After my general overview post last time, I decided to start my new series off with a post about owls. Several people mentioned how much they love them, and really, how can you not enjoy such beautiful creatures? Since I don’t have time to write up my entire 90-program on owls–and nobody would have time to read it if I did–I’m going to make this a generalized introduction for you. I intend to revisit the individual species later in the series with more detailed info, but for now, here are the owls that call Florida home.
As you can see, we have five species of owl that are native to Florida, and they are from top , left to right, and bottom left and right:
- Great Horned Owl
- Barn Owl
- Barred Owl
- Eastern Screech Owl
- Burrowing Owl
Since this post is merely a basic introduction, I’ll try to keep it short, with a “Bio Slide” and range map for each species and some pretty photos at the end to make you smile. I’ll save the rest for the individual posts on each species. With that in mind, take a look at these gorgeous guys. I hope you’ll find the details on each slide interesting, but if that’s not your thing, feel free to skim over those bits. I promise there will NOT be a quiz afterward! 😀
GREAT HORNED OWL
We’ll start with the great horned owl, the largest species in the state. This is the guy most folks picture when thinking of owls in general. He’s considered an “eared” species, though of course, what appears to be ears are really just tufts of feathers. Like all birds, his ears are internal. And he’s probably the source of the term “hoot owl,” as he does make a hooting call.
And here’s the range map for the great horned owl. As you can see, it’s very wide-spread, ranging from South America to well into Canada. And as the map indicates via the pink coloration, it’s a permanent resident, year round.
The second largest owl we have in central Florida is my personal favorite, the barred owl. I love them because unlike most owls, they are out and about a large portion of the day, and easily spotted. They are also easily recognized, by their size, the NON-eared look of their head, and those huge rings around their eyes. This is the owl most commonly seen when boating or canoeing along the St. Johns River, often nesting right along the shoreline. And the call of a barred owl is unmistakable. “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for YOU-AAALLLLL?” is heard throughout most of the summer, and often all night long, if you have a pair in your neighborhood.
As you can see from this range map, the barred owl is not as widespread as the great horned owl, and is largely an eastern bird. It is, however, slowly expanding its range westward, so who knows what the range will look like in another few decades.
The barn owl is the third largest owl in Florida, and truly a stunning creature. I confess, I have never seen one in the wild, so it’s on my Must See Someday list! 🙂
As you can see, the barn owl has an incredibly broad range, world-wide. More details about that when this guy’s the featured owl of the day.
Florida is lucky enough to have one of the most interesting owls around, the burrowing owl. Yes, they nest in holes in the ground. They are like feathered prairie dogs in that way. 😀
As you can tell from this map, burrowing owls are primarily a western species,but somehow, here they are in Florida, too. And a permanent, year-round resident, at that. When it’s this guy’s turn to be a featured star, you’ll learn a lot about their burrowing habits. Very interesting little guys, for sure!
And finally, our last and smallest owl in Florida, the Eastern screech owl. Lots to learn about this little guy, which looks kinda like a miniature version of the great horned owl. And for my money, he’s totally misnamed. I’ve never heard a screech owl screech. Personally, I think they should be called trill owls. Can’t wait to share more about this guy in a future post.
Here’s the range map for this little guy. There’s a reason for the “Eastern” designation, as you can plainly see.
So there you have a quick glance at Florida’s five species of owls. I will be doing posts on each one in the weeks ahead, alternating with other animals and birds. For now, just to whet your appetites, I’m going to wrap up with some stunning pictures of owls stretching their wings.
GREAT HORNED OWL
Thanks for joining me today for this Introduction to Florida Owls. Hope you’ve enjoyed seeing these five treasures, and will be following along for future posts on each species. And I hope you’ll join me in two weeks for my next #WildlifeWednesday, featuring “Those Squirrely Guys.” You might be surprised by what you’ll learn. 😀
FIND OUT MORE WHEN
#WILDLIFEWEDNESDAY RETURNS ON OCTOBER 14.
SEE YOU THEN!