8 Types of Owls in Kentucky

Types of Owls in Kentucky
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Do you live in Kentucky, or are you planning a visit? If so, you may be surprised to find out how many owls call the Bluegrass State home!

There are various types of owls in Kentucky that you may not have heard of.

From the Northern Saw-Whet Owl to the Barred Owl, a wide variety of owls can be found in Kentucky.

In this blog post, we will take a look at some of the most common types of owls in Kentucky and tell you where to spot them.

So grab your binoculars, and let’s get started!

1. Barred Owl

The Barred Owl is a medium-sized, nocturnal owl native to the eastern United States and parts of Canada.

They are found in wooded habitats and can often be seen hunting in open fields or along the edges of forests.

In Kentucky, Barred Owls are mostly active during the night and can be seen perched atop dead trees or gliding through wooded areas searching for prey.

They have a distinct call, often sounding like, “who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?”.

The Barred Owl’s coloration ranges from dark brown to light gray, with a light-colored belly and a distinctive facial pattern featuring a white-barred breast and two dark eyes.

They hunt small mammals, such as mice and voles, amphibians, reptiles, and insects. 

They are the starters of this list of the types of owls in Kentucky and usually nest in tree cavities or abandoned nests of other birds but may also nest on the ground.

The best places to look for Barred Owls in Kentucky are forested areas with plenty of dead trees or along the edges of woodlands where they can perch while searching for food.

2. Long-Eared Owl

The Long-eared Owl is a small and slender owl on this list of various types of owls in Kentucky. It has long, rounded wings, a long tail, yellow eyes, and a black bill. This owl can be found throughout the state in wooded areas, wetlands, and meadows. In the summertime, the Long-eared Owl migrates from Canada southward to Kentucky. 

The Long-eared Owl is highly secretive and is typically active during the night. They hunt for small rodents and other animals, such as voles and shrews. During winter, the Long-eared Owl will roost in thick vegetation or cavities in trees to stay warm. To identify the Long-eared Owl, you should look for its long ear tufts, which are distinctive features.

3. Short-Eared Owl

The Short-eared Owl is a species of owl that can be found in the state of Kentucky. This species of owl is most active during the night but can sometimes be seen during the day as well. It has a unique coloring with a brown-and-white pattern and yellow eyes. 

The Short-eared Owl can also be identified by its vocalizations, which sound like a series of hoots, screeches, and whistles. The Short-eared Owl can be found across the grasslands and open woodlands of the state, particularly in the western part of Kentucky. 

These types of owls in Kentucky are often seen hunting for food in meadows or other grassy areas. They can also be spotted perched on fence posts or in trees. They typically eat small mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and even insects.

4. Northern Saw-Whet Owl

The Northern Saw-Whet Owl is one of the smallest types of owls in Kentucky and is known for its bright yellow eyes. These owls can be found throughout the state, especially in wooded areas and fields. They are generally found roosting in trees during the day and often call out to one another at night. These owls are easily identified by their white or grayish-brown plumage and barred tails. 

Northern Saw-Whet Owls feed mainly on small rodents such as mice, voles, and shrews, but they also take small birds and insects. They are mostly nocturnal hunters but sometimes hunt when food is scarce during the day. 

During the breeding season, they can be found in pairs in the same area, usually a forest or woodland habitat. To find them, look for their calls at night and listen for their distinctive whistle-like hooting sound.

5. Snowy Owl

The Snowy Owl is one of the most iconic types of owls in Kentucky, although they are quite rare. These beautiful white birds, with their distinctive yellow eyes, can be found mainly in the northern and eastern parts of the state. They prefer open areas such as grasslands, tundra, and agricultural fields that provide a good food source. 

They usually feed on small mammals such as lemmings and voles, but they will also take insects, frogs, and other small birds if available. During winter, they may migrate to more temperate climates for food. 

If you’re lucky enough to spot a Snowy Owl in the wild, it will likely be during the winter months or when migration occurs. You may have better luck spotting one at one of Kentucky’s wildlife refuges or a local bird sanctuary. Regardless, it will be a memorable experience!

6. Eastern Screech-Owl

The Eastern Screech-Owl is one of the most commonly found types of owl in Kentucky. These small to medium-sized owls have grey, red, and brown markings and a round facial disc. They are generally found in forested areas but can also be spotted near wetlands and meadows. 

They feed mainly on insects and small rodents but eat small birds and other prey. They typically hunt at night and can be heard calling during dusk and dawn. Eastern Screech-Owls can be seen in many areas throughout the state, including eastern deciduous forests, limestone glades, and in riparian corridors.

7. Great Horned Owl

The Great Horned Owl is one of North America’s most common owls and may be found in various habitats. These owls are huge, with wingspans of up to five feet. They are primarily brown and white, with dark bars on their wings and tail. 

Great Horned Owls, one of the most amazing owls in Kentucky, have huge, round heads and orange-yellow eyes. These owls get their name from the tufts of feathers on their heads that resemble horns. Great Horned Owls are predators that target a wide range of tiny animals. They use their keen claws and beaks to kill their prey. 

Great Horned Owls are mainly active at night but can also be observed during the day. If you spot a Great Horned Owl, keep a safe distance from it. These owls are known to be hostile and have attacked humans. If you hear a Great Horned Owl, you will recognize it by its powerful hooting call.

8. Spotting Owl

Lastly, these birds are listed on this list of the different types of owls in Kentucky. Spotting Owls in Kentucky can be a thrilling experience. When attempting to identify these birds of prey, there are various factors to consider. Owls have several distinguishing qualities that set them apart from other birds.

The form of the owl’s head is the first thing you should look for. Owls have a particular head shape that distinguishes them from other birds. Their heads are broad and round, with wide eyes. Their ears are likewise positioned on the sides of their heads, which aids in hearing prey.


If you’re looking to find some of the most majestic creatures in Kentucky, look no further than the many types of owls in the state.

With its dense forests, Kentucky is home to a variety of owl species that can be seen throughout the state. 

Here, we covered the types of owls in Kentucky and where you can find them.

Read the above, from the Great Horned Owl to the Barred Owl, to learn more about these incredible creatures and the best places to spot them in the Bluegrass State.

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