9 Different Types of Owls in Iowa

Different Types of Owls in Iowa
Photo by Kevin Crosby

Did you know that there are many different types of owls in Iowa? If you live in Iowa or plan to visit soon, you can discover the wide variety of owls that call this state home.

Iowa is home to several different species of owl, each of which can be identified by its unique characteristics. 

In this blog post, we will explore the different types of owls in Iowa, including their habitat, diet, and behavior.

By learning about these beautiful birds, you can better appreciate the natural beauty of Iowa and the diverse wildlife it offers.

1. Barred Owl

The Barred Owl, the first on this list of the types of owls in Iowa, is also known as the ‘hoot owl.’ They have large, round heads with large yellow eyes and can grow up to 25 inches long. The Barred Owl’s feathers are a mottled brown-gray and have a distinct white and black pattern along their wings and back. 

These owls prefer to live in wooded areas such as forests and swamps and hunt small mammals, fish, insects, and other birds. They are most active at night, so if you want to observe them, you’ll need to be prepared to stay out late!  Barred Owls are monogamous, meaning that they will mate for life with one partner. 

The female will lay between two to four eggs during the breeding season, which starts around March. The parents will then take turns incubating the eggs for about 30 days until they hatch. After hatching, the parents will care for the chicks for another two months until they are ready to leave the nest and find food on their own. 

If you’re lucky enough to spot a Barred Owl in Iowa, you’ll probably hear them before you see them. They make a distinctive ‘who-cooks-for-you’ call that has been described as eerie but majestic. So if you ever hear a hoot in the middle of the night, don’t be afraid – it could just be a Barred Owl out hunting!

2. Burrowing Owl

The Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia) is a small, long-legged owl found throughout Iowa. This owl species prefer to nest in Iowa’s open fields, prairies, and grasslands. Burrowing Owls are often seen perched atop fences, posts, or other high points where they can survey their territory. 

They are types of owls in Iowa that feed primarily on small mammals, insects, and other arthropods. Burrowing Owls tend to be most active at dawn and dusk and can often be found hunting along roadsides and edges of fields. Their sandy-brown feathers provide perfect camouflage against the soil, making them almost invisible.

3. Long-Eared Owl

The Long-eared Owl (Asio otus) is a species of owl found in Iowa and other parts of North America. This owl species is known for its long ear tufts and characteristic “hoot.” It is a nocturnal creature, meaning it sleeps during the day and is active at night. 

The Long-eared Owl, one of the types of owls in Iowa, has a length of 14 to 15 inches and a wingspan of 36 to 39 inches. Its weight ranges from 10 to 20 ounces, with males being lighter. They have a distinct facial disc that is yellowish-brown in color and a dark brown body with white spots. Their plumage is dense, which helps them to stay warm in cold weather.

The Long-eared Owl lives in Iowa year-round and can be found in woodlands, agricultural areas, marshes, and grasslands. During the winter months, these birds migrate southward into warmer climates. They hunt mainly small rodents, such as mice and voles, but will also consume birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects.

The Long-eared Owl is generally a solitary bird, but they can be found in groups of two or three during the breeding season. These are types of owls in Iowa that create nests in dense coniferous trees or shrubs, often lined with feathers or fur. The female lays 3 to 5 eggs per clutch.

The Long-eared Owl has been listed as a species of special concern due to their low population numbers and threats from habitat destruction. Conservation efforts are needed to help ensure their survival in Iowa and across the United States.

4. Snowy Owl

The Snowy Owl is a magnificent species of the different types of owls in Iowa. These large, white owls are not as common in Iowa as other species of owls, but they are still seen in some areas of the state. These majestic birds typically inhabit open fields or grasslands, but they can also be found near lake edges and sometimes even the far edges of woodlands. 

The Snowy Owl will hunt for prey during the day and at night, making them one of the only owls to do so. With their large, round heads, bright yellow eyes, and white plumage, these birds are a stunning sight to behold.

5. Short-Eared Owl

The Short-Eared Owl is one of the most common types of owls in Iowa. These owls have small heads, long legs, and brown-streaked feathers ranging from light to dark in color. The Short-Eared Owl’s wingspan is typically between 3.2 and 3.9 feet wide. They also have short, rounded ears and bright yellow eyes. 

During the day, they prefer to rest in open areas such as fields, grasslands, and even sandbars along rivers. They hunt small rodents like voles and moles at night and smaller birds, insects, and amphibians. When threatened, they will dive down or fly away quickly.

6. Northern Saw-Whet Owl

The Northern Saw-whet Owl is a small and slender owl in North America. These birds are commonly found in wooded areas, forests, meadows, and edges of wetlands throughout the United States and Canada. In Iowa, the Northern Saw-whet Owl is generally present during winter and can often be seen roosting in coniferous trees. 

This species of owl has large yellow eyes and a small bill, giving it a unique look compared to other types of owls. They feed on small mammals, such as mice and voles, as well as insects and amphibians. Northern Saw-whet Owls are also types of owls in Iowa that may be heard calling during their breeding season and can be observed hunting at night.

7. Great Horned Owl

The Great Horned Owl is one of the most iconic types of owls in Iowa. It is an impressive large owl with prominent ear tufts and bright yellow eyes. These owls are found in various habitats, ranging from woodlands to prairies, but prefer areas near water sources. 

They are active at night but can sometimes be spotted during the day when they are roosting or hunting. This species is an important part of Iowa’s ecosystem as it helps keep small mammal populations in check.

8. Eastern Screech Owl

The Eastern Screech Owl is one of the most widely distributed types of owls in Iowa. This small owl is known for its distinctive call and its ability to camouflage itself in its natural surroundings. Its body is typically grayish-brown or reddish-brown with fine bars of darker color, while its head is usually a bit darker than its body. 

Furthermore, its wingspan can reach up to 24 inches, and its average weight is around 5 ounces. It can be found in various habitats, including suburban and urban areas. However, it prefers deciduous forests where it can hunt small mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects.

9. Barn Owl

The Barn Owl is one of the most common types of owls in Iowa. It is easily recognizable with its unique heart-shaped face and long, white, and brown wings. It is a large, stocky owl with a wingspan of up to four feet. They prefer to hunt over open fields and are well-adapted to living near humans. Barn owls can be found throughout Iowa, but they are most commonly seen in rural areas.

The Barn Owl has an interesting diet consisting mainly of small mammals, such as voles, mice, shrews, and rats. They are also known to eat insects and sometimes small birds. They have great eyesight and excellent hearing, which allows them to detect their prey from a long distance. Barn owls are nocturnal animals and hunt at night, using their stealthy flight to capture their prey.

In Iowa, Barn Owls are an important part of our natural ecosystems. They help to keep rodent populations in check, thus preventing crop damage and other agricultural problems. As the human population expands, it is important to protect and conserve this species to continue performing its vital role in our environment.


Iowa is home to various interesting animals, including several species of owls. Owls are nocturnal birds that are often associated with wisdom and mystery.

There are several different types of owls in Iowa that call the state home, and they can be found in various habitats. 

Above, we explored the different types of owls in Iowa that you can find, as well as some tips for spotting them.

So, if you’re interested in discovering the different types of owls in Iowa, read the article above!

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
You May Also Like