Florida is a beautiful state filled with sunshine and a wide variety of natural attractions.
Whether you are looking to spend time on the beach or you want to visit one of their many gorgeous state parks, you will find that this state is full of exciting natural elements.
Given Florida’s beautiful natural settings, it comes as no surprise that the area is home to a wide collection of captivating wildlife that comes together to create a vibrant and engaging ecosystem that is all kinds of fun to observe.
One animal in particular that soars high in the local ecosystem is the owl.
Florida is currently home to a total of seven owl species that are all a little different.
The local owls in this region are known to vary in size, environment, and diet, making it interesting to see how such animals sharing a similar space can live and grow so differently.
Owls all around the area can be seen if you know just where to look.
What Owls can be seen in Florida?
Table of Contents
1. Barn Owl
107 to 110 cm
430 – 620 g
Up to 4 years
Voles, Shrews & Mice
Though barn owls aren’t the most common owl in Florida, they do show up when you least expect them.
This captivating white and grey bird is most easily recognized by its tell-tale shriek that has been known to spook a great many people out for a walk at night.
At night, they are said to look like ghosts, their mostly white forms shining under the moonlight.
The barn owl can get well over a foot tall and enjoys nesting inside trees, caves, and other forms of cover like buildings.
Barn owls are known for their preference for open surrounding areas when it comes to nesting locations.
They enjoy fields, marshes, and agricultural sites. You can easily find this bird all around the state, but they might move from one region to the next if their diet calls for it.
Like other owls, they can be seen hunting at night and will remain tucked away during the day.
Since they like to lay eggs in February, these birds can be found in barns and other covered regions next to open spaces.
When they mate with another owl, the two owls will often remain paired for several seasons. If you are lucky, you might be able to see the same owls in an area multiple seasons in a row.
2. Eastern Screech Owl
46 to 61 cm
Rats, Squirrels, Rabbits & Skunks
The Eastern Screech Owl is known for spending time in Florida and is fairly loved because it is the smallest owl in the area.
This adorable little owl is known to spend its time in small spaces and ventures out for food and a bit of flight during the night hours.
It has a unique call, which sounds like it is actively descending, and is generally a good indicator that you might be about to see one swoop by.
This particular owl is known for its versatility in preference when it comes to living.
Though these owls do enjoy holding up in small holes in trees and other tiny cavities, they are fairly open about where you can find them.
The Eastern Screech Owl can be found in swamps, forests, and even suburban areas all over Florida.
The Eastern Screech Owl can easily be seen year-round in Florida, but you are more likely to see them during mating season since there is traditionally more activity.
The mating season for these owls is April through May, but you might get to see their courting traditions around other times if you are lucky.
3. Great Horned Owl
28 years old
Squirrels, Rabbits & Skunks
The Great Horned Owl is a large owl known for its massive wingspan and tell-tale appearance.
This unique owl has two specific tufts of feathers on its head that look just like horns, making it easy to spot and easy to identify.
Since it is so large, it is easier to see when it goes out hunting. With its mottled grey and brown appearance, this large owl has been known to spook many people out for an evening walk.
This large owl is the biggest owl in Florida and can easily be spotted around the state.
In fact, this owl is known to frequent every part of Florida with exception to the Keys, making it easy to see just about anywhere.
What makes it so easy to see this owl is the fact that it seldom hides like other owls do.
The Great Horned Owl has no problem with being seen and has been known to spend time perched on fences and other spaces out in the open.
If you want to see the Great Horned Owl, you are in luck.
This large and interesting bird is mostly nocturnal, making it easier to spot in the evening, but it has been known to hunt during the day as well, making it even easier to spot.
You can enjoy seeing this owl as it hunts small and medium-sized prey out in the open. Simply look for the signature horns and you will have it in your sights.
4. Barred Owl
107 and 111 cm
Birds, Fish, Reptiles
The barred owl is a bird with a beautiful feather pattern, generally appearing mostly brown with hints of white around the tips to make for a more complex appearance.
These stunning creatures are beloved because of their unique beauty. They enjoy nesting in a nice tree cavity and are known for their unique vertical pattern on their underside that makes them even more beautiful.
Sometimes they can be heard calling out in the day, particularly if you stumble by where they are roosting. The Barred Owl is medium in size and is known for its open-minded approach to eating.
If you are looking to see a barred owl, you will need to know where to look. Most commonly, these owls can be found around Florida’s wooded areas.
During the day they will roost in trees and wait for night to fall, but at night they can be soon swooping across open areas and over woodland floors to hunt their prey after the dark settles in.
They are partial to wooded areas with dead trees, so this is always a good place to look for them day or night.
Barred Owls are known for their expansive mating period, which begins in February and can go as late as August.
This is an excellent time to listen to their rich calls as they seek out mates and begin to start their families.
Since they are nocturnal hunters, you can more easily spot them when they are out swooping around after dark. However, you can also find them during the day tucked away in trees.
5. Burrowing Owl
51 to 61 cm
Insects, small mammals & reptiles
The Burrowing Owl was made famous to many by the charming novel Hoot, and when you see these adorable owls you will understand why people were so happy to root for them.
The Burrowing Owl is a small but proud species that spends its time traversing the ground rather than simply soaring high above the sky.
It nests in burrows in the ground, which is unique to the species and makes them easier to stumble upon. You can recognize them by their long legs that they stand proudly upon.
Finding the burrowing owl generally involves looking down rather than up. In fact, you might be more likely to see their signature burrow rather than the owls themselves.
These tiny birds are known to spend time in open areas and have no concerns about trees or any other perches, instead preferring nice open ground.
They tend to blend in with the vegetation, but you can spot them in prairies all over Florida.
What makes burrowing owls even more unique is the fact that they are actually out and about during the day.
These peculiar owls care little for the habits of other owls and instead enjoy their hunting and exploring during the day, making it fairly easy for you to spot them on a nice stroll if they happen to be in the area.
If you suspect that you might have found a burrow, you can easily continue scanning the area for a little owl out on the prowl.
6. Short-Eared Owl
85 to 110 cm
Voles, Mice, Squirrels
The Short-Eared Owl is an owl that is known for its distinctive short ears, but also for its short feathers and easy to spot short tail.
This unique bird has a distinctive dark coloring which includes a mix of blacks, darker browns, and lighter browns with flecks of white.
They, like the Burrowing Owl, nest on the ground and have an expressive courtship display that includes the male displaying their feathers to the female.
These birds can be found in a wide range of open areas including prairies and meadows.
They inhabit all kinds of spaces in Florida, particularly open fields with vegetation that can be used to conceal their nests.
For this adorable bird, spending time on the ground and in the air are both options, which makes it easier for you to spot them.
The best time to see the short-eared owl in most places is Winter. These birds are known to spend their time up north for other seasons, making Winter the only time to see them in a lot of states.
Fortunately, they make it easy to spot. Look for the times when the sun is rising or setting and you can generally spot them flying or hopping about on the ground.
7. Snowy Owl (Rare)
Birds, Rabbits, Fish & Rodents
The Snowy Owl is an owl that was popularized by the world famous Harry Potter series thanks to Harry’s pet Snowy Owl, Hedwig.
Though you won’t want to keep this precious wild animal as a pet, there is no mistaking their unique physical beauty.
These birds are easily recognized because of their snow white feathers that are often speckled with darker colors to make blending in easier.
Snowy Owls are a monogamous species of owl and build their nests on the ground in high places when possible to avoid predators.
Snowy Owls are incredibly rare residents to Florida with only a few ever having been seen in the area.
These gorgeous owls are known to breed only in Alaska, but sometimes when they migrate they like to visit new places along the way.
Though seeing a Snowy Owl is rare, a few have shown up in Jacksonville and perched atop local sandbars.
Unlike many other owls, Snowy Owls care little about what time of day it is.
These owls are happy to fly, explore, and hunt whether it is day or night. Fortunately for you, this makes spotting these owls that much easier since it is always the right time of day for them to be out.
You might spot them out when there is plenty of fish activity or during times when other smaller birds are eating.
We are avid bird-watchers who recently retired, allowing us more time to travel the world. Fortunately, we have managed to visit numerous countries around Europe, Asia, and America. Watching and photographing birds has been a passion for many years and we are making the most of the extra time on our hands!