All the Owls in North Dakota

North Dakota is popular for its picturesque terrain, oil production, and agriculture. But there’s a side that may be unknown to a lot of people.

This beautiful place is also home to 11 species of owls. Yes, owls! These owls have adapted to the climate and have gone through amazing adaptions.

Some common sights are Great Horned Owl and Short Eared Owl, while others are very rare, like Barn Owls and Northern Hawk Owl.

At first glance, you might not be able to differentiate between them. But if you look closely, you will notice that the owls in North Dakota have very distinguishable characteristics.

They have very different features and patterns, and we’ll go through all of them in this article.

Owls in North Dakota

All eleven owls in North Dakota have many different distinctive features. It is not uncommon for many to be unaware of the most common distinguishable characteristics of owls.

In that case, it is very easy to confuse one with another. So, to know which owl you have seen, it is essential to understand their different attributes.

1. Great Horned Owl (Bubo Virginianus)

In North America, they are the second biggest owl. They live all through the year in North Dakota.

Great Horned owls live in northern Canada and Alaska as well. And you’ll find them living in every region of South Dakota as well.

Identifying Features

The Great Horned Owl is the second largest owl with sturdy and heavy bodies. They have two feathery horns above their heads, one of the best markers for their identification.

This owl has two large wings, both pretty broad and a rounded finish. When they fly, the combination of their circular head and small bills gives their head a blunt-shaped profile.

Compared with other owls, they are significantly more enormous, even more than a red-tailed hawk. If you compare it with other birds, you will find that it is larger than a crow but more petite than a goose.

The two most distinctive characteristics of the Great Horned Owl are its menacing yellow gaze and heavy hooting call. This bird has a dull gray to brown body with a dark red, almost brown face.

They have a patch of white feathers surrounding their throats. Depending on their region, the Great Horned Owl’s color ranges from ashy to almost white.

Food Habit

Great Horned Owls have one of the most diverse palates. Their diet ranges from small rodents to large raptors.

They like to eat rats, mice, voles, skunks, hares, rabbits, squirrels, bats, moles, hares, chipmunks, gophers, porcupines, and many other mammals.

From birds to raptors, they mainly eat ducks, hawks, owls, loons, crows, doves, raves, mergansers, rails, starlings, and loons.

They also eat different types of fish, insects, invertebrates, amphibians, and carrions.

Usually, the Great Horned Owls hunt at night, but sometimes they hunt for food during the day. They catch their prey midair and sometimes by stalking around on land.

Nesting Pattern

Great Horned Owls find large trees such as pine, cottonwood, and junipers to build their nest. They also make their nests in tree holes, cliff edges, buildings, and grounds.

Typically, this bird claims other birds’ nests and adds building materials to modify the nests. Great Horned find sticks of different sizes to build their nests.

Sometimes they line their nests with leaves, feathers from either their own body or their prey’s, squashed pellets, and barks.

Other times they do not use any linings at all. Since their nests are very fragile, it becomes impossible to use those nests for a long time.

If the owls live in a northern region, they build their nests very early in the year.

They do this to have shelter in the winter, and their offspring will become capable of hunting for their food.

Mating and Eggs

Male Great Horned Owls fly spectacularly to impress the female birds during courtship. These owls are monogamous and defensive over their territory.

A mating pair might live in the same region but have different roosting.

The female Great Horned Owls lay 2 to 3 or 1 to 5 eggs at once. Very rarely, they lay six eggs together.

Their eggs have a muted white color. The mother bird incubates the egg for 30 to 35 days. During this time, the male bird brings food for the mother.

After hatching, both father and mother birds provide the young birds with food.

2. Barn Owl (Tyto alba)

They are one of the rarest owls in North Dakota, even though they are found throughout Mexico and the US. Barn Owl got this name because they live in abandoned buildings and barns.

Identifying Features

They have a medium-sized body more extensive than an average screech owl but smaller than the great-horned owl. Barn owls have long and rounded wings.

This species has a distinct flight style due to its small tails.

They also have long, quiet legs with round, smooth heads, uneven ears, and no tuft. If you compare them with other birds, you will find that they have crow-sized bodies.

Barn Owls have light-colored bodies with dark-colored eyes. They have brownish-yellow heads with a mixture of gray. The same color is on their upper wings and backs.

Their body, face, and underwings have a white color. If you find them at night, they look like a block of white.

Unlike most other birds, female Barn Owls are more colorful than males. They have a rustic red color with bright spots on their chest.

Food Habit

Their food items mostly consist of small mammals with some occasional birds. They feed on mice, rats, lemmings, voles, moles, rabbits, hares, bats, and shrews. These birds like starlings, meadowlarks, and blackbirds as well.

Since they hunt at night, animals that are active during the day, such as chipmunks and squirrels, are quite safe from owls.

Before winter and incubation, Barn Owls stock up on their food by increasing their hunting. This owl swallows their food whole with bone, skin, and all.

Nesting Pattern

They build their nests in holes in trees, caves, and riverbank burrows. Barn Owls build their nests on artificial structures, such as churches, houses, barns, haystacks, and lofts.

Only the female owls contribute to building the nests. They use their pellets to build their nest by squishing it with their feet and giving it a cup shape.

Unlike other owls, barn owls can reuse their nests year after year due to their sturdy framework.

Mating and Eggs

Barn Owls are monogamous and mate for life. But sometimes, a male bird might have multiple female partners at once.

During the courtship, the males display a unique technique called moth flight, where they hover near the female for some time. The males also built a spectacular nest to attract the females.

After they mate, the female bird lays from 2 to 18 eggs. The eggs are mottled white and get brown spots from the nest.

Mother owls incubate the eggs for 30 to 35 days. During this time, the father owl brings food for the mother.

3. Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus)

They are the largest of all own in North America. Due to their constantly declining population, they have become one of the rarest owls.

They migrate to North Dakota in the winter season. Snowy owls migrate to Alaska and southern Canada as well.

They can mostly be found in the Arctic during the summer.

Identifying Features

Snowy owls are giant owls about the same size as a great horned owl and a crow.

They have a polished, round head without any tufts on the ears. Snowy Owls, with their hefty body and thick featherings on both legs, look extensive when they sit on flat surfaces.

This owl has a body full of white feathers with black and brown spots on them.

Female snowy owls have more dark markings than male ones. In contrast, the male snowy owls have a lighter coloring on their body, which becomes whiter as they grow older.

Both male and female Snowy Owls have sharp catlike bright yellow eyes that help them target their prey.

Food Habit

Snowy Owls’ diet primarily consists of small mammals called lemmings on the tundra. From time to time, they prey on waterfowl and ptarmigans.

They also include mice, rats, squirrels, hares, rabbits, weasels, seabirds, geese, ducks, and wading birds in their diet. Occasionally, they eat carrions and fish if they need to.

Being one of the speediest owls, Snowy Owls can catch other birds on the flight.

Habitat and Nesting

Their nesting depends on the abundance of lemmings. If sufficient lemmings are available, they face no problems building their nests.

But if there is a scarcity of lemming, they might not create any nests.

Snowy Owls prefer to build their nests across the Great Plains, tundra, airport fields, and seaside sands. Unlike most other owls and birds, Snowy Owls prefer open spots and treeless sites to build their nest.

This is because they hunt on the ground and needs a lot of space to maneuver. They also find haystacks, buildings, poles, and posts to build their nests during cold seasons.

Male Snowy Owls chose the territory to build their nests in. On the other hand, female owls choose the spot within the territory for nest building.

Only the female owls participate in making the nests. They find a soft, impressionable ground and shape it according to their needs.

Mating and Eggs

Snowy Owls put on a captivating mating show. During courtship, male owls fly in the air with a dramatic beating of their wings and carry a lemming in their mouth.

Then it dives steeply into the ground, giving an owl a V form. In the ground, the male owl drops the lemming and spreads its tail as the female bird comes near.

Female Snowy Owls lay about 3 to 11 eggs at a time. The egg number can increase or decrease depending on the availability of lemmings.

And the eggs are white with brown dirt stains on them.

Mother birds of this species incubate the eggs for 30 to 35 days while the father bird brings food.

The eggs do not hatch together, so the mother will still be incubating the last few eggs while caring for the newly hatched offspring.

4. Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus)

Short-Eared Owls are easy to spot due to their almost invisible ear. During the winter, they live in the western region of North Dakota.

But in the summer season, they prefer to live in the eastern areas of North Dakota.

Identifying Features

Short-eared Owls have almost invisible ears, so they are named such. This owl has an average crow-sized body larger than the Rock Pigeons but smaller than the Great Horned Owls.

They have a round head and wide wings with smooth, rounded tips. With their short legs, they look quite small from a distance.

Short-eared Owls are deep brown with brownish-yellow and white sightings on the upper body surface. They have a light-toned faces with piercing yellow eyes with black borders.

This owl has excessive brown markings on its chest with a faded and yellowish-brown colored stomach and chest.

Their underwings have a deep mark with parentheses shape around the wrist, and their upper wings have a light smudge in the base.

Food Habit

Short-eared Owls love to eat voles and mice from small mammals. They eat moles, hares, rabbits, lemmings, shrews, rats, bats, gophers, muskrats, and weasels.

If they do not have enough small mammals near their habitat, their population tends to decline exponentially.

This owl eats various birds, including gulls, songbirds, terns, rails, and storm petrels. Short-eared Owls are the main hunter of thrush birds in Hawaii, an endangered species.

They swallow their prey with skins, bones, and all. Occasionally, they will remove the wings from small birds before devouring them.

Habitat and Nesting

Short-eared Owls lodge in vast open areas with low foliage. They also choose to reside in prairies, grasslands, coastal areas, meadows, heathlands, savanna, marshes, tundra, agricultural regions, and shrubbed areas.

During the winter, they prefer to live in saline water marshes, freshwater marshes, fields, woodlots, dumps, rock quarries, gravel pits, thickets, and weedy areas.

Unlike most other birds and owls, they prefer to build their nests on the ground and in short trees. Short-eared Owls prefer dry lands with vegetation to hide the brooding mother.

This owl builds its own nest. Female birds scrape the soil and give it a bowl shape.

Then it lines the nest with softer materials such as feathers, leaves, and grasses. They sometimes build new nests over old nests to reuse them.

Mating and Eggs

Male Short-eared Owls fly up into the air in a spiral and hoot continuously during courtship. Then the male bird dives toward the ground with an exaggerated flapping of wings.

In the flight of courtship, they do acrobatic techniques while whistling.

Female Short-eared Owls lay 1 to 11 or 6 to 8 eggs simultaneously and incubate them for 25 to 38 days.

The eggs are white with dirt stains from the nest. Male owls do not participate in incubation, but they bring food for the female bird during this time and defend their nest from other hunting animals.

5. Northern Hawk Owl (Surnia ulula)

Northern Hawk Owls are rarely seen in North Dakota. They mainly reside in northern Canada all through the year.

But in case of food shortage in winter, they decide to migrate to North Alaska.

Identifying Features

Northern Hawk Owls have a medium-sized body that is the same as an average crow.

They are mightier than a Boreal Owl but smaller than the Great Horned Owl. Their bodies have an oval shape with long, pointy tails.

They use their short and sharp wings to fly around and catch prey.

Northern Hawk Owls have a pair of sharp yellow eyes with a black border on a white face. Their upper body surface is brown with white blotches, and their lower body surface is brown with parallel lines.

Food Habit

Northern Hawk Owls mainly live on small mammals, especially rodents such as mice, rats, voles, moles, gerbils, shrews, weasels, and squirrels.

In winter, they include small birds in their diet, such as grouse and ptarmigan. Occasionally they eat fish, frogs, and insects if they need to.

Habitat and Nesting

This owl mainly lives in mixed, open, coniferous forests and marshes with frequent trees. They use the tree branches to perch on and look for prey.

Burned boreal forests are another of their preferred sites to build nests and forage for food.

In the southern region, they construct their nests on woodlands, lakeshores, farmlands, prairies, and pastures.

Both male and female Northern Hawk Owls pick a roosting spot together. They occupy the holes in trees made by woodpeckers and live there without any new building materials.

The fur and pellets of their prey accumulate inside the gaps and give it a soft lining. Very rarely do they build new nests using sticks.

Mating and Eggs

A courting female Northern Hawk Owl flies around the female with a stiff posture and sings. Then both sexes do a dual mating call and bow around.

This owl lays 5 to 7 eggs and occasionally 4 to 9 eggs. Very rarely, they lay 3 to 13 eggs.

The amount of their eggs depends on rodent abundance. If they can eat more, they lay more eggs. Their eggs are white with no spots on them.

The female owl incubates the eggs for 25 to 30 days. During this time, the male owl brings food for the mother and protects its nest.

6. Long-eared Owl (Asio otus)

Long-Eared Owls choose North Dakota during the breeding season. AL the other times, they live in southern regions of the US.

Identifying Features

They have medium-sized bodies that are the same as an average crow. Long-eared Owls are lean and have thick tufts on their ears.

The length and width of their head are more or less the same, which gives them a square look. Furthermore, the rim of feathers around their head is lengthy and tapered.

This owl is smaller than the Great Horned Owls but more extensive than an average Western Screech Owl.

They have a deep-colored body with an orange to yellowish-brown face. Their feathers have complex brown, black, and buff markings.

The tufts on their ears are rich black with yellow to orange edges. Between their bright yellow eyes, there are two upstanding white bars.

Food Habit

Long-eared Owls mainly live on mammals with occasional small birds. From mammals, they feed on kangaroo rats, mice, gophers, rabbits, hairs, and squirrels.

Long-eared Owls eat weasels, bats, lizards, and snakes from time to time. They hunt in a wide-open area and fly low above the ground to catch their prey.

Habitat and Nesting

Long-eared Owls choose their roosting place for thick vegetation, open land forages, deciduous and coniferous woodlands, open meadows, and shrublands. They prefer to make their nests on cottonwood, willow, and juniper trees.

Mating and Eggs

Male owls do an aerial display for the female birds during the breeding season. They meander around the nest by flapping their wings dramatically and gliding around the female bird.

After mating, the female bird lays around 2 to 10 eggs and sometimes 4 to 6 eggs at once. The eggs have a stark white color.

Females incubate the eggs for 25 to 30 days. During this period, the male bird brings food for the mother.

7. Great Gray Owl (Strix nebulosa)

They are one of the giant owls in the whole US. Great Gray Owls only live in the eastern part of North Dakota state. They only move during freezing winter.

Identifying Features

The Great Gray Owl looks like it is wearing a gray suit and a bow tie and has a surprised gaze. They are one of the tallest owls.

This owl is more prominent than an average Great Horned Owl but weighs less than the Great Horned. They are also larger than a crow but slighter than a goose and a Bald eagle.

This species of owl has a pair of vast wings and an extensive tail. Their head is quite big, and the rimming feathers are larger than most owls’.

They dominate over most other owls in size but not in weight. This is due to the thick feather coverings on their body.

Female Great Gray Owls are significantly larger than their opposite gender.

The overall color of the Great Gray Owl’s body is shimmering gray with brown, gray, and white markings. Their feathers also have pale lines on them.

And their striking, yellow eyes sit between two circular facial disks. These two circles give an X shape between their eyes.

The bill of both males and females is a pale-yellow color.

Food Habit

Various small mammals are the main items on the Great Gray Owls’ diet. This includes voles, moles, rats, mice, pocket gophers, lemmings, shrews, squirrels, and weasels.

They also feed on small birds and, occasionally, amphibians such as frogs and toads.

Habitat and Nesting

This owl mainly resides in coniferous forests, bogs, meadows, dense and damp forests, and open areas with scattered trees. They choose their nests in pine and fir trees.

This owl occupies residents of ravens or squirrels rather than building one on its own. They do not add any new building materials to the occupied nests.

Great Gray Owls also lodge in artificial nests. If the female bird cannot find a nest during labor, it creates a slight slouch and lays the eggs.

Mating and Eggs

The male owl feeds the female during courtship. They also clean each other’s feathers during this time.

Mating pairs might not stay together after the breeding season.

After mating, they lay 2 to 5 white eggs. If food is abundant, the number of eggs laid might increase.

The female bird incubates the eggs for 30 to 35 days. During this time, the male owl brings food for the mother and may help her to eat.

8. Northern Saw-Whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus)

During the breeding season, Northern Saw-Whet owls choose the eastern region of North Dakota. But during the nonbreeding period, they decide to live all over the state.

Identifying Features

Northern Saw-whet Owl is one of the tiniest owls with a robin-sized body. Compared to their overall size, they have a pretty large head with a round shape and two ears without any tufts.

They are a bit heftier but more compact than an average Hairy Woodpecker and smaller than the Eastern Screech Owls.

Northern Saw-whet Owls have a bland brown colored body with an almost white facial disk. Their heads have white spots on them with two piercing yellow eyes.

Younger Northern Saw-whet Owls are deep brown with a light-yellow chest and stomach.

Food Habit

Their diet primarily consists of tiny mammals that they hunt at night and mainly along the borders of forests.

White-footed and deer mice are among their most common prey, including jumping mice, harvest mice, pocket mice, house mice, shrews, montane voles, meadow voles, red-backed voles, red tree voles, bats, and shrew moles.

They also eat other immature small mammals, such as chipmunks, pocket gophers, and squirrels.

During their migration, they prefer to eat many small birds and owls, such as piglets, titmice, juncos, chickadees, sparrows, waxwings, robins, warblers, and wrens.

From insects, they prefer to eat moths, ants, flies, bees, grasshoppers, and beetles.

If the Northern Saw-whet Owls live by the coastlines, their diet primarily consists of different isopods and amphipods.

Habitat and Nesting

Northern Saw-whet Owls mainly pick old forests for foraging, deciduous forests for nesting, coniferous forests for roosting, and riverside areas for living.

They build their nests mainly in coniferous woods, deciduous forests, riverside trees, shrubs, and savannahs.

Coastal areas, poplar plantations, and meadows are also some places Northern Saw-whet Owls prefer to build their nests.

Female Northern Saw-whet Owls choose the nest site with the help of the male owls.

They do not build their nests. When they need to lay their eggs, female Northern Saw-whet Owls find debris at the base of different spaces.

For their base, they select twigs, grass, moss, hairs, woodchips, mammal bones, and starling nests.

Mating and Eggs

Usually, the Northern Saw-whet Owls are monogamous. Male birds might have multiple mates when they have an abundance of prey.

During the courtship, male birds start their mating call, which is a too-too-too sound. When the female birds hear the too-too-too sound, they respond with one of their calls that sounds like continuous whistling.

After both males and females come near each other, the male bird circles the female approximately 20 times and then sits beside her with a prey clasped in its mouth.

Every year, both male and female Northern Saw-whet Owls find new mates for themselves. After mating, the female bird lays 5 to 6 eggs, sometimes 4 to 7, at once.

Occasionally the birds lay about 3 to 9 eggs altogether. The eggs are white with a very smooth surface.

Female Northern Saw-whet Owls incubate the eggs for 30 to 35 days while the male birds bring them food.

9. Eastern Screech-Owl (Megascops asio)

You can find the Eastern Screech Owl all over North Dakota except in the northwestern region. They have the same ancestor as the Western Screech Owls.

Identifying Features

Their robin-sized body makes Eastern Screech-Owls significantly heavier than an average European Starling.

They are quite short and compact but have comparatively large heads without necks.

Rounded wings and short, square tails are another set of distinctive features. With raised tufts on their ears, their heads give a peculiar outline.

Eastern Screech-Owls can be of two colors: gray or rufous, which is a reddish-brown color. Their whole body has intricate lines and spots, which help them to camouflage in danger.

With their sharp yellow eyes, they can target their prey easily.

Food Habit

Eastern Screech-Owls have a diverse palate that includes almost every tiny mammal, various small birds, insects, small reptiles, and amphibians.

Some of their most-eaten foods are insects, tadpoles, lizards, frogs, and crayfish. Their list of small mammals includes mice, rats, moles, voles, hares, and rabbits.

In the case of small birds, they prefer waxwings, thrushes, finches, swallows, and flycatchers. Doves, grouse, shorebirds, jays, and woodpeckers are some of the comparatively larger birds they like to eat.

Habitat and Nesting

This worldwide-found owl can choose any tree for its habitat. They also roost and breed in parks, landscapes, and farmlands.

Without any trees, their chances of survival decrease drastically.

They prefer to nest in holes in trees. However, since they cannot dig a hole, they depend on fungal rots, squirrels, and woodpeckers to create cavities.

Sometimes, they also roost in man-made birdhouses.

The female Eastern Screech-Owls lay their eggs in these holes and create a dent under the eggs with their body.

Mating and Eggs

Male Eastern Screech-Owls usually have one mate in each season. But depending on the abundance of food, they might have more than one partner.

During courtship, the male owl bows, flap its wings and clicks its bills at the female bird. It also brings a prey clasping in its mouth for the female.

Both male and female partners clean each other’s feathers in a display of affection.

After mating, they lay about 4 to 5 eggs and sometimes 2 to 8 eggs at a time which are white. The female bird incubates the eggs for 28 to 35 days while the male bird brings food for the mother.

10. Boreal Owl (Aegolius funereus)

Unlike the Eastern Screech Owls, Boreal Owls live only in the northeastern region of North Dakota. But in case of food scarcity, they travel to their neighboring regions.

Identifying Features

They are comparatively smaller with a robin-sized body, larger than an average Northern Saw-whet Owl but smaller than the Barred Owls.

Boreal Owls have a square-shaped head with two ears with no tufts. Their compacted body and small tail look very tiny from a distance.

They have a brown body that has white marks on the back. Their mostly white stomach is full of brown spots.

They have a pair of sharp yellow eyes in a gray disc. The Boreal Owls’ head is densely marked with small white spots.

Food Habit

This owl eats different types of small mammals, insects, and birds. They choose rats, mice, voles, squirrels, and shrews from small mammals.

From insects, they mainly prefer to eat various-sized crickets.

Habitat and Nesting

Boreal Owls live in the boreal forest’s poplar, aspen, birch, spruce, and fir. They do not build their nests.

This bird claims holes in the trees that woodpeckers create as their own.

Mating and Eggs

In courtship, the male bird tries to attract the female birds with songs, dances, and food.

They remain monogamous for each breeding season. After that, they find a new partner for themselves.

This bird lays 3 to 4 eggs and sometimes 2 to 5 eggs at once. The female bird incubates the eggs for 25 to 30 days while the male bird brings her food.

11. Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia)

Burrowing Owls prefer North Dakota for their breeding process. Otherwise, they live in comparatively warmer areas for the rest of the ear, like Mexico and Arizona.

Identifying Features

Burrowing Owls are quite small and are the same as the American Robin in length and height. However, they are much heavier than an American Robin.

With their size that falls between a robin and a crow, they are a bit smaller than the Western Screech Owls.

Their small body has small tails but comparatively long legs. Burrowing Owl’s round head has two ears with no tufts.

Adult Burrowing Owls are brown with faded yellow spots on the upper surface of the body. Their chests have dense spots, and their stomachs have light-brown to dark-brown lines.

Burrowing Owls have stark white eyebrows and throats. Their sharp yellow eyes help them target their prey from a great distance.

The Young Burrowing Owl has a paler body with brownish-yellow markings underneath and on the wings.

Food Habit

Burrowing Owls eat both vertebrates and invertebrates, and small mammals. They mainly prey on moths, grasshoppers, beetles, crickets, voles, shrews, squirrels, rats, bats, weasels, rabbits, and mice.

Some of their favorite insects are water bugs, dragonflies, earwigs, scorpions, earthworms, and caterpillars. They also feed on snakes, lizards, toads, and frogs.

In the case of birds, they prefer waterbirds, songbirds, ducks, and burrowing owls.

Habitat and Nesting

Burrowing Owls mainly reside in open areas with fewer trees and sparse vegetation.

They can also be found in deserts, grasslands, golf courts, agricultural fields, pastures, airport medians, vacant lots, and cemeteries.

This owl builds their select highly dense burrows for their habitat. They prefer loose soils and elevated sites to avoid the accumulation of water.

Both male and female birds help in building and maintaining the burrows. Ground squirrels, badgers, skinks, armadillos, prairie dogs, and tortoises usually dig their holes.

Mating and Eggs

Mating pairs fly up and down during courtship. The male bird brings food for the female. Both partners gnaw at each other’s bills and clean their feathers.

After mating, the female bird lays eggs and the eggs are mostly white with stain markings on them. Female birds incubate the eggs for 28 to 30 days. During this time, the male bird brings food for the mother.

Profile of the Species

Below is a table with all the physical and behavioral attributes of the owls found in North Dakota.

NameLengthWeightWingspanCommonly Found InBehaviorInteresting Fact
Great Horned Owl18 to 25 inches32 to 88 oz40 to 57 inchesDesert, Forest, Backyard, Grassland, Wetland, Swamp, Park, Arctic, Tropical AreasAggressive, Fearless, Fierce, NocturnalHunt mammals and birds larger than itself
Barn Owl15.5 to 16 inches14 to 25 oz39.5 to 49.5 inchesCrop Field, Desert, Grassland, Marsh, Forest, Ranchland, Woodlot, Field, City, SuburbNocturnal, Solitary or Social, DefensiveScreech rather than hoot; uneven ears
Snowy Owl20.5 to 18 inches56.5 to 104 oz49.5 to 57 inchesTundra, Arctic, Great Plains, Treeless SpotsDefensive, Determined, Aerial DivingRepresented in European cave paintings, Once attacked arctic wolves
Short-Eared Owl13.5 to 17 inches7.5 to 17 oz33.5 to 40.5 inchesTundra, Prairies, Dunes, Marshes, Meadows, FieldsAerial Diving, Defensive, TerritorialBenefits from strip mining; Can be seen during the day
Northern Hawk Owl14 to 18 inches8.5 to 16 oz28 inchesBoreal forests, bogs, Conifer Forests, MuskegsHawk-like behavior, hunting in the presence of daylightEar openings symmetrical
Long-Eared Owl13.5 to 16 inches7.5 to 15.5 oz35.5 to 40 inchesConifer forest, WoodlandNocturnalMale hoot heard up to 1 kilometer away
Great Gray Owl24 to 33 inches25 to 60 oz54 to 60 inchesBogs, Coniferous forests, MeadowsSolitary, Nocturnal  Asymmetrical ear opening
Northern Saw-Whet Owl7 to 8.5 inches2.5 to 5.5 oz16.5 to 19 inchesForests, GrovesFierce, SilentThe call sounds like the grinding of a saw
Eastern Screech Owl6.5 to 10 inches4.5 to 8.5 oz20 to 24 inchesWoodlands, Groves, Mixed ForestsNocturnal, Solitary, Laid-backIn danger, tightens body to look like a tree branch
Boreal Owl2.5 to 11 inches3.5 to 7.5 oz21.5 to 24.5 inchesBoreal forests, Mixed forestsSolitary, NocturnalShow leading sexual dimorphism, Asymmetrical ear opening
Burrowing Owl7.5 to 10 inches4.5 to 5.5 oz18 to 22 inchesAirfields, Grasslands, Farmlands, PrairiesBoth nocturnal and diurnal, forage in groundHighly tolerant to carbon dioxide

Final Words

After observing the owls in North Dakota, my interest in them has only increased. Hopefully, after going reading the article, you also share my excitement for them.

Keep in mind that you will find some owls all over North Dakota, but some only in a specific region. So, to see them, you must be mindful of the seasons and regions.

Owls Found in Nearby States of North Dakota:

Feature Image Credits: Jim Cumming, Shutterstock

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