14 Owls of Oregon

Welcome to the fascinating world of owls in Oregon, where these mysterious nocturnal creatures roam the forests and woodlands. From the haunting calls of the Barred Owl to the stealthy flights of the Great Horned Owl, these majestic birds captivate both nature enthusiasts and scientists alike.

Discover the diverse species that call Oregon home, such as the Western Screech Owl, Northern Pygmy-Owl, Northern Spotted Owl, and Flammulated Owl. Join us on an owl-centric journey as we delve into their intriguing behaviors, unique adaptations, and conservation efforts to protect these magnificent creatures.

1. Great Horned Owl

  • Scientific name: Bubo virginianus
  • Life span: 25 – 50 years
  • Size: 43 to 64 cm (17 to 25 in)
  • Weight: 1200 to 1600 g (2.64 to 3.52 lbs)
  • Wingspan: 91 to 153 cm (3ft 0in to 5ft 0in)
  • Status: Least Concern

The Great Horned Owl is a versatile species, thriving in various habitats with its mesmerizing brown-speckled feathers. Renowned for its nocturnal lifestyle, it blends seamlessly into diverse environments.

Found from North America to Brazil, its distinctive “horns” are actually feathered projections called plumicorns, whose purpose remains a subject of speculation. They may aid in communication or serve as visual markers. Further research is needed to fully understand this intriguing feature.

A suspicious-looking Great Horned Owl has spotted the cameraman

Great Horned Owls, renowned early breeders, select nesting spots by January. Males perform aerial displays and stomping behaviors to attract mates. They repurpose abandoned nests of larger birds and choose diverse sites like caves and cliffs.

These adaptable predators have a versatile diet, primarily consisting of small mammals in Oregon but also encompassing birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects.

Despite population declines due to human activities like shootings, trapping, and collisions, they are not currently classified as threatened. Illegal poaching remains a persistent threat due to historical conflicts with farmers and hunters.

2. American Barn Owl

  • Scientific name: Tyto furcata
  • Life span: 10 years
  • Size: 34 to 38 cm (13 to 15 in)
  • Weight: 400 to 600 g (0.88 to 1.3 lbs)
  • Wingspan: 29 to 36 cm (11 to 14 in)
  • Status: Least Concern

The American Barn Owl is a captivating and enigmatic avian species. Its ethereal appearance and nocturnal nature add to its mystique. Belonging to a subspecies group, its delicate pale brown upper body contrasts with the creamy white tones on its face, chest, and belly.

This unique owl’s striking physical attributes and fascinating facial features have inspired tales and legends, connecting it to mystical narratives.

The American Barn Owl and its otherworldly look

During the nesting season from March to June, they form monogamous pairs, with males diligently searching for suitable nesting spots.

In Oregon, they primarily feed on small mammals like voles, shrews, and mice, using their unique asymmetrically placed ears to locate prey by sound. Although their diet may also include small birds and insects, the agricultural landscape of Oregon provides an abundance of small rodents.

While not globally threatened, the American Barn Owl’s North American population has declined due to pesticide and rodenticide use, which contaminates their food sources and results in significant fatalities. However, these resilient birds have shown the ability to recover from losses in the short term.

3. Barred Owl

  • Scientific name: Strix varia
  • Life span: 8 years
  • Size: 40 to 63 cm (15 to 25 in)
  • Weight: 610 to 1,150 g (1.34 to 2.54 lb)
  • Wingspan: 96 to 125 cm (38 to 49 in)
  • Status: Least Concern

A study of 158 marked Barred Owls reveals their territorial behavior within small, non-migratory ranges up to 6 miles. Despite limited territories, they have a widespread distribution in the eastern US and southern Canada. Recognizable by their brownish-grey feathers with dark stripes on their underparts, Barred Owls are remarkable birds..

A puffy Barred Owl with blank eyes taking a break on a mossy branch

Like American Barn Owls, Barred Owls form lifelong monogamous pairs during mating season. Courtship rituals involve males spreading their wings, awaiting female acceptance in February. These devoted owls construct nests in hollow tree trunks within dense forests.

Barred Owls have a diverse diet, focusing on small mammals like mice and voles. They also prey on smaller birds, reptiles, and insects. Occasionally, they target larger prey such as rabbits and squirrels. They locate their quarry using acute hearing near forest rivers and wetlands, adapting by scavenging when food is scarce.

With a global population of around 3 million, Barred Owls are widespread in North America and are classified as “Least Concern” by the IUCN. However, they face threats such as prey contamination and the destruction of their forest habitats.

4. Short-eared Owl

  • Scientific name: Asio flammeus
  • Life span: 12 years
  • Size: 34 to 43 cm (13 to 17 in)
  • Weight: 206 to 475 g (7.3 to 16.8 oz)
  • Wingspan:  85 to 110 cm (33 to 43 in)
  • Status: Least Concern

The Short-Eared Owl is a widespread avian species that flourishes in diverse environments worldwide. With its small black beak, mottled brown body, and striking wings and tail featuring distinct brown bars, it boasts a unique appearance. Unlike most owls, this species prefers hunting during the day, setting it apart with its diurnal habits.

A Short-Eared Owl sitting on a grassy field

During breeding season in March, Short-Eared Owls engage in serial mating and exhibit a unique social structure, living in flocks. Unlike other owls, they nest on the ground in low-vegetated areas like prairies and meadows.

Their diet includes small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and birds. They hunt opportunistically during daylight hours in grasslands and open habitats.

Despite population declines from habitat destruction and vehicle collisions, there is hope as the species expands globally. Currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List, conservation efforts are still necessary for their sustained recovery.

5. Long-eared Owl

  • Scientific name: Asio otus
  • Life span: 10 to 27 years
  • Size: 31 to 40 cm (12 to 16 in)
  • Weight: 160 to 435 g (5.6 to 15.3 oz)
  • Wingspan: 86 to 102 cm (2ft 10in to 3ft 4in)
  • Status: Least Concern

The Long-eared Owl showcases impressive camouflage skills, effortlessly blending into pine tree foliage with its intricate brown and black feathers. With a global presence, this species thrives in diverse habitats.

Its haunting calls, capable of traveling long distances, create a distinctive and recognizable auditory experience in the depths of dense forests, captivating those fortunate enough to explore its enchanting realms.

This Long-Eared Owl seems like it was surprised by the cameraman

During breeding season, male Long-Eared Owls establish territories using distinctive singing and wing-flapping patterns. They repurpose hawk nests or occupy tree trunks with cavities as nests.

Their diet includes small mammals, insects, and small birds. Facing challenges from habitat destruction and vehicle encounters, their population declines, but they are expanding globally.

Despite obstacles, the Long-Eared Owl is classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List. With exceptional camouflage and haunting calls, they captivate nature enthusiasts in wooded areas.

6. Northern Saw-whet Owl

  • Scientific name: Aegolius acadicus
  • Life span: 7 to 17 years
  • Size: 17 to 22 cm (6.7 to 8.7 in)
  • Weight: 54 to 151 g (1.9 to 5.3 oz)
  • Wingspan: 42 to 56.3 cm (16.5 to 22.2 in)
  • Status: Least Concern

The Northern Saw-Whet Owl, a petite species found in North America, including Oregon, captivates with its elusive nature. With a circular cream-colored face, streaks of brown, and striking yellow eyes, its appearance is unique and captivating.

Its delicate white underbelly with intricate brown markings contrasts with its deep brown back and wings adorned with brilliant white spots. The name “Northern Saw-Whet Owl” originates from its saw-like call.

A sleepy looking Northen-Saw whet owl sitting on a branch.

The Northern Saw-Whet Owl, a petite avian species, forms monogamous pairs during the breeding season, typically starting in March. Males may engage in polygamous mating when prey resources are abundant. These owls commonly nest in pre-existing holes or man-made nest boxes, showcasing resourceful nesting behavior.

In Oregon, they sustain themselves primarily by preying on small mammals such as voles, mice, and shrews. Their diet also includes insects, birds, and other small creatures. Equipped with keen hunting skills, they use their sharp talons and beaks to capture prey, even in confined spaces, and are capable of tackling larger creatures.

Despite facing threats from habitat loss and competition for nesting sites, the Northern Saw-Whet Owl is currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List, indicating its relatively stable conservation status.

7. Burrowing Owl

  • Scientific name: Athene cunicularia
  • Life span: 6-8 years
  • Size: 8-11 inches (20-28 cm)
  • Weight: 5.3-8.5 oz (150-240 g)
  • Wingspan: 20-24 inches (51-61 cm)
  • Status: Least Concern

The Burrowing Owl is a captivating species found in North and South America. With long legs and a small stature, they take refuge in burrows created by prairie dogs and other underground mammals. These owls are active both day and night, providing an enthralling sight for birdwatchers. A fascinating fact is their habit of decorating their burrows with manure and animal dung to attract insects, which become a delectable feast for them.

A couple of Burrowing Owls peeking out from their hole

In Oregon, the Burrowing Owl stands out with its unique nesting behavior. These owls cleverly create cozy underground burrows in the soil, offering protection from the elements. They adapt by repurposing abandoned burrows made by other mammals.

Burrowing Owls in Oregon have a diverse diet, enjoying insects, small mammals, and occasional reptiles. Their hunting skills, aided by sharp talons and keen eyesight, are impressive.

Despite conservation challenges, dedicated efforts by conservationists and local communities have safeguarded the owl’s habitats in Oregon. Their work creates safe spaces and raises awareness about preserving these unique ecosystems.

8. Snowy Owl

  • Scientific name: Bubo scandiacus
  • Life span: 9-10 years
  • Size: 20-28 inches (52-71 cm)
  • Weight: 3.5-6.5 lb (1600-2950 g)
  • Wingspan: 4.2-4.8 ft (130-150 cm)
  • Status: Vulnerable

The Snowy Owl, a majestic creature of the Arctic, captivates with its striking appearance. Its radiant white plumage blends seamlessly with the snowy landscape, while its yellow eyes exude wisdom. Interestingly, male Snowy Owls display a touch of glamour with dark markings resembling a spotted tuxedo, enhancing their already stunning presence.

This Snowy Owl seems to have spotted the cameraman

The Snowy Owl carefully selects nesting grounds on the Arctic tundra, sometimes reusing abandoned homes of other birds. Bound by monogamy, they faithfully return to the same sites each year, symbolizing loyalty in the icy wilderness.

Snowy Owls have an adaptable palate, enjoying lemmings as their main prey but also indulging in rodents, birds, and even fish. They adapt to the changing environment of the Arctic.

Unfortunately, Snowy Owls face challenges in their frozen realm. Declining populations have led to their classification as “Vulnerable” by the IUCN. Habitat loss and climate change disrupt their delicate balance. Once coveted for their majestic feathers, these enchanting creatures became targets of the past.

9. Northern Hawk-Owl

  • Scientific name: Surnia ulula
  • Life span: 8-10 years
  • Size: 14-16 inches (35-40 cm)
  • Weight: 8-14 oz (225-400 g)
  • Wingspan: 28-35 inches (70-90 cm)
  • Status: Least Concern

The Northern Hawk-Owl, a skilled hunter, inhabits the boreal forests of North America, Europe, and Asia. Its sleek and agile body, adorned with grey and white feathers, captivates the eye. With piercing yellow eyes, it exudes wisdom and is known for its unique hovering ability, observing its surroundings with remarkable precision, resembling a miniature helicopter.

A Northern Hawk-Owl sitting with its prey

The Northern Hawk-Owl selects its nest in Oregon’s lush forests, often reusing abandoned nests or crafting cozy abodes high in coniferous trees. It lines the nest with soft materials for comfort.

This skilled predator hunts small mammals, birds, and insects in Oregon’s woodlands. It soars stealthily during daylight hours, using its exceptional vision and sharp talons to secure prey.

Conservation efforts have protected the Northern Hawk-Owl in Oregon, ensuring suitable nesting sites and prey availability. These efforts have led to positive outcomes, allowing the owl to thrive and enchant nature enthusiasts.

10. Great Grey Owl

  • Scientific name: Strix nebulosa
  • Life span: 8-10 years
  • Size: 24-33 inches (60-84 cm)
  • Weight: 24-60 oz (680-1700 g)
  • Wingspan: 54-60 inches (137-152 cm)
  • Status: Least Concern

The Great Grey Owl, a magnificent creature of North American woodlands, rules the skies with silent flight and piercing yellow eyes. Its impressive size and unique facial disc, resembling feathered headphones, make it majestic.

With a wingspan of up to 5 feet, it blends seamlessly in dense forests. A fascinating fact is its asymmetrical ear openings, enabling it to locate prey even under thick snow.

Great Grey Owl sitting on a log

The Great Grey Owl nests in Oregon’s majestic woodlands, preferring old-growth forests. They construct stick nests on sturdy branches, creating a secure sanctuary for their brood.

At night, the owl hunts with stealth, primarily targeting small mammals like voles and mice. It also seizes larger prey, such as rabbits, when available.

Challenges like human development and habitat fragmentation threatened their population, but dedicated conservationists and wildlife advocates stepped in. Habitat restoration and public awareness efforts led to a resurgence in their population. The Great Grey Owl now soars through Oregon’s skies, a testament to the power of conservation.

11. Western Screech Owl

  • Scientific name: Megascops kennicottii
  • Life span: Up to 10 years
  • Size: 20-25 cm (8-10 in)
  • Weight: 170-230 g (6-8 oz)
  • Wingspan: 46-61 cm (18-24 in)
  • Status: Least Concern

In the enchanting landscapes of North America, from the coastal forests of British Columbia to the arid deserts of Mexico, resides the Western Screech Owl. This mesmerizing nocturnal creature, with its captivating round face framed by delicate ear tufts, possesses eyes that shimmer like polished onyx.

Fun fact: Did you know that the Western Screech Owl can rotate its head up to 270 degrees? Imagine the owl’s surprise if it ever decides to participate in a game of hide-and-seek!

Western Screech Owl

The Western Screech Owl in Oregon is a master nest-builder, ingeniously crafting its abode amidst the ancient forests. From cozy tree cavities to abandoned woodpecker holes, they fashion a snug sanctuary.

These nocturnal hunters in Oregon have a versatile palate, savouring a diverse feast. From plump mice scurrying through the undergrowth to the occasional insect delicacy, their menu is an eclectic symphony of flavours. Their silent flight allows them to sneak up on unsuspecting prey, embodying the stealthy grace of a secret agent.

The Western Screech Owl in Oregon has faced habitat loss and population decline, but passionate conservationists have stepped in. Through habitat restoration and public education, they strive to safeguard these charismatic owls and their ancient forest homes.

12. Northern Pygmy Owl

  • Scientific name: Glaucidium californicum
  • Life span: Up to 7 years
  • Size: 15-18 cm (6-7 in)
  • Weight: 57-85 g (2-3 oz)
  • Wingspan: 15 inch (38 cm)
  • Status: Least Concern

In the enchanted realms of North America’s dense forests, the Northern Pygmy Owl reigns supreme. With its miniature stature and fierce countenance, this pint-sized predator possesses eyes that gleam like molten amber. Fun fact: Did you know that the Northern Pygmy Owl can mimic the calls of other birds, fooling both its prey and unsuspecting birdwatchers? It’s a true master of disguise and deception in the avian world.

Northern Pygmy Owl

The Northern Pygmy Owl in Oregon is a nest-building virtuoso, meticulously crafting its haven among the towering trees. With an architectural finesse, it weaves together twigs and feathers, creating a cozy retreat that rivals the finest treehouses.

These pint-sized predators in Oregon have an appetite for adventure. From nimble voles darting through the underbrush to unsuspecting songbirds, their menu is a thrilling tapestry of woodland cuisine. They have remarkable hunting skills, utilizing their exceptional vision to spot prey from incredible distances, like a nature-inspired sniper.

The Northern Pygmy Owl in Oregon has faced habitat fragmentation and declining populations, sparking dedicated conservation efforts. Through habitat restoration and public awareness campaigns, they work tirelessly to protect these feisty owls and ensure their forested domains remain intact.

13. Northern Spotted Owl

  • Scientific name: Strix occidentalis
  • Life span: Up to 15 years
  • Size: 43-48 cm (17-19 in)
  • Weight: 500-900 g (1.1-2.0 lb)
  • Wingspan: 107-127 cm (42-50 in)
  • Status: Near Threatened

In the mystic woodlands of the Pacific Northwest, the Northern Spotted Owl holds court. With its captivating dark eyes, adorned with delicate white spots, it embodies elegance and grace. Fun fact: Did you know that the Northern Spotted Owl is a creature of habit, often returning to the same roosting spots year after year, like a loyal patron of a favorite café? It’s a loyalist of the forest, a true symbol of unwavering dedication.

A Northern Spotted Owl hiding between the autumn leaves

Northern Spotted Owls in Oregon choose old-growth forests for their nests, meticulously weaving twigs. Fun fact: They provide royal treatment with fluffy down bedding for their young.

Oregon’s Northern Spotted Owls relish forest delicacies, from mice to flying squirrels. Fun fact: They hunt with ballet-like grace, silently swooping on unsuspecting prey.

Conservationists protect the dwindling forest habitat, engaging communities to secure a future for these majestic owls in Oregon. Fun fact: Their hooting call adds an enchanting symphony to the wilderness.

14. Flammulated Owl

  • Scientific name: Psiloscops flammeolus
  • Life span: Up to 8 years
  • Size: 15-18 cm (6-7 in)
  • Weight: 57-85 g (2-3 oz)
  • Wingspan: 38-43 cm (15-17 in)
  • Status: Least Concern

In the enchanting realms of western North America, the Flammulated Owl graces the night with its presence. With its exquisite cinnamon-brown plumage adorned with intricate patterns, it epitomizes nature’s artistic prowess. Fun fact: Did you know that the Flammulated Owl has a unique vocalization, emitting a soft, high-pitched song that’s reminiscent of a delicate lullaby sung by a masterful troubadour? Its melodic voice adds a touch of enchantment to the nocturnal symphony of the forest.

A Flammulated Owl hiding in a hole in a tree

The Flammulated Owl in Oregon crafts its nest with artistic flair, delicately woven in the forest’s embrace. A cozy sanctuary among the ancient trees, it’s a testament to their woodland craftsmanship. Fun fact: Their intricate nests can be compared to nature’s own cozy cabins, inviting and snug.

Oregon’s Flammulated Owls have a refined palate, savouring a diverse woodland menu. From juicy insects buzzing under moonlit skies to delectable moths that flutter through the night, their meals are a symphony of forest flavours. Fun fact: Their acute hearing allows them to detect the faintest rustle of prey, making them the connoisseurs of nocturnal hunting.

The Flammulated Owl in Oregon has faced habitat loss, prompting dedicated conservation efforts. Through woodland restoration and public awareness, they champion the protection of these enchanting owls and the preservation of their forested homes. Fun fact: Their soft, melodious calls blend harmoniously with the whispering leaves, serenading the Oregon nights with a touch of magic.

Where to look for Owls in Oregon

To find owls in Oregon, explore forests, woodlands, and wetland areas. Visit at dawn or dusk when they are most active. Promising locations include the Tillamook State Forest, Mount Hood National Forest, Willamette National Forest, and Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Be patient, listen for hoots, and scan trees with binoculars.


In the mystical woodlands of Oregon, owls reign as feathered monarchs, captivating our hearts with their silent flight and mesmerizing beauty. From the majestic Great Grey Owl to the elusive Flammulated Owl, these enchanting creatures remind us of the delicate balance of nature.

Let us cherish and protect their forested realms, ensuring the enduring presence of these magnificent owls for generations to come.

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