9 Types of Owls in West Virginia

Hi there! In this article, I will be introducing you to the nine types of owls that call West Virginia home.

Owls are fascinating creatures that are renowned for their nocturnal habits and exceptional hunting skills.

In this region, you’ll find a diverse range of species that vary in size, color, and behavior.

So, if you’re curious about the types of owls that reside in West Virginia, stick around!

Barn OwlBarn Owl
Barred OwlBarred Owl
Eastern Screech-OwlEastern Screech-Owl
Northern Saw-Whet OwlNorthern Saw-Whet Owl
Great Horned OwlGreat Horned Owl
Snowy OwlSnowy Owl
Long-Eared OwlLong-Eared Owl
Short-Eared OwlShort-Eared Owl
Northern Hawk OwlNorthern Hawk Owl

Types of Owls in West Virginia

1. Barn Owl

Barn Owl

Barn Owls are permanent residents of West Virginia, and their piercing cry may be heard across the state.

This species of owl lives true to its name since it is frequently seen inhabiting barns and other types of abandoned buildings.

In addition to this, they will sleep inside decaying tree trunks and dense clusters of trees.

These nocturnal hunters go out hunting in broad areas at night in search of insects, which they will then consume in their entirety. 

As a result of the owl’s tendency to consume its food in a single gulp, rather than the food traveling from one side toward the other side, the owl generates “pellets” that it then regurgitates. 

These pellets, which provide a great glimpse into the owl’s diet, are utilized by students and researchers alike in order to get further knowledge on owls and the eating patterns that they engage in.

There are approximately 46 different subspecies of the Barn Owl found around the globe.

The variant found in North America is the most extensive, while the one found in the Galapagos Islands is the most compact. 

The Barn Owl native to North America is about double the size of its more tiny island relative.

Despite the fact that they are found all over the world, populations in certain regions are starting to suffer the effects of habitat loss.

2. Barred Owl

Barred Owl

This owl, which can be identified by the characteristic brown and white bars on its wings, lives across West Virginia year-round.

They build their homes in the branches of trees and are most common in mature woods.

Even though they are only active at night, their call is easily recognizable even during the day since it is so loud.

The barred owls have a strong propensity to spend their whole lives in the same geographical region, seldom straying farther than six miles away from the location where they lay eggs. 

Young barred owls have a great deal of acrobatic ability.

They can ascend a tree utilizing the nails on their feet, their bills, and the flapping motion of their wings.

A growing number of Barred Owls have recently been seen in the Pacific Northwest.

The number of Spotted Owls is being impacted as a result of this. 

They are supplanting them and breeding with them at the same time.

In light of the fact that the spotted owl seems to be in danger, both of them are problematic.

3. Eastern Screech-Owl

Eastern Screech Owl

The Eastern Screech Owl is a native that may be found in the majority of woodland environments.

This species lives across West Virginia throughout the whole year and may be found in almost any location that has a significant number of trees. 

Since of the speckled gray and brown plumage on its body, the Eastern Screech Owl is a disguise specialist because it can blend in extremely well with the surrounding trees.

The Eastern Screech Owl is quite good at remaining hidden, although it does make pellets, which it then spits out at the foot of the tree in which it resides. 

This not only provides an excellent chance to explore the owl’s food, but it also provides hints as to where an Eastern Screech Owl may be located.

Even though the Eastern Screech Owl usually stays with its partner for life, the male may sometimes pair with two other females. 

When this occurs, the other female will force the first female out of their nest and take possession of it for herself.

After that, she will hatch her eggs, and she will nurse both pairs of eggs simultaneously.

4. Northern Saw-Whet Owl

Northern Saw-whet Owl

The Owl specie is a delicate species of owl that is a continuous resident in the upper-northeast corner of Western Virginia.

Although it may be seen in other areas of the state, breeding populations are only found in the northern corner. 

This species of owl has a strong preference for roosting on coniferous trees and has a tendency to position itself quite near the trunk of the tree, just above the level of the eye.

Saw-whet Owls are almost the same proportion as robins, which indicates that mice would be a substantial meal for them.

The saw-whet owl often consumes the deer mouse as one of its meals.

Due to the owl’s little size, one adult mouse may give sufficient food for two separate meals.

It is possible to find saw-whet owls by listening to songbirds.

When there is an owl in the neighborhood, the songbirds will likely make a lot of noise in an effort to scare the owl away from their territory.

5. Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl

The Great Horned Owl is more likely to be encountered in younger forests that have a significant amount of open space.

They are citizens of the United States and have permanent residence in most of the states, notably West Virginia. 

Around nightfall, you may see these nocturnal species become more active, at which time you can notice them coming out to perch on high posts or fly over farms.

Because of its size, the Great Horned Owl regularly engages in the search for other types of prey birds.

It is known to consume a variety of prey, including crows, small animals, amphibians, and even other species of owls.

The Owl species has developed the capacity to swivel its head by 180 degrees as a means of compensating for the fact that its eyes cannot move inside its sockets.

It has incredible night vision, and its hearing is just as incredible as its eyesight at night. 

They are able to locate their prey, which would otherwise be camouflaged, because of their keen night vision and acute hearing.

6. Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl

The United States is not known for its high population of Snowy Owls.

Their natural environment is often located considerably farther north.

Even yet, Snowy Owls are known to visit certain areas across the United States on rare and even remain there for the wintertime. 

Snowy Owls have been seen across West Virginia, namely in the northern regions of the state.

This is among the states where they may be found. It is possible that they will show up during certain winters season. 

Snowy Owls that have been used to spending the winter in a certain location will keep making use of that location.

When compared to other types of owls, Snowy Owls are easier to see if they are in the area where you are.

They are diurnal, unlike the vast majority of other owls, and hence they are active throughout the daytime. 

They roost in visible areas. Snowy Owls are most successful while hunting in open areas, although when they do hunt in more enclosed areas, they will sit on higher ground.

In contrast to several other types of owls, Snowy Owls aren’t reluctant to move away from the territory in which they were born. 

When monitored, owls of the same nest were located hundreds of miles apart, flying in opposing directions from one another.

7. Long-Eared Owl

Long-eared Owl

The thick undergrowth provides the best roosting conditions for the Long-Eared Owl.

In spite of the fact that it is not present there over the whole year, it maintains a presence across West Virginia.

Even though they like to sleep in the trees, they need broad spaces in which to do their hunts.

The ear tufts on the head of the Long-Eared owl, which give the species its name, aren’t the sole distinguishing characteristic of this owl. 

The male owl makes a cry that is loud enough to be heard from a distance of one kilometer (a little over a mile). 

The Owl species makes a number of different sounds, including the more common “hoot” as well as a barking call.

The Long-Eared species is a proficient hunter that is able to capture prey in complete darkness because of its acute sense of hearing.

However, if you search for the pellets that they leave behind on the ground, you may be able to detect one of these creatures. 

Pellets produced by owls always take on a certain form.

It’s possible that you’ll have an easier time finding them during the wintertime when they congregate in larger numbers to sleep.

8. Short-Eared Owl

Short-Eared Owl

An additional predator that lives in grassland is the Short-Eared Owl.

Because it is active throughout the day, there is a strong possibility that you may see one of these owls. 

Although it spends some of its time across West Virginia, the breeding season in that state is spent elsewhere.

It spends the winter across West Virginia, where it’s especially active in the early morning and late evening hours.

If she is removed from the nest against her choice, the female Short-Eared Owl might urinate on her eggs.

It would seem that the purpose of this activity is to cover up the odor of the nest and scare away potential dangers.

A population of the Short-Eared Owl may be found in almost every region of the planet.

It is to the owl’s benefit that it often chooses to build its nests at abandoned strip mining sites since this widens the range of probable locations in which the owl may do so.

9. Northern Hawk Owl

Northern Hawk-Owl

The Northern Hawk Owl is a species of owl that is about the size of a Great Horned Owl but is somewhat smaller.

It has yellow eyes, a round head, and a pointed beak. It has large wings but a somewhat small tail. 

The top half is black with white bars, while the underparts range from pale buff to whitish and are covered in many little black dots.

The soles of the feet are feathery all the way to the toes.

The wide coniferous woods of the northern boreal areas of North America are home to this particular species of owl. 

Although it may be seen breeding as far south as Virginia and Colorado, the majority of hawk owls in the contiguous United States can be spotted throughout Minnesota. 

Its breeding range extends from Northern Canada south and Alaska to all those states.

This species of owl can be spotted as far south as central Texas and Florida during the winter months.

Diurnal owls are those that are active throughout the day, and the Northern Hawk Owl is one of such owls.

Its primary diet consists of rodents of a smaller size, such as voles and mice, although it will also consume amphibians, birds, and reptiles. 

This species of owl lays about six eggs in a nest that was previously occupied by a hawk or a crow.


In conclusion, West Virginia is home to a diverse range of owl species that are truly awe-inspiring.

From the tiny Northern Saw-whet Owl to the majestic Great Horned Owl, each species has its unique characteristics that make them fascinating to observe.

As nocturnal creatures, owls are often shrouded in mystery, but learning about these remarkable birds can be a thrilling experience.

By understanding more about the types of owls in West Virginia, we can better appreciate the natural world around us and work towards protecting these magnificent creatures for generations to come.


How many types of owls are there in West Virginia?

There are nine different types of owl species that call West Virginia their home.

What is the largest owl species in West Virginia?

The Great Horned Owl is the largest owl species found in West Virginia, with a wingspan of up to 5 feet.

What is the smallest owl species in West Virginia?

The Northern Saw-whet Owl is the smallest owl species found in West Virginia, measuring only 6-8 inches in length.

Are all owls nocturnal?

Yes, all owl species are nocturnal, meaning they are most active at night.

Are owls endangered in West Virginia?

Most species of owls in West Virginia are not currently listed as endangered. However, habitat loss and other factors may pose a threat to their populations in the future.

Last Updated on April 13, 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.