There are more than 200 known species of Strigiformes (Owls). They are solitary and nocturnal birds of prey. They are found in all continents except Antarctica hunting small mammals, birds and insects. They may look mean, but if you analyze closely each species body anatomy you will be surprised to find out that owls are indeed beautiful birds. Below is a compilation of popular owl species that are mean-looking but at the same time adorable.
Striped Owl (Asio clamator)
This medium-sized owl is found in South America and Central America. It bears a large, complex and asymmetrical ear tufts as well as a brownish-white facial disk rimmed. Striped owl has a black beak and cinnamon-colored eyes. Its upperparts are yellowish-brown striped with grimy brown. Its body anatomy include: Length 30-38 cm, wingspan 22.8 – 29.4 cm and weight 320-546 g. It lives in savannas, open or semi-open grassland, small groves and bushes. Striped owl’s diet includes: large insects, small mammals, reptiles and birds.
Barn Owl (Tyto alba)
The Barn Owl also referred to as Common Barn Owl is the most widespread species of owl. It is found on all continents except Antarctica and inhabits open lands, heaths, caves, buildings, wells and thick foliage. It is a pale, long-winged and long-legged owl that can reach up to 25-45 cm in length with a wingspan of about 75-100 cm. This owl has a whitish with a brownish edge facial disk and white with few black spot it too has a an off-white colored beak and yellowish to brownish feet. Its diet includes: small rodents, mice, shrews, and rats.
Philippine Eagle-Owl (Bubo philippensis)
The Philippine Eagle Owl is the largest known Philippine owl. Known locally as “kuwago”, it can grow up to 40-50 cm in length, and a wingspan of about 35 cm. This owl is found inhabiting near lakes and lowland jungles of Luzon, Samar, Catanduanes, Leyte, Bohol and Mindanao. It has small ear tufts, brownish facial disk and yellow eyes. It too has a dark brown wings and tail with whitish underparts. Based on its big feet and claws. it feeds on small mammals and rodents that include mice and rats.
Great Grey Owl or Lapland Owl (Strix nebulosa)
It is among the world’s largest owl found from Alaska the Northern Rocky Mountains, and across Canada living in forested habitats. Some species are also endemic in northern Europe and Asia. It has a large head and yellow eyes with fluffy plumage. This owl also has a long tail and wings with heavily-feathered feet. Its wingspan can reach to about 152 cm and can grow as much as 61-84 cm in length. It primarily feeds on rodents, rats, mice, squirrels, rabbits and at times hunt for birds.
Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)
A common owl found in America and also be found in South America and the Arctic living in woods, farmland and in suburbs. One main feature of this owl is its “horned” tuft feathers with big yellow-orange eyes. It has a pale gray upperparts with striped feather upper breast. The feet are well-feathered up to the toes. It can reach up to 18-25 cm long and carries a wingspan of about 1 -1.5 meters.
Common Scops Owl (Otus scops)
It is a small species of owl with yellow eyes and ear tufts. It has a gray-buff feathers with patches of black. The common Scops owl is found throughout Southern Europe, Central Asia and in some parts of North Africa. Its habitat includes: parks, open woodlands and plantations. It can grow up to about 20 to 30 cm and feed mostly on insects, small lizards and frogs.
Northern Hawk Owl (Surnia ulula)
It is a medium sized owl that usually grows from 35-43 cm long with a wingspan of about 69-82 cm. it is endemic in the forests of North America and Eurasia. This yellow-eyed owl has a rounded head with dark brown upperparts and a striped tail and underparts. Its diet includes: small mammals such as lemmings and voles. At times it hunts for birds, frogs and fish.
Barred Owl (Strix varia)
This large owl with pale face and beard, no ear tufts is also known as wood owl or hoot owl. It has dark rings in its facial disk with yellow beak and brown eyes. The upperparts bare patches of gray-brown and a light colored underparts. The legs and feet are covered in feathers up to the talons. It can measure up to 44 cm long and has a wingspan of about 112 cm. Barred owl lives in dense woods across Canada, United States and as far as Central America. It feeds mostly on mice, but at times hunt for rabbits, foxes and also birds like geese and doves.
Boreal Owl (Aegolius funereus)
This small owl species with no ear tufts is found throughout Canada and Alaska and as far as Eurasia. It has a white facial disk outlined with black, a yellow bill and eyes, back parts are brown with bold white spotting, a dirty white with dark brown blemish under parts and its legs and toes are completely feathered. Boreal owl can grow up to 21-28 cm. long, can weigh up to 93-215 grams and a wingspan of about 55-62 cm. This owl diet includes: small mammals, birds, and insects.
Northern Saw-Whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus)
This owl species has a very small body and a short tail. Its large head lacks an ear tufts because of its an asymmetrical skull. It too nave a brownish facial disk mark with whitish radials around the edge, which becomes paler around the eye region. The Saw-whet owl eyes are large and bright yellow-orange and it possesses a black bill. It grows up to 18-21 cm in length, weighs around 65-151 g and can have a wingspan of 42-48 cm. It feeds mainly on mice, frogs, insects, moles, bats and small birds like; sparrows, swallows and kinglets.
Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus)
Snowy owls are the largest owl species in North America. A large white owl with some scattered spots, black bill and yellow eyes. The snowy owl can grow up to 50-68 cm in length and can weigh up to 1.6 to 2 kg. It hunts and prey on small rodents, rabbits, hares, ducks and geese.
Ethiopian Eagle Owl (Bubo capensis)
This large-eared owl has dark brown with buff spotting apparatus coupled with creamy-buff under-parts laced with heavy dark blotching. It also has beige facial disk and orange-yellow eyes. Found mostly in the mountainous areas and rocky gorges of Ethiopia and South Africa. This owl can grow up to 48-58 cm and can weigh up to 900-1800 g. Its diet includes: birds, frogs, reptiles and mammals the size of hare.