crisp cut and mottled look, with brown and white mixed throughout, creating a lovely pattern that is simple to distinguish.

These birds are noted for hunting a variety of animals and like to build their nests in tree cavities, especially in dead trees.

The Barred Owl is a widespread inhabitant of Georgia, most commonly seen on the coastal plains.

They are more receptive to exploring new locations than other owls since they are willing to consume a wide variety of animals.

The Barred Owl may be seen all year in Georgia, but there are specific times of the year when there are higher prospects of seeing these fascinating birds.

They are more active during their mating season, which begins in the spring and lasts until the end of the summer.

These birds hunt at any time of day or night, although the most common times are dawn and dusk.

Watches for prey from a perch and also fly low through the forest, hovering briefly before falling to catch food in its jaws.

The majority of the animals are tiny.

Mice and other tiny rodents, as well as squirrels, hares, opossums, shrews, and other small animals, are also eaten.

Various birds, frogs, salamanders, reptiles, snakes, and insects are also eaten.

Crayfish, crabs, and fish are examples of aquatic species that may be taken.

Below are the characteristics of the Barred Owl,

Scientific Name Strix varia
Family Name Strigidae
Length 16-24 inches
Weight 16-37 ounces
Wingspan 38-49 inches
Habitat Forested areas, woodlands, swamps, and riparian habitats
Food Mainly small mammals like mice, voles, and squirrels, as well as birds, amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates

5. Burrowing Owl

Burrowing Owl

The burrowing owl is the most charming and well-liked owl in the neighborhood.

Everything about them, including their size, nutrition, and nesting habits, distinguishes them from the other owls in the vicinity, making it simpler than ever to spot them.

These owls build their nests in tunnels in the ground, and while they are timid, they are a sight to behold.

Burrowing owls are infamous for stealing other creatures’ tunnels and turning them into a pleasant little nest where they may raise their young.

These Georgia natives can be found in broad fields and grasslands.

These birds are known not to be nocturnal.

They are renowned for standing straight white chests pumped out at all hours of the day, and they may be found in regions where there are plenty of good bugs to eat.

Mostly hunts at dusk and night but conducts a lot of day hunting during the breeding season.

Flying low from a ledge, hovering above fields, or dashing over the ground, gripping prey in its claws, this bird hunts in a number of ways.

It’s possible to catch flies in the air.

Insects and tiny animals are the most common.

The diet changes depending on the season and place.

In many locations throughout the summer, it consumes mostly big insects such as crickets, bugs, beetles, caterpillars, maggots, scorpions, spiders, and other arthropods.

For most of the year, it will eat small animals as well as some small birds.

Below are the characteristics of the Burrowing Owl,

Scientific Name Athene cunicularia
Family Name Strigidae
Length 7.5-11 inches
Weight 5.3-8.5 ounces
Wingspan 21-24 inches
Habitat Open grasslands, prairies, deserts, agricultural areas, and sometimes urban areas
Food Mainly insects like grasshoppers, beetles, and crickets, as well as small mammals, birds, and reptiles

6. Short-Eared Owl

Short-Eared Owl

This owl, as the name implies, has little distinct regions on its round head that are barely visible.

This breed of owl is recognized for its moderate length and magnificent black plumage.

They are the proud inhabitant of several states, but unlike other well-known owls, it does migrate.

Their nests can be discovered nestled away in the ground beneath some excellent foliage in open regions around the nation.

When searching for the Short-Eared owl, seek suitable hiding spots that are also suitable for small animals.

They can be found hopping around the ground or soaring in erratic formations low above the plains, chasing mice and other small creatures.

Because these birds are nomads and tend to migrate, the ideal time to observe them is during the winter months in most regions.

This bird prefers to stay hidden throughout the day and hunts between nightfall and morning when the animals are just beginning to stir.

Unlike other owls, they are frequently visible during the daytime when they fly.

They flap their wings with smooth, rigid beats, giving the impression that they are flying gracefully and effortlessly.

Their large, rounded wings let them glide silently through vast meadows and fields.

When it’s time to hunt, though, that flying pattern shifts.

When pursuing their prey, they tend to fly closer to the ground, swerving direction in an unpredictable manner.

Goes hunting by flying low to the ground, frequently hovering before swooping down on prey.

Prey is said to be found mostly by sound but partly by sight.

Although they may hunt during the day, especially in the far north, they are most active around dawn and dusk.

The majority of their prey is rodents. Voles are the primary prey.

However, other rodents such as lemmings, mice, and pocket mice are also eaten.

Shrews, rabbits, and gophers are also eaten; bats and muskrats are rarely eaten.

Birds are eaten by it, especially in coastal areas.

Below are the characteristics of the Short-Eared Owl,

Scientific Name Asio flammeus
Family Name Strigidae
Length 13-17 inches
Weight 7.3-16.8 ounces
Wingspan 33-43 inches
Habitat Grasslands, marshes, meadows, tundra, and agricultural areas
Food Mainly small mammals like mice, voles, and shrews, as well as birds and insects

7. Northern Saw-Whet Owl

Northern Saw-Whet Owl

The Northern Saw-whet Owl is a tiny owl with striking brown and white feathers that help it stand out.

This magnificent owl blends in perfectly with many trees in the north.

It has a huge spherical head with no noticeable ear tufts, giving it a smaller and more charming appearance.

They are immediately identifiable by their harsh, repeating calls that may be heard in the middle of the night while they are out hunting.

It’s just a matter of locating the perfect forest to discover these owls.

These captivating birds like living in the trees and can spend time sitting in a pleasant place before moving out for a nighttime hunt.

They prefer thickly forested locations and have been observed to startle people with their piercing night calls.

During the winter, these birds move to South and Central America in search of suitable forest habitats.

They’re tough to detect, but they’re simply stunning once you do.

Hunts nearly completely at night, sailing away on victims after waiting on low perches.

It locates its prey both visually and audibly.

The majority of the rodents are little. Mostly eats woodland mice and also eats a lot of voles.

Other mice, shrews, baby squirrels, tiny birds, and large insects are also eaten.

Below are the characteristics of the Northern Saw-Whet Owl,

Scientific Name Aegolius acadicus
Family Name Strigidae
Length 7-8 inches
Weight 2.3-5.3 ounces
Wingspan 16-18 inches
Habitat Forested areas, woodlands, and mixed coniferous forests
Food Mainly small mammals like mice, voles, and shrews, as well as small birds and insects

8. Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl

The snowy owl is not an indigenous bird of Georgia.

These are migratory birds and tend to fly through the length and breadth of the United States.

They are known to make their nest that are primordially ground-based nests.

They have white plumage, which makes them a spectacular view to witness.

Getting across a snowy bird is indeed a lucky day to have.

They can see in those particular areas where there is an abundance of food and can forage easily without any hurdles.

They may also hunt down smaller birds and eat smaller mammals and rodents and other animals smaller in size.

Whilst looking for food, they are not limited to following a specific time.

Depending upon their appetite and empty belly, they choose to hunt down prey.

Often hunts throughout the day.

Usually hunts by keeping an eye out from a perch for prey, then chasing it down in quick flight and grabbing it in its talons.

Prey is sometimes sought by flying low or hovering and observing the ground.

Prey can be found by sight or sound.

Lemmings, as well as other animals and birds, are among its main diet.

When lemmings are available in the Arctic, they may eat nearly solely on them.

Aside from that, it eats a broad range of prey.

Rodents, hares, voles, and ground squirrels are among the animals taken.

Birds are commonly eaten in coastal locations.

Fish and carrion are also possible food sources.

Below are the characteristics of the Snowy Owl,

Scientific Name Bubo scandiacus
Family Name Strigidae
Length 20-28 inches
Weight 3.5-6.6 pounds
Wingspan 4.2-4.8 feet
Habitat Arctic tundra, open fields, coastal areas, and sometimes farmlands
Food Mainly lemmings, but also other small mammals like mice, voles, and birds

Check out this article on Types of Owls in Indiana and Types of Owls in North Carolina.


In conclusion, the state of Georgia is a haven for owl enthusiasts, offering a rich diversity of these magnificent birds.

From the widespread Eastern Screech-Owl to the elusive Barred Owl, each species possesses its own distinct charm and allure.

We have explored the unique characteristics and habitats of eight owl species found in Georgia, providing a glimpse into their fascinating lives.

Whether you’re a seasoned birdwatcher or simply have an appreciation for the wonders of nature, encountering these owls in their natural habitats can be a truly awe-inspiring experience.

As we continue to appreciate and protect these remarkable creatures, let us cherish the invaluable role they play in maintaining the delicate balance of Georgia’s ecosystems.

So, grab your binoculars, venture into the night, and let the mesmerizing world of Georgia’s owls captivate your imagination.

Happy Owling!


Where can I spot owls in Georgia?

Owls can be found in various habitats throughout Georgia, including forests, swamps, marshes, and even urban areas with suitable nesting sites. Some popular locations for owl sightings include state parks, wildlife management areas, and nature preserves.

Are owls active during the day or night?

Owls are primarily nocturnal birds, meaning they are most active during the night. However, some species, such as the Eastern Screech-Owl, may also be active during dawn and dusk.

How can I identify different owl species in Georgia?

Owls can be identified by their physical features, such as size, coloration, and distinctive facial markings. Additionally, their calls and vocalizations can provide clues for identification. Field guides, birding apps, and online resources can be helpful references for identifying owl species.

Are owls endangered in Georgia?

While some owl species face conservation challenges due to habitat loss and other factors, none of the eight owl species found in Georgia are currently classified as endangered. However, it is important to continue conserving their habitats to ensure their long-term survival.

Can I legally keep an owl as a pet in Georgia?

Owls have protected wildlife, and it is illegal to keep them as pets without proper permits and licenses. Owls are best admired and appreciated in their natural habitats, where they can thrive and fulfill their ecological roles.

Last Updated on June 12, 2023 by Lily Aldrin

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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