these are our owls

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LARGE SIZED OWLS

Eurasian Eagle-Owl

Bubo Bubo

The Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo) is a species of eagle-owl that resides in much of Eurasia. It is also called the European eagle-owl and in Europe, it is occasionally abbreviated to just the eagle-owl.

The Eurasian eagle-owl is found in many habitats but is mostly a bird of mountain regions, coniferous forests, steppes and other relatively remote places, and have occasionally been found near farmland and in park-like settings within European cities

It is a mostly nocturnal predator, hunting for a range of different prey species, predominantly small mammals but also birds of varying sizes, reptiles, amphibians, fish, large insects and other assorted invertebrates. It typically breeds on cliff ledges, in gullies, among rocks or in other concealed locations.

Bengal Eagle-Owl

Bubo Bengalensis

The Indian eagle-owl, also called the rock eagle-owl or Bengal eagle-owl (Bubo bengalensis), is a large horned owl species native to hilly and rocky scrub forests in the Indian Subcontinent. It is splashed with brown and grey, and has a white throat patch with black small stripes. It was earlier treated as a subspecies of the Eurasian eagle-owl. It is usually seen in pairs. It has a deep resonant booming call that may be heard at dawn and dusk.

They are seen in scrub and light to medium forests but are especially seen near rocky places within the mainland of the Indian Subcontinent south of the Himalayas and below 1,500 metres (5,000 ft) elevation. Humid evergreen forest and extremely arid areas are avoided. Bush covered rocky hillocks and ravines, and steep banks of rivers and streams are favourite haunts. It spends the day under the shelter of a bush or rocky projection, or in a large mango or similar thickly foliaged tree near villages.

Their diet through much of the year consists of rodents, but birds seem to be mainly taken towards winter.

Snowy Owl

Nyctea Scandiaca

The snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus) is a large, white owl of the true owl family. It is sometimes also referred to, more infrequently, as the polar owl, white owl and the Arctic owl. Snowy owls are native to the Arctic regions of both North America and the Palearctic, breeding mostly on the tundra.

Most owls sleep during the day and hunt at night, but the snowy owl is often active during the day, especially in the summertime. The snowy owl is both a specialized and generalist hunter.

Its breeding efforts and entirely global population are closely tied to the availability of tundra-dwelling lemmings but in the non-breeding season and occasionally during breeding the snowy owl can adapt to almost any available prey, most often other small mammals and northerly water birds (as well as, opportunistically, carrion). Snowy owls typically nest on a small rise on the ground of the tundra.

Northern Great Horned Owl

Bubo Virginianus Subarticus

This is the palest form of horned owl, with the ground color essentially whitish with a faint buff tinge above; black underside barring variable from indistinct to pronounced, being most often prominent on the upper chest amongst otherwise pale plumage. This race shows no little to no reddish coloration.

Breeding range from Mackenzie, British Columbia region east to the southern Hudson Bay; southern limit unclear but at least reaches to Montana and North Dakota.

lmost all prey are killed by crushing with the owl’s feet or by incidentally stabbing of the talons, though some may be bitten about the face as well. Prey is swallowed whole when possible.

Great Horned Owl

Bubo Virginianus

The great horned owl (Bubo virginianus), also known as the tiger owl (originally derived from early naturalists’ description as the “winged tiger” or “tiger of the air”) or the hoot owl, is a large owl native to the Americas.

It is an extremely adaptable bird with a vast range and is the most widely distributed true owl in the Americas.

Its primary diet is rabbits and hares, rats and mice, and voles, although it freely hunts any animal it can overtake, including rodents and other small mammals, larger mid-sized mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates.

Ural Owl

Strix Uralensis

The Ural owl (Strix uralensis) is a fairly large nocturnal owl. It is a member of the true owl family, Strigidae.

Both its common name and scientific name refer to the Ural Mountains of Russia where the type specimen was collected. However, this species has an extremely broad distribution that extends as far west as much of Scandinavia, montane eastern Europe, and, sporadically, central Europe across the Palearctic broadly through Russia to as far east as Sakhalin and throughout Japan.

The Ural owl is something of a dietary generalist like many members of the Strix genus, but it is usually locally reliant on small mammals, especially small rodents such as voles.

Brown Wood Owl

Strix Leptogrammica

The Brown Wood Owl (Strix leptogrammica) is found in India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Taiwan, and south China. The brown wood owl is a resident breeder in south Asia.

The brown wood owl is medium large (45–57 cm), with upperparts uniformly dark brown, with faint white spotting on the shoulders. The underparts are buff with brown streaking. The facial disc is brown or rufous, edged with white and without concentric barring, and the eyes are dark brown. There is a white neckband. The sexes are similar in appearance.

This species is highly nocturnal and isn’t commonly found in dense forests. It can often be located by the small birds that mob it while it is roosting in a tree. The diet of the brown wood owl consists mainly of small mammals, birds, and reptiles.

Siberian Eagle-Owl

Bubo Bubo Sibiricus

Also known as the western Siberian eagle-owl. This subspecies of the Eurasian eagle-owl is distributed from the Ural Mountains of western Siberia and Bashkiria to the mid Ob River and the western Altai Mountains, north to limits of the taiga, the most northerly distribution known in the species overall.

This subspecies is physically the most distinctive of all the Eurasian eagle-owls, and is sometimes considered the most “beautiful and striking”. It is the most pale of the eagle-owl subspecies; the general coloration is a buffy off-white overlaid with dark markings. The crown, hindneck and underparts are streaked blackish but somewhat sparingly, with the lower breast and belly indistinctly barred, the primary coverts dark, contrasting with rest of the wing. The head, back and shoulders are only somewhat dark unlike in most other subspecies.

Spectacled Owl

Pulsatrix Perspicillata

The spectacled owl (Pulsatrix perspicillata) is a large tropical owl native to the neotropics. It is a resident breeder in forests from southern Mexico and Trinidad, through Central America, south to southern Brazil, Paraguay and northwestern Argentina.

This species is largely nocturnal, starting activity right around the time of last light at dusk and usually being back on their roosts for the day around first light. It is a solitary, unsocial bird, usually roosting singly each day and only peaceable associating with others of their own species for reproductive purposes.

It preys principally on a wide array of mammals, eating almost anything that is nocturnally active. Various rodents may be primary but virtually any type of small mammal in its habitat is vulnerable.

Verreaux's Eagle-Owl

Bubo Lacteus

Verreaux’s eagle-owl (Bubo lacteus), also commonly known as the milky eagle owl or giant eagle owl, is a member of the family Strigidae. This species is widespread in sub-Saharan Africa.

This eagle-owl is a resident primarily of dry, wooded savanna. Verreaux’s eagle-owl is mainly grey in color and is distinguishable from other large owls by its bright pink eyelids, a feature shared with no other owl species in the world.

Verreaux’s eagle-owl is a highly opportunistic predator equipped with powerful talons. Just over half of its known diet is comprised by mammals but equal or even greater numbers of birds and even insects may be hunted locally, along with any other appropriately sized prey that is encountered.

Greyish Eagle-Owl

Bubo Cinerascens

The greyish eagle-owl or vermiculated eagle-owl (Bubo cinerascens) is a rather large owl of the northern part of Sub-Saharan Africa.

It is found in the northern part of Sub-Saharan Africa from Mauritania and Liberia east to Sudan and Somalia. Its habitats include dry rocky deserts and open savannah, as well as lowland forests in Somalia.

Roosts during the day hidden and sites used vary from rocky natural sites such as cliff crevices and boulders to bushes and trees to man-made sites. It feeds on larger insects and other large arthropods as well as vertebrates. It usually hunts from a perch, using a sit and wait technique, but may also hawk insects and sometimes bats in flight.

Turkmenistan Eagle-Owl

Bubo Turcomanus

The Turkmenistan eagle-owl, also known as the steppe eagle-owl, is a subspecies of the Eurasian eagle-owl. It is distributed from Kazakhstan between the Volga and upper Ural Rivers, the Caspian Sea coast and the former Aral Sea.

The plumage background colour is pale, yellowish-buff. Dark longitudinal patterning on the under-parts discontinue above the belly.

This subspecies is unique in that it seems to shun mountainous and obvious rocky habitats in favor of low hills, plateaus, lowlands, steppes, and semideserts at or near sea-level.

Spotted Eagle-Owl

Bubo Africanus

The spotted eagle-owl (Bubo africanus), also called African spotted eagle-owl, and African eagle-owl, is one of the smallest of the eagle owls.

Its prey mainly consists of rodents, small mammals, birds, insects and reptiles. It often swallows its prey whole, with much head-jerking, pausing and resting in between, while a portion of the prey remains inside the mouth, until the prey can finally be swallowed down completely. Undigested substances such as feathers and bone are regurgitated within the next 24 hours of ingestion in the form of a pellet. For prey too large to swallow whole, the owl will tear pieces of meat from the prey, and will also tear shreds to feed nestlings.

Spotted eagle-owls are the most common species of owl found in Southern Africa. They have a healthy population in most parts of the country. They are often referred to as urban owls and will live in close proximity to human habitation.

MEDIUM SIZED OWLS

Tawny Owl

Strix Aluco

The tawny owl or brown owl (Strix aluco) is a stocky, medium-sized owl commonly found in woodlands across much of the Palearctic.

This nocturnal bird of prey hunts a wide variety of prey species, but usually primarily takes small mammals such as rodents. Tawny owls usually hunt by dropping from a perch to seize their prey, which they typically swallow whole. In more urban areas, its diet includes a higher proportion of birds, while in arid subtropics many invertebrates such as insects are taken.

This species typically nests in a tree hollow, wherein they are likely to gain protection of their eggs and young against potential predators. The tawny owl is non-migratory and highly territorial.

Rufous-Legged Owl

Strix Rufipes

The rufous-legged owl (Strix rufipes) is a medium-sized owl with no ear tufts. Its upper parts are rufous brown barred with white with more white on the head and nape. It has a rufous facial disk and dark eyes, and its legs and feet are orange-brown to cinnamon. It reaches sizes of about 33–38 cm long and weighs about 300-400 grams.

Its range stretches from central Chile and west Argentina to Tierra del Fuego and is occasionally spotted on the Falkland Islands. It lives in dense, moist montane forest and semi-open lowland forest where it can catch small mammals, birds, and insects.

It breeds in October and lays 2-3 eggs in a tree hollow.

Its call is a rapid grunting followed by high pitched nasal noises.

Morepork

Ninox Novaeseelandiae

The morepork (Ninox novaeseelandiae), also called the ruru or Tasmanian spotted owl, is a small brown owl found throughout New Zealand and Tasmania.

It has dark brown plumage with prominent pale spots, and golden-yellow eyes. It is generally nocturnal, though sometimes active at dawn and dusk, retiring to roost in secluded spots in the foliage of trees.

The morepork feeds on insects and small vertebrates, hunting by pouncing on them from tree perches.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed the morepork as being of least concern on account of its large range and apparently stable population.

Mottled Owl

Strix Virgata

The mottled owl (Strix virgata) is a medium-sized owl found in Central and South America from Mexico to Brazil and Argentina. The head and back are mottled brown and the underparts whitish, with vertical bars on the chest and throat. The eyes are dark and the head is round and they do not have ear tufts.

They are territorial and found in dry forests and jungles at altitudes of up to 2,500 m (8,200 ft) above sea level.

The mottled owl is nocturnal and spends the day in dense vegetation where it may be mobbed by other birds. Its large eyes are adapted for sight at low levels of light, and its hearing is also acute. It is a predator and at night often perches on a branch beside a glade or at the edge of woodland on the lookout for prey, which may be a small mammal, a bird, reptile or amphibian or a large beetle, grasshopper or other insect.

Northern Hawk-Owl

Surnia Ulula

The northern hawk-owl or northern hawk owl (Surnia ulula) is a medium-sized true owl of the northern latitudes. It is non-migratory and usually stays within its breeding range, though it sometimes irrupts southward. It is one of the few owls that is neither nocturnal nor crepuscular, being active only during the day.

They live mostly in open coniferous forests, or coniferous forests mixed with deciduous species such as larch, birch, poplar, and willow. They are found in muskegs, clearings, swamp valleys, meadows, or recently burnt areas, and generally avoid dense spruce-fir forests. Winter habitat is usually the same as breeding habitat.

The northern hawk-owl feeds on a variety of prey, which can include small rodents to mammals more robust in size, and a variety of birds, a typical diet for many boreal owls.

Long-Eared Owl

Asio Otus

The long-eared owl (Asio otus), also known as the northern long-eared owl or, more informally, as the lesser horned owl or cat owl, is a medium-sized species of owl with an extensive breeding range.

This owl shows a partiality for semi-open habitats, particularly woodland edge, as they prefer to roost and nest within dense stands of wood but prefer to hunt over open ground. The long-eared owl is a somewhat specialized predator, focusing its diet almost entirely on small rodents, especially voles, which quite often compose most of their diet. Under some circumstances, such as population cycles of their regular prey, arid or insular regional habitats or urbanization, this species can adapt fairly well to a diversity of prey, including birds and insects.

The long-eared owl is one of the most widely distributed and most numerous owl species in the world.

Barn Owl

Tyto Alba

The barn owl (Tyto alba) is the most widely distributed species of owl in the world and one of the most widespread of all species of birds. It is also known as the common barn owl.

The barn owl is found almost everywhere in the world except for the polar and desert regions, Asia north of the Himalayas, most of Indonesia, and some Pacific islands.

The barn owl is nocturnal over most of its range, but in Great Britain and some Pacific islands, it also hunts by day. Barn owls specialize in hunting animals on the ground and nearly all of their food consists of small mammals which they locate by sound, their hearing being very acute. They usually mate for life unless one of the pair is killed, when a new pair bond may be formed.

African Wood Owl

Strix Woodfordii

The African wood owl or Woodford’s owl (Strix woodfordii) is a typical owl from the genus Strix in the family Strigidae which is widespread in sub-Saharan Africa.

It lives mainly in forest and woodland though it sometimes inhabits plantations.

It is strictly nocturnal and eats mostly insects but will also eat reptiles, small mammals, and other birds which are mostly caught by swooping from a perch.

During the day it roosts singly or in pairs in dense cover, high in trees, calling begins after dusk.

SMALL SIZED OWLS

Indian Scops Owl

Otus Bakkamoena

The Indian scops owl (Otus bakkamoena) is a resident species of owl native to South Asia.

The species occurs from eastern Arabia through the Indian Subcontinent, except the far north.

The Indian scops owl is nocturnal. Through its natural camouflage, it is very difficult to see in daytime, but may sometimes be located by the small birds that mob it while it is roosting in a tree. It feeds mainly on insects. The call is a soft single note. It nests in tree holes, laying 3–5 eggs.

Eurasian Scops Owl

Otus Scops

The Eurasian scops owl (Otus scops), also known as the European scops owl or just scops owl, is a small owl.

This bird breeds in southern Europe eastwards into western and central Asia. It is migratory, wintering in southernmost Europe and sub-Saharan Africa. It is rare any distance north of its breeding range, usually occurring as a spring overshoot. It is unlikely that this nocturnal owl would be found outside the breeding season when it is not calling. It breeds in open woodland, parks and gardens.

It takes small prey such as insects and other invertebrates. It is largely nocturnal.

Tropical Screech Owl

Otus Choliba

The tropical screech owl (Megascops choliba) is a small species of owl in the family Strigidae.

It is found throughout South America (including Trinidad and Tobago), except in the Andes, the arid Pacific lowlands, and the far south. Its distribution also extends into southern Central America in Costa Rica and Panama. It is generally common – in large parts of its range among the most common species of owls and likely the most common screech owl of the tropics. It occurs in a wide range of wooded habitats, ranging from arid Caatinga to dense rainforest, and even city parks.

The tropical screech owl forages from a low level perch and captures prey on the ground, branches, or on wing. This species primarily preys on large arthropods, comprising about 66% of prey, and small vertebrates, comprising about 33%.

Ferruginous Pygmy Owl

Glaudicium Brasilianum

The ferruginous pygmy owl (Glaucidium brasilianum) is a small owl that breeds in south-central Arizona and southern Texas in the United States, south through Mexico and Central America, to South America into Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina.

This species is crepuscular, but often hunts by day. It hunts a variety of birds, lizards, mammals, and insects. The flight is often undulating in motion, similar to that of many woodpecker species.

The call is a whistled hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo, usually in E flat. It is easily imitated, and is used by birdwatchers to attract small birds intent on mobbing the pygmy owls.

Northern White-Faced Owl

Ptilopsis Leucotis

The northern white-faced owl (Ptilopsis leucotis) is a species of owl in the family Strigidae. It is found in a band across Africa between the Sahara and the Equator.

This owl has a rather notable defense mechanism. When faced with a similar-sized predator (like another owl slightly larger than it) the bird flares its wings to appear larger. When faced with something much larger than itself (such as an eagle), it pulls its feathers inwards, elongates its body, and narrows its eyes to thin slits. It is thought that it uses this ability to camouflage itself.

Boreal Owl

Aegolius Funereus

The boreal owl (Aegolius funereus) is a small owl. In Europe, it is typically known as Tengmalm’s owl after Swedish naturalist Peter Gustaf Tengmalm or, more rarely, Richardson’s owl after Sir John Richardson.

The boreal owl is an unsociable nocturnal owl. Its call is similar in sound to the “winnowing” of the North American Wilson’s snipe. This species is not normally migratory, but in some autumns significant numbers move further south.

This small owl eats mainly voles and other mammals but also birds as well as insects and other invertebrates. It is largely nocturnal, though in the northernmost parts of its range, it is forced to hunt during daylight because of the very short nights in summer.

Burrowing Owl

Athene Cuniculara

The burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia) is a small, long-legged owl found throughout open landscapes of North and South America.

Burrowing owls can be found in grasslands, rangelands, agricultural areas, deserts, or any other open dry area with low vegetation. They nest and roost in burrows, such as those excavated by prairie dogs.

Unlike most owls, burrowing owls are often active during the day, although they tend to avoid the midday heat. Like many other kinds of owls, though, burrowing owls do most of their hunting from dusk until dawn, when they can use their night vision and hearing to their advantage.

Living in open grasslands as opposed to forests, the burrowing owl has developed longer legs that enable it to sprint, as well as fly, when hunting.

Western Screech Owl

Otis Kennicotti

The western screech owl is a small owl native to North and Central America, closely related to the eastern screech owl.

The western screech owl is native to Canada, United States, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua. Its habitat includes temperate forests, subtropical and tropical montane forests, shrubland, desert, rural fields, and even suburban parks and gardens.

These birds wait on perches to swoop down on unsuspecting prey; they may also catch insects in flight. They are active at dawn, night, or near dusk, using their excellent hearing and night vision to locate prey. Their diet consists mainly of small mammals such as mice or rats, birds, and large insects; however they are opportunistic predators, even taking small trout at night.

Little Owl

Athene Noctua

The little owl (Athene noctua) is a bird that inhabits much of the temperate and warmer parts of Europe, the Palearctic east to Korea, and north Africa. It was introduced into Britain at the end of the nineteenth century and into the South Island of New Zealand in the early twentieth century.

It is a small, cryptically coloured, mainly nocturnal species and is found in a range of habitats including farmland, woodland fringes, steppes and semi-deserts.

It feeds on insects, earthworms, other invertebrates and small vertebrates.

Males hold territories which they defend against intruders. This owl is a cavity nester and a clutch of about four eggs is laid in spring.

Spotted Owlet

Athene Brahma

The spotted owlet (Athene brama) is a small owl which breeds in tropical Asia from mainland India to Southeast Asia. A common resident of open habitats including farmland and human habitation, it has adapted to living in cities.

The species shows great variation including clinal variation in size and forms a superspecies with the very similar little owl.

This species is nocturnal but is sometimes seen in the day. When disturbed from their daytime site, they bob their head and stare at intruders. It can often be located by the small birds that mob it while it is perched in a tree. It hunts a variety of insects and small vertebrates.

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