9 Common Owl Species In Arizona

Here is all about Arizona owls.

Arizona is strategically located right in the center of the migratory path of hundreds of bird species.

If you’re a birdwatcher, it may interest you to know that owls are among the bird species whose home for the most part is Arizona.

Arizona Owl Species

Now, these owls also consist of multiple species such as the Western Screech-Owl, the Great Horned Owl, the Short-Eared Owl, and the Long-Eared Owl.

Other species include the Burrowing Owl, the American Barn Owl, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, and the Elf Owl.

Additional owl species found in Arizona include the Flammulated Owl, the Northern Pygmy-Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl, and the Spotted Owl. Mentioning these owl species alone won’t do justice to our discussion.

As such, we’ll be taking an individual look at each owl species.

  • Western Screech-Owl

One of the easily recognizable features of Western Screech-owls is their characteristic dark brown or bluish-grey feathering. There are variances in size as the females tend to be larger.

Their natural habitats stretch from the northern fringes of Central America right up to the Southeastern portion of the state of Alaska.

You’ll find these owl species around sub-tropical, temperate, and high-altitude forests. Western screech owls will readily hunt for prey such as earthworms, invertebrates, fish as well as insects among others.

  • The Great Horned Owl

One of the ways to easily identify a great horned owl is by their orange-colored faces their black and white stripes.

Such lines are similar to tigers. Its ability to camouflage is enhanced by the special markings beneath it. Such lines blend great horned owls to their surroundings as markings resemble branches.

Great horned owls don’t have the prettiest of looks. In other words, they look menacing.

One of the ways you can identify this species is by a common ear-like feature consisting of feather tufts. Great horned owls measure around 17 to 25 inches in length with a wingspan of 3 to 5 feet.

  • The Short-Eared Owl

Short-eared owls are called so because they mostly do not erect their ears until they want to look menacing. The name has nothing to do with their ear length.

One of the features of short-eared owls is their flame-colored feathers.

You’re likely to come across these owl species at dusk or down around locations like airports and open fields among others. Short-eared owls will normally build their nests on the ground.

This makes their young vulnerable to predators.

Part of their defense mechanisms when facing a threat is to poop on their eggs to make them smelly to predators. They feed at noon by preying on voles and other animals.

  • Long-Eared Owl

This owl species is also found in Arizona and takes the facial resemblance of a cat. You’ll be lucky to spot these birds as their elusive thanks to their excellent camouflage abilities.

As the name implies, these species of owls appear to have long ears. In reality, these are only long feather tufts on their heads.

As good hunters, they must live along the fringes of the forest to have access to the open hunting ground. This is done while taking advantage of forest cover for nesting. Long-eared owls prey on all sorts of rodents including voles.

Sometimes, they prey on smaller birds too.

  • Burrowing Owl

Burrowing owls are species with spots, stripes, or even plain light tan on their chests. They can be distinguished from other owl species by their long legs.

True to their name, burrowing owls burrow through the earth to build their nests. Unlike their counterparts (other owl species), they do not live underground.

  • American Barn Owl

Also called ghost owls among other names, American Barn owls are excellent hunters as they’re well adapted to hunting by sound. This is seen in their heart-shaped face configurations that enhance their hearing ability.

These owl species prey on bats and other smaller birds including rodents.

They measure an average of 14 inches in length with a wingspan of 39 to 49 inches. Asides from the state of Arizona, you’ll find the American barn owl in almost every other state.

If you’ve wondered why they’re called barn owls, it’s due to their nesting behavior. These birds will readily occupy abandoned barns.

  • Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl

This is quite a mouthful to pronounce. The Ferruginous Pygmy owl species can be identified by their colors which range from a brilliant rust color that goes all the way down to the tail.

Other colorations of these owl species include a grey-brown that goes with a black and whitetail.

The false eyes feature found on these owls consists of two black spots or dots found behind their head and neck area. This serves as a form of protection as other predator birds mistook these for eyes.

Ferruginous Pygmy owls live in semi-wooded habitats as well as lowlands. You’ll find them not only in Arizona but also in other locations like Texas and South America.

  • Elf Owl

The elf owl has a grayish-brown appearance and grows to an average of 5 inches in length. Its wingspan measures around 27 centimeters. Elf owl’s target woodpecker nests to raise their young.

These are mostly found around poplar and cacti plants.

Asides from being a common feature in Arizona, Elf owls are also found in central Mexico. It mostly hunts for bugs and doesn’t care to be silent when doing so. Such bugs include beetles, moths, and centipedes among others.

  • Flammulated Owl

Upon looking at a flammulated owl, you’ll understand why it gets its name. These birds have flame-shaped markings on their body. This physical feature gives flammulated owls the perfect cover they need.

To find these owl species, you’ll need to look at the very top of coniferous forest trees. Their meal consists mainly of insects. Sometimes, small-sized rodents are added to the diet or feasted on.

These are some of the owl species found in Arizona. While some of these birds are permanent dwellers, others are migratory. We’ve also seen the physical features which distinguish one species from the other.

Such characteristics include long legs, varying sizes or lengths, and also different wingspan.

As a bird watcher, you’ll find this information interesting.

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