Do you live in Georgia and have heard that classic “hooting” of an Owl recently near your home? Here, we’re going to take a look at 8 types of Owl you can find in Georgia.
We’ll help you identify them by both sight and sound, explore their natural habitat, diet, breeding habits, and more. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll be an expert on all of Georgia’s Owl species!
In a hurry? No problem – here’s a list of all 8 species of Owl you can find living in Georgia at any given time of the year.
- Burrowing Owl
- Northern Saw-whet Owl
- Eastern Screech Owl
- Snowy Owl
- Barred Owl
- Great Horned Owl
- Barn Owl
- Short-Eared Owl
Next, we’ll take a closer look at each of these majestic Owls in more detail.
The Burrowing Owl is a small, long-legged Owl native to the Americas.
They are found in open grasslands and prairies and get their name from the fact that they often nest in burrows underground, which they may dig themselves or use abandoned burrows of other animals such as prairie dogs.
These Owls are active during the day, and are known for their distinctive “bouncing” gait as they walk.
They have a round head, long legs, and a small body, and are typically brown or beige in color with white spotting on their chest.
Burrowing Owls are considered a species of conservation concern in many parts of their range due to habitat loss and other factors.
Burrowing Owls are found in a number of states in the United States, including Georgia.
In Georgia, these Owls are considered a species of special concern, which means that they are not currently listed as threatened or endangered, but they are considered to be at risk due to declining populations.
Burrowing Owls are found in a variety of habitats in Georgia, including grasslands, agricultural fields, and airports.
They typically prefer open areas with short vegetation, as this allows them to see potential predators and prey.
In Georgia, these Owls are most commonly found in the southern and western parts of the state.
Threats to Burrowing Owls in Georgia include habitat loss due to development and conversion of grasslands to other land uses, as well as the use of pesticides and other chemicals in agricultural areas that can impact their food sources.
Conservation efforts for these Owls in Georgia include habitat restoration and protection, as well as education and outreach to raise awareness about the importance of these birds.
Northern Saw-whet Owl
The Northern Saw-whet Owl is a small Owl native to North America.
They are one of the smallest Owl species found in North America, with a length of around 7-8 inches and a wingspan of around 16-20 inches.
They are known for their distinctive “saw-whet” call, which sounds like a repetitive, high-pitched “toot.”
They are nocturnal and feed on small mammals, birds, and insects.
The Northern Saw-whet Owl is found commonly throughout the state of Georgia, as well as the rest of the eastern United States.
They are most often spotted in forests and wooded areas, but can also be found in urban parks and gardens.
In Georgia, they can be found in a variety of habitats including deciduous forests, mixed woodlands, and coniferous forests.
They are most active at night and are known to be quite vocal, particularly during the breeding season.
They feed on a variety of small prey, including mice, voles, and small birds.
The Northern Saw-whet Owl breeds in the spring and summer months, with most eggs being laid in April and May.
The female typically lays a clutch of 3-7 eggs, which she incubates for about 25-30 days. The male brings food to the female while she is incubating the eggs and caring for the young.
The chicks are altricial, meaning they are born helpless and require extensive parental care.
Both the male and female care for the young, with the female spending most of her time brooding the chicks and the male bringing food to the nest.
The chicks fledge (leave the nest) at around 25-30 days old and are able to fly at around 5-6 weeks old.
Eastern Screech Owl
Eastern Screech Owls are found throughout much of Georgia, as they are native to much of the eastern United States.
They are adapted to life in wooded areas and can be found in a variety of habitats within the state, including forests, parks, and gardens. They are nocturnal birds, which means they are most active at night.
During the day, they roost in tree cavities or nest boxes, and at night, they hunt for food.
In Georgia, Eastern Screech Owls can be found year-round, although they may be more difficult to spot during the winter months when they are more likely to roost in tree cavities or nest boxes.
Eastern Screech Owls are small Owls, measuring only about 6-10 inches in length and weighing just a few ounces.
They are smaller than most other Owl species and can be identified by their reddish-brown or gray plumage, which helps them blend in with tree bark and other natural surroundings.
They also have a distinctive “ear” tuft on the top of
Eastern Screech Owls are carnivorous birds that feed on a variety of small animals, including insects, mice, voles, shrews, small birds, and other small mammals.
They are skilled hunters and use their excellent vision and hearing to locate prey in the dark. Eastern Screech Owls are opportunistic feeders and will take whatever prey is available to them.
They may hunt from a perch or fly down to the ground to catch their prey. They may also capture insects in mid-air.
Eastern Screech Owls have a varied diet and may switch between different prey species depending on what is available in their habitat.
They are known to eat insects, such as beetles, moths, and crickets, as well as small mammals, such as mice, voles, and shrews. They may also eat small birds, such as sparrows and finches.
Eastern Screech Owls have strong talons and a powerful beak, which they use to capture and kill their prey. They swallow their prey whole and then digest it in their stomach.
Eastern Screech Owls typically breed in the spring, and the female lays a clutch of 2-4 eggs.
The eggs are incubated for about 25 days, and both the male and female participate in incubating the eggs and caring for the young. Once the eggs hatch, the chicks are altricial, meaning they are born helpless and require a lot of care from their parents.
The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge (leave the nest) when they are about 4-6 weeks old.
Eastern Screech Owls are known for their distinctive, trilled calls, which they use to communicate with each other and to establish territory. During the breeding season, male Eastern Screech Owls often perch on a high point and sing to attract a mate.
Eastern Screech Owls are monogamous and often mate for life. They are also resourceful nesters and may use the same nest site year after year.
It is uncommon to see Snowy Owls in Georgia, as they are native to the Arctic regions of North America and Eurasia.
However, it is possible that a Snowy Owl could occasionally be spotted in Georgia, particularly during the winter months.
This is because Snowy Owls are known to undertake irregular migrations, and they may move southward in search of food if their normal prey is scarce.
It is also possible that a Snowy Owl could be found in Georgia as a result of being displaced by storms or other environmental factors.
If you do see a Snowy Owl in Georgia, it is important to remember to observe it from a distance and not disturb it, as it is illegal to hunt or harm these birds in the United States.
Snowy Owls are known for their striking appearance, with bright white plumage and yellow eyes. They are also known for their ability to fly silently, which allows them to surprise their prey.
In terms of size, the Snowy Owl measures around 25-inches in length and has an average wingspan of 53-inches.
The Snowy Owl’s diet consists mostly of small mammals such as lemmings, voles, and hares.
They are adapted to living in cold climates, and their diet reflects the availability of prey in their natural habitat.
Snowy Owls hunt primarily by sitting on a perch and watching for prey, or by flying low over the ground and using their keen vision and hearing to locate prey.
They will also occasionally eat birds, such as ducks, geese, and other small birds. Snowy Owls are carnivorous and will eat whatever prey is most abundant in their environment.
In some cases, they have been known to eat fish or other small animals if their usual prey is not available.
Snowy Owls breed during the summer months in their Arctic habitat. They nest on the ground, usually on a hill or ridge, and the female typically lays a clutch of 2-14 eggs.
Both the male and female help to incubate the eggs, and the chicks hatch after about a month. The young Snowy Owls, or Owlets, are covered in white down when they hatch, and they grow rapidly, reaching adult size in about 2-3 months.
The male Snowy Owl brings food to the nest for the female and the Owlets, while the female stays with the chicks to keep them warm and protect them from predators.
The Owlets fledge, or leave the nest, at about 8-9 weeks of age, and they become independent at about 12 weeks. Snowy Owls are typically monogamous, and they usually mate for life.
Barred Owls are a common species of Owl found in Georgia and throughout much of North America.
They are a medium-sized Owl with a round head and no ear tufts. The upperparts of their body are brown with black and white vertical bars, and their underparts are white with horizontal brown streaks.
They have a distinctive call that sounds a lot like someone shouting “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you-all?”
This call is most often heard at night in wooded areas. Barred Owls prefer to live in mature forests, but they can also be found in urban and suburban areas with large trees.
Barred Owls have a varied diet and will feed on a wide range of prey, including small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects.
Some of the small mammals that they may eat include mice, voles, and shrews. They also prey on birds such as ducks, geese, and other small birds.
Reptiles and amphibians that may be on the menu for Barred Owls include snakes, lizards, and frogs.
In addition to these animals, Barred Owls will also eat insects such as beetles, crickets, and grasshoppers. They are opportunistic hunters and will take whatever prey is available to them.
Barred Owls typically breed in the late winter or early spring, with the exact timing varying depending on location. They are monogamous and will form long-term pair bonds.
The male performs elaborate courtship displays for the female, including calling and offering food.
Once a pair has bonded, they will begin building a nest together. Barred Owls will use a variety of nest sites, including natural cavities in trees, abandoned nests of other birds, and nest boxes.
The female does most of the incubation of the eggs, while the male brings her food.
The eggs are incubated for about 28-33 days, and once the chicks hatch, both parents help to feed and care for them.
The chicks are altricial, meaning they are born helpless and require a lot of care from their parents.
They fledge, or leave the nest, at about 5-6 weeks of age, but they are dependent on their parents for food for several more weeks.
Great Horned Owl
Great Horned Owls are a common species of Owl that can be found in many parts of Georgia.
They are known for their distinctive “horns” or tufts of feathers on their head, as well as their large, yellow eyes and powerful talons.
These Owls are found in a variety of habitats, including forests, deserts, grasslands, and even urban areas.
Most active at dawn and dusk, the Great Horned Owl can often be heard calling to one another with their distinctive “hoo-hoo” call.
Great Horned Owls are carnivorous birds of prey, and their diet consists mainly of small mammals such as rodents, rabbits, and hares.
They are also known to prey on birds, reptiles, amphibians, and occasionally fish. These Owls are opportunistic hunters and will take whatever prey is most readily available in their habitat.
Great Horned Owls are skilled at detecting their prey even in low light conditions, thanks to their keen eyesight and excellent hearing.
They are able to locate their prey by sound, and can even hear the movement of small mammals under the snow.
Once they have located their prey, the Great Horned Owl uses its sharp talons to capture and kill it.
Great Horned Owls typically breed between December and April, with the exact timing varying depending on the location.
The male Owl begins the courtship process by calling to the female and presenting her with food.
The female responds by calling back and performing a courtship display, which may involve bowing and spreading her wings. If the male is successful in attracting a mate, the two Owls will begin building a nest together.
Great Horned Owls typically use the abandoned nests of other large birds, such as hawks or crows, as a base for their own nest.
They may also use natural cavities in trees or cliffs, or may even build a nest on the ground if no other suitable site is available.
The female lays a clutch of one to five eggs, which she incubates for about a month.
Both the male and female help to care for the young Owls, known as “Owlets,” by bringing them food and protecting them from predators.
The Owlets fledge, or leave the nest, when they are about eight to ten weeks old.
Barn Owls are found in a variety of habitats throughout Georgia, including forests, grasslands, and agricultural areas.
One of the most instantly recognizable species out there, the Barn Owl is known for its distinctive appearance, with a heart-shaped facial disc and a distinctive white, brown, and black coloring.
They are also known for their distinctive call, which is a long, drawn-out “whee-oo” sound. In terms of size, the Barn Owl measures around 14-inches in length and has an average wingspan of 44-inches.
Barn Owls have a diet that consists almost exclusively of small mammals, such as mice, rats, voles, and other rodents.
They are skilled hunters and are able to locate their prey using their keen senses, particularly their excellent hearing.
Barn Owls have a specialized facial structure that helps them to locate their prey even in total darkness.
They have a flat, heart-shaped facial disc that is surrounded by a ring of feathers, which helps to funnel sound waves to their ears.
They also have a highly developed sense of hearing and can detect the slightest movement of their prey, even underground.
Once they locate their prey, barn Owls are able to capture it with their sharp talons. In addition to small mammals, barn Owls may also occasionally eat birds, reptiles, and insects.
Short-eared Owls are a species of Owl that can be found in Georgia.
They are medium-sized Owls with a wingspan of about 3 feet and they have distinctive, ear-like tufts of feathers on the top of their head, which give them their name.
They are easily identified by their brown and black plumage along with a white, heart-shaped face disk.
Short-eared Owls are found in a variety of habitats, including grasslands, marshes, and meadows. These Owls are known for their graceful, buoyant flight, which is characterized by alternating flaps and glides.
They are also known for their distinctive calls, which sound like a series of hoots or whistles.
Short-eared Owls are carnivorous birds that primarily feed on small mammals, such as voles, rats, mice, and rabbits. They may also occasionally eat birds, insects, and reptiles.
These Owls hunt primarily at dawn and dusk, using their keen senses of hearing and vision to locate their prey.
They are able to locate their prey by sound and can even locate prey underground by detecting the vibrations made by the movement of their prey.
Once they have located their prey, short-eared Owls will use their sharp talons to capture and kill it. They will then tear their prey into smaller pieces using their sharp beak and eat it.
There you have it – 8 types of Owl that you can spot in Georgia. The vast majority of these Owls are nocturnal, so you’ll need to stay up pretty late if you hope to hear or see one.
However, the late night is totally worth it as these are some of the most majestic birds of prey you’ll ever see in all of North America.