Please use this page as a basic guide to help identify owls common in North America. To start we're focusing on Owls frequently found in (but not limited to) California.
Adult Length: 16 inches
Adult Weight: 16 oz
Diet: Small mammals and birds. Rarely amphibians, reptiles or insects.
Habitat: Open and partially open grasslands, farmland, urban.
Call: Screeeeech. Also beak clacks and hissing.
Nesting: In a tree cavity, building, cave, cliff or nesting box. Breeding season runs January-July.
Notes: Numbers of offspring depend greatly on prey availability and severity of preceding winter. Incredibly prolific rodent hunters.
Barn Owl Sounds:
Great Horned Owl
Adult Length: 22"
Adult Weight: ≈ 3.5 lbs
Diet: Mammals, including larger skunk and rabbit. Birds, including other owls.
Habitat: Forest, woodland, swamp, orchard, riparian, semi-desert, urban.
Call: Hoo-h'HOO-hoo-hoo. Also beak clacks and squawks.
Nesting: Steals or uses abandoned nests of other raptors, tree stumps, cliffs, shredded bark. Does not nest in cavities or nesting boxes. Breeding season is January-July.
Notes: Arctic Great Horned Owls will cache (hide) prey in snow to freeze it, then defrost their prey by "incubating" it.
Western Screech Owl
Adult Length: 8.5"
Adult Weight: ≈ 8 oz
Diet: Insects, small mammals and birds.
Habitat: varied riparian, woodland, forests and urban.
Call: Repetitive coo/whistle in a "bouncing ball" rhythmic pattern (speeds up as it ends). Also barks and trills.
Nesting: Woodpecker holes, tree cavities, nesting boxes.
Notes: A similar species, the Eastern Screech Owl, resides in the eastern half of the US.
Ehrlich, Paul, David Dobkin, and Darryl Wheye. The Birders Handbook. New York: Simon and Schuster/Fireside Books, 1988. Print.
Peeters, Hans. Field Guide to the Owls of California and the West. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2007. Print.
Illustrations and guide by: Sabrina Dolan