Some of the most well-known natural areas on the continent are found in Florida, sometimes referred to as the “Sunshine State.” Florida is a wonderland for outdoor lovers, from the Keys to the Everglades. Thanks to the wide range of ecosystems here, including woodlands, grasslands, marshes, islands, and the seashore, Owls in Florida have more than called this area home. Visitors interested in birding in this southern state are in for a treat.
The Everglades, Dry Tortugas, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Ding Darling, Merrit Island National Wildlife Refuge, and more are all well-known places to visit in Florida. The Great Florida Birding Trail may be followed if birds are your thing. The focus of this article is Florida’s owls. Eight owl species may be found in Florida, two of which are local rarities but should still be watched for.
Owls in Florida can be found in a variety of habitats. So they can move around at night, these raptors have improved their night vision, hearing, and stealth. People often think they only move around at night, but some species are active during the day, and some even hunt during the day. Many owl species are crepuscular, which means they are most active in the early morning and late evening. The two families of owls are the Tytonidae, which exclusively includes barn owls, and the Strigidae, which includes all true owls.
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Types of Owls in Florida
Great Horned Owl- Bubo Virginianus,
- 28-yr (maximum recorded)
- 17 to 25 inches in size.
- 2.6 to 3.5 lbs.
- 3- to 5-foot wingspan.
The great horned owl, often known as the tiger owl, is a raptor with massive tufts of feathers. In owls in Florida, feathers have brown barring and are mottled grayish-brown above and whitish below. It has a grey or reddish-brown face patch and a white neck patch of owls. Long feathers cover the feet and legs. America and South America are the continents where true owls are most common.
These owls like wide, wooded areas for nesting and hunting. All year long, great horned owls in Florida reside. They stay and don’t often move. They often inhabit orchards, farmlands, and wooded areas close to open fields. They build their nests on cliffs or scattered trees in deserts and other dry regions. They are also seen in serene suburbs and parks.
Eastern Screech Owl -Megascops asio
- 14 years (oldest recorded)
- 6.5–10 inches in size.
- 4–8 oz.
- 18 to 24 inches in length
The stocky eastern screech owl has pattern plumage, streaky underparts, broad wings, and short tails. The gray variety is comparable to western screech owls. It has an enormous head, pronounced ear tufts, brilliant eyes, and a golden beak. Feathered legs and powerful feet.
Orchards, parks, gardens, riparian woods, mixed woodlands, and deciduous forests are where eastern screech owls may be found. They exist all around Florida. These owls breed on nearby trees, thriving in urban and suburban settings. Keep an eye out for their midnight cries in the spring and summer. They often build their nest on the leaves of nearby trees and plants.
Owls in Florida food consists of about 300 species of birds and 200 kinds of mammals. In addition to fish, invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians, and carrion are consumed. Their primary prey is rodents, lagomorphs, and ground-feeding birds. Although they sometimes hunt during the day, great horned owls hunt mostly at night. Even though great horned owls were hunted a lot in the past, population estimates show that their numbers are decreasing. Another risk is the indirect poisoning of prey by pesticides.
Eastern screech owls pursue prey at convenient times. They go out at night and hunt from perches. During mating season, insects, spiders, crayfish, worms, and snails make up most of their food. In the winter, they go for mice and voles. The eastern screech owl may adapt to urban environments and live there.
Tree hollows are one of the locations where great horned owls build their nests. They may make their nests in natural cavities, on the ground, or in animal burrows and dens. There are several strange and terrifying great-horned owl cries. Their hoots, screeches, growls, meows, and squawks may be used to identify them. Low-pitched hooting is heard.
Burrowing Owl-Athene Cunicularia,
- 9 years recorded
- 7–11 inches in length.
- 4.8–8.5 oz.
- wingspan of 20–24 inches
Burrowing owls with spots are small and have long, grey legs. It has brown-striped plumage that is pale below and black above. At birth, it has thick, light brows that frame its broad, brilliant eyes. Winter migration of northern burrowing owls, but the majority remain to stay.
Burrowing owls live year-round in Florida. They inhabited meadows and plains. Burrowing owls are tolerant of people. During the day, they are often seen on roads, golf courses, parks, farms, and airports. Owls in Florida make their homes and roosts in the burrows of prairie dogs, ground squirrels, and other scavengers. For protection, they act like rattlesnakes. They hiss and rattle to scare off predators, much as rattlesnakes do.
Barred Owl: Variable Strix
- 24-yr (oldest recorded)
- 16–25 inches in length.
- 17–35 oz in weight.
Barred owls consume fish, insects, amphibians, birds, and reptiles. After nightfall, opportunistic predators hunt from perches. The barred owl is common in North America. It is vulnerable to logging and other forest changes, making it an indicator species. These hardy and adaptable species have expanded their range and population over the last few decades.
Barn Owl-Tyto alba
- 2-4 years in the wild; 25 years maximum recorded
- 13–15 inches in length.
- 8–25 oz in weight.
- Wingspan: 31–37 inches.
Barn owls are unique in appearance and have a loud call known as the “devil,” “ghost,” and “death” owls. Barn owls are quite good at keeping mice under control. Barn owls are magnificent. It is a medium-sized, heart-shaped owl with light, speckled feathers. The rusty brown top sections are covered with dark dots. The underparts and face are whitish to cream. Large, broad wings and slender, feathery legs enable rapid, quick movements. The lowlands are home to barn owls. They inhabit fields, open woods, meadows, and the edges of forests.
Barn owls in Florida build their nests in old buildings and barns. They build their nests in cliffs, ridge cracks, or tree holes. They often use their nesting boxes and those of other birds. For chick nests, the mother rips regurgitated pellets. They consume a lot of voles in North America. They eat other rodents, insects, lizards, bats, amphibians, and birds. The barn owl is one of the most common owls and birds. However, local populations are declining due to habitat degradation, auto accidents, and chemical poisoning.
Barn owls in Florida are uncommon yet ubiquitous. If you see one, you’ll know. The barn owl is unusual. Watch for a white flare in the rural area at night. The barn owl flies. They float low and look for prey. They could also see birds flying to or from a perch. Flights between roosts throughout the day are frequent. Barn owls don’t talk. It makes a piercing screech.
Northern Saw-Whet Owl (Rare) Aegolius acadicus
- 7-16 years (captivity)
- 7–9 inches in length.
- 2.2–5.4 oz in weight
- 17 to 22 inches wingspan
The northern saw-whet owl in Florida on the continent is the smallest and cutest owl. It has an enormous, globular head and body. Its feathers are a deep brown color with tiny white spots on the top and streaks of white on the underside. On its light brown face disc, between its wide yellow eyes, a white Y-shape extends from the brows to the bill. In coniferous forests, northern saw-tooth owls may be found.
They spend the winter in mixed or deciduous woods. In ancient bird nests or woodpecker holes, they lay their eggs. Northern Saw-Whet Owls exclusively spend the winter in Florida. Pay attention to the faraway call. The word comes from the sound a saw makes when it is sharpened on a rough stone. They hunt at night and have excellent hearing.
They mostly consume rodents. They sometimes consume insects, small birds, bats, and amphibians. Despite Being widely distributed, the southern Appalachian northern saw-whet owl population is in danger. This species is in danger from logging, deforestation, and forest destruction.
The Snowy Owl (Very Rare) Bugo Scandiacus
- 10-23 years (oldest recorded)
- 56-104 oz in weight
- Wingspan: 50–57 inches
Sometimes snowy owls go to Florida, a state outside their typical range. The snowy owl has dazzling white feathers and eyes that are bright yellow. The mostly white plumage has black patterns on the top portions. Females have more spots and a softer brown stripe pattern.
Snowy owls in Florida are small in stature, with long feathers and short ear tufts. In the icy Arctic, they generally resemble snowy lumps. Snowy owls inhabit tundras devoid of trees. They build their nests on ridges, hummocks, hills, and outcrops in dry, shallow scrapes. Snowy owls migrate randomly. The southern region experiences winter in meadows, prairies, grasslands, lakeshores, and coastal areas.
Farms, golf farms, golf courses, and airports all have them. Rather than hooting, snowy owls bark. The usual Kru call is raspy. Snowy owls hunt day and night, in contrast to other owls. Snowy owls hunt both day and night, unlike other owls. Their excellent eyesight compensates for their poor hearing. They swoop down on ground prey while hunting from perches. Lemmings, which are little animals, are the prey.
They also consume rodents, birds, and sometimes fish, insects, and amphibians. Because of how they act, where they nest, how few predators there are, and how big their breeding area is, it is hard to tell what is going on with the population of this species. But snowy owl numbers have drastically decreased. Habitat and prey are threatened by climate change. During winter travels, they often collide with vehicles, electricity wires, and fences. They are considered vulnerable by the IUCN.
Why do owls come to your yard?
Install nesting boxes to provide owls with a safe place to establish a home.
Avoid pruning trees’ big branches.
Put timers on the outside floodlights.
Give out bird baths.
Reduce the frequency of grass mowing to improve the hunting grounds for owls.
In Florida, do owls go outside during the day?
In Florida, burrowing owls may be seen year-round in open spaces. They live on plains, prairies, and other open spaces. Burrowing owls are often active during the day and don’t mind most human contact. They often congregate around highways, golf courses, parks, and agricultural areas.
Do owls frequent the same location every evening?
Owls often use the same nesting location year-round, which may frequently extend for up to 8 years with the same spouse. Because having the same mate is helpful, they can protect their territory together for a long time. With the occasional exception, the majority of owls do not migrate.
Do owls use the same nest each year?
Every year, just one nest is utilized. When a great horned owl uses a tree nest for a season, it often degrades so badly that only a few can be used the following season again. However, a strong nest that endures a year’s worth of wear and tear may be used again.
What do owls fear, precisely?
According to research, owls don’t experience fear. An owl will be startled by loud human noises like clapping and yelling, and they are also likely to be alarmed by sudden bursts of bright light.
Because they consume more rodents than other animals, owls are crucial to the economy and the environment. They are helpful in agriculture because they effectively control pests better than pesticides. Owls are a serious threat since the chemicals in their prey indirectly damage them.
A few North American owl species are in decline. Two serious dangers are habitat loss and pesticide use. Owl boxes attract owls to your property, where they may control pests and have a place to nest.
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