Owls are one of the most widely recognized birds in the world, and Ontario is home to a diverse range of these nocturnal predators. There are 13 species of owl that can be found in the province, ranging from the tiny Northern Saw-whet Owl to the massive Great Grey Owl, and each species has its own unique traits and habits.
The most common 5 types of Owl in Ontario are the Great Horned Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Eastern Screech Owl, Snowy Owl and Barred Owl. Ontario is home to 13 species of owl, ranging from the tiny Northern Saw-whet Owl to the massive Great Grey Owl.
5 Types Of Owls In Ontario
1. Great Horned Owl
The Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) is one of the most widely distributed and common 5 types of owl in Ontario. It is one of the most recognized bird of prey species in the province. It is one of the largest owl species in North America, typically measuring between 18-25 inches in length, with a wingspan of up to 50 inches.
The Great Horned Owl is easily distinguished by its large, round head and prominent ear tufts. It has a mottled plumage of brown, black, and white, and can be found in a variety of habitats, from open fields and woodlands to urban areas.
The Great Horned Owl is an opportunistic predator, preying on small mammals such as mice, voles, hares, and squirrels. It also hunts for birds, amphibians, reptiles, and insects, as well as larger prey such as rabbits, skunks, and even other birds of prey. The Great Horned Owl is a territorial species, and will fiercely defend its nesting site against other birds of prey. It typically nests in large trees, and its nest is constructed from sticks and branches.
This type of Owl is a nocturnal species, and can often be heard calling at night. Its call is a deep, raspy “hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo,” which can carry for over a mile. In Ontario, the Great Horned Owl can be seen year-round, but it is most active during the winter months, when it is more likely to be seen hunting.
2. Northern Saw-whet Owl
The Northern Saw-whet Owl is one of the smallest and most elusive species of owls found in Ontario. It is a tiny bird, measuring only 7-8 inches in length, with a wingspan of up to 16 inches. It is an owl of the boreal forests, breeding in the boreal forests of Canada and wintering in the southern United States and Mexico. This owl is known for its distinctive, whistled call that is often heard during the spring and fall migration.
The Northern Saw-whet Owl is a nocturnal bird and is most active at night. During the day, it roosts in dense foliage or a tree cavity, often at the base of a large tree. It feeds on small mammals, such as mice and voles, as well as small birds and insects. They also sometimes eat fruits and berries.
The Northern Saw-whet Owl is an elusive species, and is difficult to observe in the wild. They are often seen perched on low branches during the day or in flight at night. However, they can be attracted to backyard bird feeders, particularly during the winter months.
The Northern Saw-whet Owl is an important species in Ontario, and is listed as a species of Special Concern under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act. Their populations are declining due to habitat loss and fragmentation. To help protect and conserve this species, it is important to protect their habitats, such as boreal forests, and to provide nest boxes for them to use for roosting and nesting.
3. Eastern Screech-Owl
The Eastern Screech-Owl is a type of owl that is native to Ontario and can be found in a variety of habitats from deciduous and mixed forests to open woodlands and residential areas. This small owl has a grey or red-brown plumage, yellow eyes, and a white “bib” at the throat. It is one of the most common owls in Ontario, and is most active at night.
The Eastern Screech-Owl typically hunts small mammals, insects, and other small prey. It is a stealth hunter, relying on its camouflage and silent flight to sneak up on its prey. It often perches in a tree or on a building, watching for potential prey. It swoops down suddenly and silently to capture its prey.
The Eastern Screech-Owl nests in cavities in trees, or in man-made structures like barns and sheds. The female will lay an average of 4-7 eggs, and incubate them for around 28 days. The young owls will fledge after 5-6 weeks, but remain dependent on their parents for at least 4 months.
The Eastern Screech-Owl is an important part of the ecology of Ontario, and plays an important role in controlling the populations of small mammals and insects. It is also a popular species for bird watching and nature appreciation.
4. Snowy Owl
A Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) is a type of owl native to Ontario, Canada. It is a large, white owl with black markings, and is the only white owl species in the province. It is a year-round resident of the northern boreal forest, tundra, and Arctic regions of North America.
The Snowy Owl is one of the largest owls in North America, reaching up to 24 inches in length with a wingspan of up to 58 inches. The male Snowy Owl is almost entirely white, with some black bars or spots on the wings and tail. The female is slightly darker, with more barring and spots on the wings and tail.
Snowy Owls feed primarily on small mammals such as mice, voles, and lemmings, though they will also take birds, fish, and insects. During the summer months, they will migrate south to take advantage of the abundance of prey.
Snowy Owls tend to be solitary birds and can be seen perched on high branches or telephone wires, or flying low over open fields in search of prey. They are crepuscular, meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk.
The Snowy Owl is a protected species in Ontario, and is listed as a species of special concern. It is illegal to hunt, harass, or possess a Snowy Owl without a permit. In addition, nesting sites should not be disturbed during the breeding season.
5. Barred Owl
The Barred Owl (Strix varia) is one of the most common 5 types of owls found in Ontario, Canada. It is a medium-sized owl, typically measuring between 43-50 cm in length, and has a wingspan of up to 110 cm. Its body is barred with dark brown and white feathers, and its eyes are bright yellow.
Barred Owls are typically found in mature deciduous and coniferous forests, as well as along rivers and streams. They are mainly nocturnal, but may be seen during the day in search of food. Their diet consists mainly of small mammals such as mice, voles, and shrews, as well as large insects, small birds, frogs, and fish. They hunt by perching on a branch and waiting for prey to come within reach before swooping down to grab it.
The Barred Owl is a cavity nester, and will often use the abandoned nests of other birds, such as hawks and crows, for its own nesting purposes. The female lays 2-6 eggs, and both the male and female take turns incubating them. The chicks fledge after about four weeks.
In Ontario, the Barred Owl is considered a species of special concern, due to its declining population in some areas. Human activities, such as deforestation, have had an adverse effect on the species’ habitat, leading to a decrease in their numbers. Conservation efforts are underway to help restore and protect the Barred Owl’s population.
The species of owls found in Ontario vary in size, colour, and behaviour, but all share the common adaptations of large eyes and beaks for nocturnal hunting. However, the most common types of Owls in Ontario include Great Horned Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Eastern Screech-owl, Snowy Owl, and Barred Owl. Each species has its own unique habitat preferences and behaviours, and it is important to respect their natural environment when observing them in the wild.
The owls vary in size, colour, and behaviour, but all have large eyes and beaks adapted for nocturnal hunting. Many owls hunt over open fields and wetlands, while others prefer to inhabit forests and woodlands. All species of owl are protected under the Ontario Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, and it is important to respect their natural habitat when observing them in the wild.