#WildlifeWednesday – Introduction to Florida’s Fabulous Owls

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.Β 

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! πŸ˜€Β 

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 theΒ  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.


BARRED OWL

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.Β  “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.


BARN OWL

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! πŸ™‚

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.


BURROWING OWL

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. πŸ˜€

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.Β  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!


SCREECH OWL

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,Β  I’m going to wrap up with some stunning pictures of owls stretching their wings.

GREAT HORNED OWL

BARRED OWL

BARN OWL

BURROWING OWL

SCREECH OWL


THANKS!

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. πŸ˜€

FIND OUT MORE WHEN
#WILDLIFEWEDNESDAY RETURNS ON OCTOBER 14.
SEE YOU THEN!

 

64 thoughts on “#WildlifeWednesday – Introduction to Florida’s Fabulous Owls

  1. I really do like your barred owl, Marcia, a cuddly looking bird. We have barn owls and great horned owls here too. I thought screech owls did screech. There was a Hardy Boys book that included them, I think it was even called something about a screeching owl. Franklin W. Dixon definitely thought they screeched.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Robbie. Glad you enjoyed them. I have been around screech owls many, many times, and have used tapes of their calls to draw in other birds (who want to chase them off), and I’ve yet to hear one screech. I’ll be sharing the various calls of each owl when I post about the individual species, and I’ll share all the screech owl calls I can find.

      They have a lovely but eerie trill which is all I’ve ever heard, and I’ve gone on night time owl hunts and annual bird counts. I’m not going to say they NEVER screech because sure as I do, someone will hear one, but I can honestly say in 50+ years of bird watching, and many, many screech owls, I’ve never heard one do it a single time. I’ll see what I can find when I do the screechie post, though, just in case there’s a recording of an actual screech out there.(Several other owls do make screeching noises now and then, so I’ve always figured people just misidentified the screeching party. πŸ˜€ )

      Interesting that you have great horned owls. I knew you’d have barn owls as they are the most widely spread in the world. More on that in a future post, too. They are amazing.

      Thanks for stopping by today. I was unable to sleep and decided to check my computer, and there you were! πŸ˜€ Going to head back to bed for another try now. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 2 people

    • That’s lovely to hear, Olga. I really enjoy them, too, and when I do each one separately, I’ll have loads more fun info and pics to share. Hope you’ll enjoy this whole series, of course, but for sure, hope you’ll get a kick out of our owls. I’ll even have sound files so you can hear each one. πŸ™‚ Thanks so much for stopping by to let me know you enjoyed this one. πŸ™‚

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    • Thanks, Harmony! I’m glad you enjoyed learning about these guys. Some of my favorite birds! And lots more fun info on each species, as I do their individual posts over time. Hope you’ll enjoy my Squirrely Guys in two weeks, too. Thanks for stopping by! πŸ™‚

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  2. I like them all. When I lived in northern CA I worked at Mission College in Santa Clara – there were burrowing owls who lived on the college property. We saw them every day when we walked around campus at lunch time. I left there the end of 1992, and at that time, they were going to be relocated. I don’t know if that happened or not. It was delightful to see them.

    In a university biology course, we had to examine the contents of Owl poop sack to see what the own had eaten that night. Lots of stuff in there – very interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • How lovely to have burrowing owls in such number that you can really enjoy them. They are somewhat limited in range in Florida, being a western bird, originally. More on that when I do an individual post on them. And for those who don’t know a “poop sac” is more commonly called an “owl pellet” as it is regurgitated and has nothing to do with poop at all. In fact, the contents are the things the owl can’t digest, such as bones and fur. As you learned, they can be ordered for classroom study, and are quite interesting. More on them in a later post, too. πŸ˜€

      Nice to see you here today. Thanks for stopping by. πŸ™‚

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        • You’re most welcome, and I completely understand. I can’t remember what I had for dinner last night! πŸ˜€ Believe me, I’ve heard stranger things about owl pellets. I had a dear friend (who was way more knowledgeable about wildlife than I) who once told some folks owls don’t poop, because she thought the pellets were all they dropped. But as I say, that’s just how they get rid of undigested stuff that doesn’t travel through their system. Like all birds, they will whitewash your entire car if it’s parked under their tree! πŸ˜€ But the pellets are fascinating and a great way to study exactly what the birds in your area are dining on. Yep. They are collected and sold for just that classroom purpose. πŸ™‚

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    • I feel exactly the same way, Debby! Nothing I love more than learning new things about wildlife, and then passing it along to others when possible. That’s what makes my local presentations so much fun. (And provides me with the slides for this series.) Burrowing owls are adorable! We had a colony of them not far from where I live for many years, and then the field where they nested was developed and I don’t know whether they relocated somewhere else or not. 😦 There are quite a few of them farther south, but they haven’t always been found in Florida. Will talk more about that when I do a post specifically on them. Thanks for stopping by today! Glad you enjoyed seeing these guys. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    • AW, that’s a shame about the burrowing owl. I wonder why it skipped that little corner of Texas when it somehow made it all the way to Florida? I’ll have to dig a bit deeper into that for my post on them. Barred owls make me happy. I just love them. And I learned to mimic their call well enough to lure them in for close looks now and then. I’m not perfect with it, but it usually works. I learned how to do the call from a gal who sounded more like barred owls than barred owls do! πŸ˜€ But all owls are interesting and beautiful birds. Glad you enjoyed the post. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Mae! If you ever get down this way, I’ll be sure you get to see a full presentation somehow, even if it’s just a command performance for one, your pick. πŸ˜€ I’m glad you like the slides and I hope you’ll enjoy this bi-weekly series as much as I’m going to enjoy putting them together. And yep, there’s NO mistaking the call of a barred owl, once you’ve heard it, though they have an entire repertoire of cackles, hoots, and clacking noises they make for various reasons. And a series of hoots that’s so funny. I’ll share some of those sounds when I do the barred owl post later in the series. In the meantime, I’ll be alternating with other animals and birds, just to mix it up a bit. Thanks so much for stopping by today! Stay tuned for more over time. πŸ˜€

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  3. I love this post about Owls! They are such important messenger birds in the Spirit world. My late husband always said he had Owl medicine (Native American belief), and that when he passed from this world, I would hear two sounds – the mournful whistle a train and the hooting of an Owl. I didn’t give it much thought, but as he was dying and I knew the time was near, I stepped outside of our home in West Texas to get a breath of fresh air around 4 in the morning. It was at that moment I heard both sounds. I hurried back inside and within the span of less than two minutes, he took his last breath. It gives me goosebumps to recall it. So, yes, Owls hold a great deal of significance for me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, wow! What a story, Jan! And I’m sorry to hear you lost your husband, but it sounds like he had a strong connection to the next world. Thanks for sharing. And I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. I’ll be taking each of these owls one at a time for a more in-depth look, interspersed with posts about other wildlife, too. Hope you’ll enjoy this feature in the weeks ahead. πŸ™‚

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  4. We get most of those out here, too. Ours are the Western variety when it matters. Out here the burrowing owls are the smallest. They’re really tiny, and used to live on my back acreages when I was in Nevada. In Idaho we even got a few visiting Snowy Owls a few years ago, but I never got to see one. I think I told you I can hear the screech owls outside my windows at night. I love them.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Glad you enjoyed it, John. It covers the only ones we have here in Florida, and is just an overview. I will definitely be doing separate posts with more info on each species as the weeks roll on, though I plan to intersperse them between posts about other Florida wildlife, too. Hope you’ll enjoy following along. Thanks for stopping by today, too! πŸ™‚

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  5. Some surprises here! The Great Horned Owl is impressively big and an owl that burrows is a new one on me. We do, of course, have barn owls here and they screech quite volubly! But now I’ve seen that great pic of the squirrel and am waiting for the next instalment! πŸ˜€

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    • Hahaha. Glad you enjoyed the squirrel teaser, Trish! It’ll be along in two weeks! And yes, the great horned owl is one of the largest around, and definitely the largest in Florida. And the barn owl is VERY widespread. (Saving that exact statistic for when I do a post on that one. It’s a mind-boggler!) πŸ˜€ Plus barn owls definitely have some of the weirdest screeches and calls of any of the owls. I’ll have sound files attached to all individual bird posts, when possible, so you’ll be able to hear for yourself just what each one does.

      So glad you’re enjoying these. Thanks for letting me know, and stay tuned for Those Squirrely Guys in 2 weeks! πŸ˜€

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  6. Great stuff on the owls in Florida, Marsha. We live in northern California, right on the ocean. One of the owls that gets the most attention in our neck of the woods is the spotted owl. While not endangered yet, there has been a concern for their future as they live in old-growth forests. Due to logging, their range has decreased. Barred owls tend to be more aggressive and often take over some of the areas that the spotted owls live in. I have a friend who goes into the forests to monitor the situation.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Very interesting, Pete. I remember when spotted owls were all over the headlines as being threatened, so I’m glad to hear they aren’t endangered. Yet. But I do understand it’s a delicate situation.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the intro to owls, and I’ll be back over time with each individual species. I’m hoping this feature turns out to be a lot of fun, and you know, I’ve used owls in several of my books, so as writers, I think it’s nice to understand the animals we share the world with. They can be incorporated in many ways, but nothing makes me crazier than reading a habitat or wildlife description in a book that’s totally wrong. With all the research tools at hand online, I don’t understand not checking first to see if the animal you just mentioned actually lives in the area you’re writing about. *scratches head*

      Thanks for stopping by today, Pete. Always nice to see you! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • I got a chuckle out of your comment about incorrect habitats or wildlife descriptions driving you crazy because my dad, an ornithologist who worked for the Fish and Wildlife Service, was the same way. If a presenter was giving incorrect details about an animal, I guarantee that after the event (he never humiliated someone in front of an audience that I know of), he would correct the presenter.

        I did not follow in his footsteps as a wildlife biologist, although I definitely inherited some of his conservationist beliefs.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Sometimes even “experts” can be mistaken. And now and then, it can be almost impossible to get some folks past the old wives’ tales they’ve heard about animals, too. Or just misinformation in general. Plus, there are always new behaviors being discovered, or ranges being expanded, or information coming to light that wasn’t available some years ago. (I have some of that coming up in the presentation on squirrels.)

          I always tell folks I’m not a biologist, an ornithologist, a herpetologist, or any other “ologist.” But I know a lot of folks who are, some who were considered leading experts in their field. (Used to be closely associated with Florida Audubon back in the day.) And I’ve hiked and canoed central Florida for many years, often with those very people. Even so, I learn new things about our wildlife all the time. So I frequently update my PowerPoint presentations when I discover new information, or explanations, etc. And I invite my audiences to raise their hands when they have a question or something interesting to share. Sometimes their questions lead me to new areas of research, and I learn, too. And that can only be a good thing. πŸ˜€

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    • I’m so happy to hear both of those things, Sue! I love hearing owls calling to each other, and I love that YOU love these posts! πŸ˜€ In fact, I’m pretty stoked that you seem to be following my blog now. (You are one of the folks I miss now that I’ve closed my FB account. I enjoyed keeping up with what you were sharing, and especially the dark humor in so many of your fun memes and jokes.) Great to see you at TWS now. Stay tuned for Those Squirrely Guys in 2 weeks. They are a lot of fun, and I have some tidbits that might surprise you. πŸ˜€

      Thanks for stopping by and taking a moment to comment! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • About a year ago or so, WordPress stopped sending me posts via email (I hate the Reader). All my favorite blogs disappeared, and I couldn’t figure out why. Still don’t. So, now, I keep a list next to my computer with my Top 10 listed to check in on every day. πŸ™‚ It’s not a perfect solution (I missed this post yesterday!), but at least it helps to remind me. See ya tomorrow!

        Liked by 1 person

        • I hate the Reader, too, even though it means I get hundreds of emails every day. I’m pretty good at sorting through them most days, and at least (so far) WP is still sending me the blogs I want to follow, though now that I think about it, I haven’t seen anything from yours recently. I’ll check on that. So glad you’re still checking in on TWS! Thanks!! And say hi to your owls for me tonight! πŸ™‚

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  7. Wow! I am really surprised,Marcia! I never had thought there so many different owl living in Florida. Maybe they love to be close to the elder people in Sun City. Lol Thank you for this very interesting information, be well, stay save and have a beautiful weekend! Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are very welcome, Michael. I love to share Florida’s interesting and beautiful wildlife, and hope you’ll enjoy this series of posts. I’ll be talking in more depth about individual owl species in the weeks ahead, along with other birds, mammals, and yep, reptiles. Gonna mix it up a bit. Stay tuned! Got some fun stuff lined up for next time. πŸ™‚ And thanks for stopping by to let me know your thoughts! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

        • The Sunshine State is blessed with plenty of sun, for sure, Michael. (A bit too much of it for some of us.) And then we are blessed (?) with hurricanes and tropical storms. I guess it all evens out at some point. But we are ALWAYS blessed with beautiful and interesting habitats, filled with all sorts of equally beautiful and/or interesting wildlife. I hope you’ll enjoy getting to see more of that here in the weeks ahead. Thanks again for stopping by. πŸ™‚

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    • The barn owl is probably the most beautiful, for sure. I have some pics I’ll be sharing when I talk about that one in more detail, and I think you’ll really enjoy seeing them. As for the barred owl’s call, it is a long series of hoots, punctuated in ways that do sound like those words. Birders are always giving words to bird calls to help them remember which ones they are hearing. Sometimes the birds are even named for their calls. Case in point: chick-a-dee, dee, dee is the call of … wait for it … the chickadee! πŸ˜€

      I hope you’ll enjoy this series, Jess, and that I can keep up with all these new features. I plan to run this one every other week, and the same with #FirstLineFriday, while I’ll run #GuestDayTuesday every Tuesday that I’m able to schedule a visitor. That’s my goal, anyway. πŸ˜€ Thanks for stopping by, and stay tuned. You never know what’s going to be next. Oh, wait. This time you do. “Those Squirrelly Guys.” See you then, I hope. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: *Press This* #WildlifeWednesday – Introduction to Florida’s Fabulous Owls #153 | Its good to be crazy Sometimes

    • They are truly unique and beautiful, with such unusual faces! I don’t blame you for liking them best. They’re the only one of the five I’ve never seen in the wild, but I sure would like to. Thanks for stopping by, Darlene! Always great to see you here, and when you get a chance, check out today’s post on squirrels. Some fun stuff in it, I think! πŸ˜€ ❀

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