9 Types of Owls in Wisconsin

Types of Owls in Wisconsin
Photo by ambquinn

Wisconsin is home to some of the most fascinating wildlife in the world, including various owls.

With so many species living in the state, it can be difficult to track them all.

To help, this blog post will provide an overview of the most common types of owls in Wisconsin, including information on their habitats and behaviors. 

Whether you are a novice birder or a seasoned wildlife enthusiast, this guide to the types of owls in Wisconsin will help you identify and appreciate these mysterious and captivating creatures.

Now, let’s get down to the business of the day!

1. Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl
by USFWS Mountain Prairie is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Great Horned Owl is one of the most widespread types of owls in Wisconsin.

These majestic birds of prey have large, powerful bodies and distinctive ear tufts, which are actually feathers.

They are often found in woodland habitats, hunting for small mammals such as mice, squirrels, and rabbits. 

These types of owls in Wisconsin may also hunt for frogs, reptiles, and insects. During the day, Great Horned Owls roost in trees or dense shrubbery.

The Great Horned Owl’s call is distinctively loud and deep and can be heard long distances. 

Their diet varies by region, but they typically feed on smaller mammals such as rodents and bats, but they may also eat small birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish.

During the nesting season, these owls are often seen defending their nests with their powerful talons.

They are also known to be very aggressive when protecting their young.

2. Short-Eared Owl

Short-eared Owl - Types of Owls in Michigan
by James St. John is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) is a medium-sized owl that is a year-round resident of Wisconsin.

These owls prefer open, grassy habitats and have adapted to nesting and roosting in grasslands and wetlands.

They are most active at dawn and dusk when they can be seen flying low over the ground, looking for small mammals and insects to eat. 

The males make a distinctive “hoo-hoo-hoo” call that can be heard on spring evenings.

Short-eared Owls are recognizable by their orange-brown facial disks, short ear tufts, and long wings.

Their bodies are usually greyish-brown with light streaks and bars, with white spots on the wings. 

These types of owls in Wisconsin are quite large, measuring up to 16 inches in length and with wingspans of up to four feet.

They often hunt in open fields, searching for small animals like mice, voles, and ground squirrels.

3. American Barn Owl

Barn Owl
by DarrelBirkett is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The American Barn Owl (Tyto furcata) is a medium-sized species of owl found in North and Central America.

It is one of the most widely distributed owls, with populations in every state except Hawaii.

In Wisconsin, the American Barn Owl can be seen in agricultural and grassland habitats and suburban areas.

These owls are typically active at night, though they may be seen during the day if disturbed or hungry.

They have an elongated, heart-shaped face with bright yellow eyes and small, white feathers on their head and wings. 

They also have large, long wings and a long tail, which helps them maneuver quickly in flight.

American Barn Owls, which are types of owls in Wisconsin, feed primarily on small mammals such as mice, voles, and shrews.

They also consume insects, reptiles, and other small animals.

4. Northern Saw-Whet Owl

Northern Saw-whet Owl - Types of Owls in Michigan
by Kristina_Servant is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus) is one of the most common types of owls in Wisconsin.

They are small, measuring about 7-10 inches in length, and have reddish-brown upper parts with pale brown to whitish underparts.

Their call is a series of soft “toot” notes that are often heard at dusk and throughout the night. 

The Northern Saw-whet Owl can be found in wooded habitats such as forests, woodlots, and urban parks, usually in areas with a high density of trees.

They generally breed during the spring and summer, nesting in tree cavities or abandoned nests.

During the winter, they may roost in large flocks, often along roadsides or near buildings. 

These small owls feed mainly on rodents, voles, other mammals, and insects.

They can be seen hunting during the early evening hours in Wisconsin, making them an ideal sighting for anyone hoping to spot one of Wisconsin’s native owls.

5. Barred Owl

Barred Owl
by Andy Morffew is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Barred Owl (Strix varia) is a medium-sized owl native to Wisconsin.

It is one of the most widely distributed owls in the world, found in forests, wetlands, and urban habitats throughout the state.

These nocturnal owls feed primarily on small mammals, frogs, fish, and insects. They typically hunt during the night and roost in trees during the day. 

Barred Owls, as types of owls in Wisconsin, have a unique call which consists of 8–9 hoots, usually in sets of two or four.

They also have distinctive white bars across their chest and wings, giving them a striped appearance.

With their distinct calls and white markings, these owls are a truly remarkable sight to behold!

6. Eastern Screech-Owl

Eastern Screech Owl
by Me in ME is licensed under CC BY 2.0

These aren’t left out of our list of the various types of owls in Wisconsin.

The Eastern Screech-Owl is a small and shy species of owl that is native to the state of Wisconsin.

These birds can be found in wooded areas, streams, abandoned barns, and other old buildings. 

The Eastern Screech-Owl has a grayish-brown plumage with horizontal barring on its wings and tail.

Also, it has yellow eyes and a white throat with black streaks. Its call is a high-pitched trill or whistle, often used to attract mates. 

The Eastern Screech-Owl is most active during twilight hours and is sometimes seen perched atop trees or on fence posts during the day.

This owl species is threatened by habitat destruction, and its population is declining in many parts of Wisconsin.

However, with conservation efforts, the population of Eastern Screech-Owls can be maintained in the state for years to come.

7. Long-Eared Owl

Long-eared Owl
by CheepShot is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Long-eared Owl is also one of the several types of owls in Wisconsin.

This medium-sized owl is mostly found in wooded areas and is often seen perched on tree limbs or branches.

It has long ears and yellow eyes, and its feathers are mottled gray, brown, and black. 

Further, it is a nocturnal hunter, and its diet includes small mammals such as mice, voles, and shrews.

The Long-eared Owl is listed as an endangered species in Wisconsin due to habitat loss and disruption, but it can still be found in the state’s forests and grasslands.

8. Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl
by Harlequeen is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Snowy Owl is an iconic species of owl that is native to Wisconsin.

This large, white-colored bird of prey is one of the state’s most beloved and recognizable birds.

Snowy Owls inhabit various habitats, including open tundra, grasslands, coastal marshes, and boreal forests. 

In Wisconsin, they are most often seen in open fields near lakes and ponds during the winter.

They have also been known to reside in wooded areas near rivers, wetlands, and other areas where they can find plenty of food sources. 

These particular types of owls in Wisconsin are diurnal predators and are easily identified by their stark white plumage and yellow eyes.

They feed mainly on small mammals such as voles, mice, and hares.

9. Great Gray Owl

Great Gray Owl - Types of Owls in Michigan
by Opt1mus76 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

They are magnificent raptors if you are lucky enough to see one. Many folks believe they are dressed in a gray suit with a bow tie around their neck!

These owls have a large range; however, they prefer to live in the woodland near a clearing. 

It’s especially useful in the winter when they require a lot of space to listen for mice racing beneath the snow so they can crash through and capture a meal!

They require a lot of food because they are so large, consuming up to 7 rodents per day. This wraps up our list of the different types of owls in Wisconsin!


If you’re looking to explore Wisconsin’s wide array of wildlife, you’ll be glad to know that the state is home to some of the most impressive and unique species of owls in the world.

From the large Great Horned Owl to the smaller Northern Saw-whet Owl, Wisconsin is a great place to observe these fascinating birds. 

In the article above, we provided a guide to the most common types of owls in Wisconsin, including their habitats, behaviors, and more.

So read it to find out more about the various types of owls in Wisconsin!

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