Michigan Owls 101: An Introduction to the Different Types of Owls in the State

Michigan is home to several owl species, each with its own unique characteristics and habitat preferences. Here are four common types of owls found in Michigan:

1. Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)

The Great Horned Owl is one of the largest and most widespread owl species in Michigan. It has prominent “ear” tufts on its head and distinct yellow eyes. Great Horned Owls are adaptable and can be found in various habitats, including forests, swamps, and suburban areas. They are known for their deep hooting calls and are active primarily at night. Great Horned Owls are skilled hunters, preying on a wide range of mammals, birds, and even other owls.

2. Eastern Screech-Owl (Megascops asio)

Eastern Screech-Owls are small owls known for their distinctive “whinnying” or trilling calls. They have small tufts on their heads and can be gray or reddish-brown in color, depending on their morph. Eastern Screech-Owls are adaptable and can be found in various habitats, including woodlands, suburban areas, and parks. They nest in tree cavities and are primarily active at night, feeding on small mammals, birds, and insects.

3. Barred Owl (Strix varia)

Barred Owls are medium-sized owls with brown plumage marked by vertical barring on their chest and belly. They have rounded heads and dark eyes. Barred Owls prefer mature forests and wooded areas near water bodies. They are known for their distinctive call, often described as a series of hoots that sound like “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?” Barred Owls are primarily nocturnal hunters, feeding on small mammals, birds, and amphibians.

4. Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus)

The Northern Saw-whet Owl is a small owl species with a round head and large yellow eyes. They have a brownish overall coloration with white markings on their face. Northern Saw-whet Owls are primarily nocturnal and are known for their high-pitched, whistling call. They prefer mixed forests and woodlands, especially during migration and winter months. Northern Saw-whet Owls feed on small rodents and occasionally insects.

These are just a few examples of the owl species that can be found in Michigan. Other owl species that may occasionally be spotted in the state include the Barn Owl, Long-eared Owl, and Short-eared Owl. Owls are fascinating creatures that play an important role in maintaining ecological balance in their respective habitats.