10 Different Types of Owls in New York

In addition to becoming a resident in one of the major cities of the United States, New York is also a habitat to a wide range of birds that migrate from the Hudson River towards the Great Lakes, visiting each and every parkland and wood along the route!

Based on the state of New York’s authorized listing, there have been about 496 bird species since around 2021.

The listing comprises 12 distinct owl species, and we’ll introduce you to each one of these gorgeous and intelligent birds.

Let’s get started!

Barn OwlBarn Owl
Eastern Screech OwlEastern Screech Owl
Great Horned OwlGreat Horned Owl
Snowy OwlSnowy Owl
Barred OwlBarred Owl
Long-Eared OwlLong-Eared Owl
Short-eared OwlShort-eared Owl
Northern saw-whet OwlNorthern saw-whet Owl
Northern Hawk OwlNorthern Hawk Owl
Great Gray OwlGreat Gray Owl

Types of Owls in New York

1. Barn Owl

Barn Owl

The Barn Owl may be seen throughout New York throughout the year; however, it isn’t particularly frequent. This quiet nocturnal bird has a white face that is the crew size.

Barn owls possess buff-colored backs and white cheeks, abdomen, and breasts, as well as underwings. They have these little faces, short tails, and large rounded wings.

Females feature parasite-repelling patches on their breasts, and the additional spots the female possesses, the more frequently the male assists in constructing the nest!

Scientific Name Tyto alba
Weight 400 to 700 g (14.1 to 24.7 oz)
Length 32 to 40 cm (12.6 to 15.8 in)
Wingspan 100 to 119 cm (38.4 to 48.2 in)

They forage for tiny rodents across wide areas at night, like meadows and fields. They frequently sleep in calm barns during the daytime. Barn owls eat entire prey and cough up pellets thrice a day.

The Barn Owl seeks food primarily through hearing due to its best hearing of any creature. This enables them to catch prey through complete darkness and even those hidden beside trees and shrubs.

Nests are built in tree crevices, holes, buildings, or other abandoned or quiet constructions. The nest is made of regurgitated grains that their claws had put in a bowl. They hatch Two to Eighteen white eggs during one to three brooding cycles.

Barn Owls are widespread on six continents in 46 distinct species. They utter a raspy screaming cry instead of screeching like some other owls.

2. Eastern Screech Owl

Eastern Screech Owl

The Eastern Screech-Owl may be observed in New York throughout the year and is prevalent east of something like the Rockies.

They are about the size of a robin, however considerably heavier, with a big head and almost no throat. Because of their striped and dotted camouflage, they are difficult to distinguish from tree bark.

The Eastern Screech-Owl might well be spotted in woods and playgrounds, and you can see one sunbathing itself within a tree hollow on a cool bright day or by the enthusiastic mob of songbirds whenever they locate them. Another dead giveaway is a stack of pellets.

Scientific Name Megascops asio
Length 16 to 25 cm (6.3 to 9.8 in)
Weight 121 to 244 g (4.3 to 8.6 oz)
Wingspan 48 to 61 cm (18.9 to 24.0 in)

They have a harsh, falling, whiny sound as well as a vibratory trill.

Eastern Screech-Owls consume most small creatures, especially birds, reptiles, insects, mammals, and amphibians, and forage largely during the night as well as during dawn and twilight. Before diving from perch, they usually stay and wait for something to cross.

Since it is unable to excavate its new nests, the Eastern Screech-Owl typically makes use of unoccupied woodpecker nests or other crevices or holes.

Instead of providing nesting stuff, they lay their eggs on whatever garbage exists at the bottom of a structure such as the hollow. They hatch two to six white eggs.

3. Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl

During the entire year, the Great Horned Owl might be observed across New York and North America. They are enormous owls with hefty bodies and fur tufts on their forehead that look similar to ears.

The Great Horned Owl seems to be a gray-brown bird featuring speckles and a white mark on its throat. Their wings are broad and arched, and they make a loud screeching sound when they fly.

It is among the most common owls throughout North America and it can be discovered in a range of habitats, such as woodlands, grasslands, cities, and deserts.

Scientific Name Bubo virginianus
Weight 910 to 2500 g (32.1 to 88.2 oz)
Length 46 to 63 cm (18.1 to 24.8 in)
Wingspan 102 to 118 cm (39.9 to 57.3 in)

These formidable predators feed on birds and animals far larger than themselves. Other raptors, including peregrine falcons, owls, and ospreys, will also be hunted.

Habitat & Food

Small rodents like mice or geese, skunks and insects, hares, carrion, and fish are all part of their diversified diet. They are not choosy eaters and thus will eat more or less everything!

Great Horned Owls construct their nests in high trees and sometimes utilize another species’ nests. They may cover the nest using bark, downy feathers, leaves, or pellets, but they might also keep it bare. They hatch one to four whitish eggs.

4. Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl

Snowy Owls could be discovered in New York during the winter season, however only on the southern end of their winter habitat.

They have striking white feathers with black or brown patterns, golden eyes, and are roughly the size of a crow.

They can be hard to recognize against a snowy background; however, they used to perch on high places, which makes them easier to find. They are typically quiet, but they might utter a harsh croak or piercing whistle during mating season.

Scientific Name Bubo scandiacus
Weight 1600 to 2950 g (56.4 to 104.1 oz)
Length 52 to 71 cm (20.5 to 27.9 in)
Wingspan 126 to 145 cm (49.6 to 57.1 in)

Unlike all other owls, Snowy Owls are primarily diurnal and spend their whole 24-hour warmer months daylight foraging, mostly in the arctic.


They hunt small animals, particularly lemmings, and can consume up to 1600 in a single year. They also hunt flying birds such as ducks and ptarmigan. They will consume squirrels, rabbits, rodents, and birds such as geese and ducks in the winter.

The Snowy Owl nest consists of only a scraped small hole inside the tundra. They select a breezy location where the snow would be pushed aside and stay in the nest for a lengthy period of time. They hatch between 3 and 11 whitish eggs.

5. Barred Owl

Barred Owl

The Barred Owl could be spotted throughout the entirety of New York. These massive stocky species are around the size between geese and crows.

The stomachs of Barred Owls are dotted with simple lines, while the backs and upper chests exhibit horizontal stripes. They have spherical heads, dark eyes, no ear tufts, and a curved tail.

Scientific Name Strix varia
Length 43 to 50 cm (16.9 to 19.7 in)
Weight 470 to 1050 g (16.6 to 37.0 oz)
Wingspan 99 to 110 cm (39.0 to 43.3 in)

The Barred Owl barks a loud hooo hooo noise.

They perch on a taller platform and wait for little critters such as birds, squirrels, voles, and rabbits. They live in large mature woodlands, often near sources of water, and lay one to five white eggs within tree holes.

6. Long-Eared Owl

Long-eared Owl

The Long-eared Owl can sometimes be spotted in New York throughout the year, although after nesting, this might travel far south from the state’s north.

They are medium-sized thin owls, about either the shape of a crow, with just a shocked look.

Long-eared Owls feature brown and black plumage that are spotted, big black, buff cheeks or buff ear tufts, and yellow eyes.

They remain nocturnal and roost within deep forests in areas that are well concealed yet adjacent to the meadow where they may hunt.

Scientific Name Asio otus
Weight 220 to 435 g (7.8 to 15.3 oz)
Length 35 to 40 cm (13.8 to 15.8 in)
Wingspan 90 to 100 cm (35.4 to 39.4 in)

Habitat & Food

Long-eared Owls feed on small animals such as juvenile rats, mice, voles, and rabbits.

They hunt over large fields or grasslands by soaring only just a few feet above the surface and searching for or hearing movements. They deposit 2 to 10 white eggs within stick nests vacated by other birds.

Except for during the mating season, Long-eared Owls were generally ignored. They make low-pitched whistles and hoots, as well as shrieks, whines, and cat-like meows.

7. Short-eared Owl

Short-Eared Owl

After mating season, the Short-eared Owl could be discovered in New York throughout the wintertime following migration from northern states and Canada.

They are around the size of a crow and have very few ear tufts.

Short-eared Owls possess speckled brown, black, and white coloration, a pale face, having black-rimmed yellow eyes. They feature large, short tails and curved wings.

Unlike other owls, Short-eared Owl hunts throughout the day, primarily between sunrise and sunset. They hover low over the land, searching and having to listen for activity from their prey of tiny animals like mice and voles.

Scientific Name Asio flammeus
Weight 206 to 475 g (7.3 to 16.8 oz)
Length 34 to 43 cm (13.4 to 16.9 in)
Wingspan 85 to 103 cm (33.5 to 40.5 in)

Short-eared Owls are particularly unique in that birds construct their own nests via scratching the soil into a cup and filling it with grasses and soft plumage. They hatch between 1 and 11 creamy or whitish eggs.

These owls are not loud; however, during courting, the males will utter multiple hoots, and while guarding the nest, they might bark, whine, or scream.

8. Northern saw-whet Owl

Northern Saw-whet Owl

The Northern Saw-whet Owl could be spotted all across New York. This little owl is roughly the size of a robin.

Northern-Saw-whet, the body of owls are tiny, with huge spherical heads. They are brown, having mottled markings, a spotted head, white face, and yellow eyes.

Scientific Name Aegolius acadicus
Weight 65 to 151 g (2.3 to 5.3 oz)
Length 18 to 21 cm (7.1 to 8.3 in)
Wingspan 42 to 48 cm (16.5 to 18.9 in)

They are diurnal and hunt small animals, particularly mice, in deep woodlands. They build their nests in tree holes left by other birds, such as Pileated Woodpeckers.

They don’t use any other nesting item and rather hatch their eggs mostly in the garbage. They hatch between 4 and 7 whitish eggs.

9. Northern Hawk Owl

Northern Hawk-Owl

The body of this medium-sized owl appears oval in design, with a long tapering tail and vertical banding on the breast.

It is visible during the daylight hours and prefers to perch on lonely tops of trees, searching for prey. These owls mostly inhabit Canada’s boreal woods, but they do spend the winter mostly in the northern United States.

Scientific Name Surnia ulula
Weight 8.5 to 16.0 oz
Length 14.2 to 17.7 in
Wingspan 27.9 to 28.3 in

This usually happens when animal populations across Canada are declining, and they migrate south to find food. Northern Hawk owls have already been sighted around New York, although they are rare.

10. Great Gray Owl

Great Gray Owl

Great Gray owls seem to be lofty owls that really can look huge due to their thick and fluffy plumage. They are significantly lighter than Snowy and Great Horned owls. However, they are still huge and require 6 to 7 small animals every day during the winter.

Great Gray owls have great strength and can break via thick compacted snow to get food beneath. Even snow is strong enough to sustain a person walking on it!

Scientific Name Strix nebulosa
Weight 24.7 to 60.0 oz
Length 24.0 to 33.1 in
Wingspan 53.9 to 60.2 in

Their huge disc-shaped face direct sound to their ears, allowing them to detect even the slightest disturbances produced by possible prey.

This is how they understand just where to look in the snow seeking their food. Great Gray owls seem to be endangered.

Check out this article on Types of Owls in Michigan and Types of Owls in Tennessee.


You’ve now experienced all ten owl species across New York State! If owls are your specialty, birding around New York will not disappoint.

So grab your telescopes, a field guide, and walking boots because it’s time to be ready for a birding trip!


What is the state bird of New York?

A Great Horned Owl, the state’s biggest owl. Owls were usually heard rather than spotted. There are ten types of these fascinating owls throughout New York, with the majority being during the night. Some stay all year, while others come and go.

Last Updated on March 22, 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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