12 Owls that Live in Minnesota (and Where You’re Likely to See Them)

Only a few owl species can be found in several US states. Nonetheless, Minnesota’s location inside the Union allows it to offer an ideal habitat for a variety of owl species. Some people migrate through here, while others live here year-round. Let’s talk about the 12 owl species that may be found in Minnesota, including their preferred nesting locations and the places in which they can be found.

1. Great Horned Owl

The great horned owl is one of the most well-known owls in Minnesota. Large tufts of feathers on the head, a compact body, and a confident hunting and soaring gait make this owl easy to identify. Furthermore, the great horned owl inhabits a range of environments. They are found in grasslands, farms, cities, and woods. This provides a multitude of opportunities for bird watchers to have a close-up look at one.

2. Barn Owl

Farmers are the ideal habitat for barn owls. They were actually cared for by farmers for the purpose of pest control prior to our current fast urbanisation. This symbiotic relationship has grown since then. You will have the best chance of viewing farms in these locations, even if there aren’t quite as many as there once were. Attempt to visit the rural parts of Minnesota’s southern region.

3. Snowy Owl

It’s unfortunate that snowy owls are sometimes hard to spot in Minnesota because they’re such beautiful birds. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources states that snowy owls can be found in broad, open areas, particularly those with short grasses that resemble the tundra where they breed in the summer, from around early November to late March. Airports and farm fields are good places to search.

4. Eastern Screech Owl

Fortunately, one of the most prevalent species in Minnesota is the eastern screech owl. They like to live in wide fields, close to bodies of water, on farms, and in forests. They are occasionally even found in cities. Despite being a nocturnal bird, bird observers might be alerted to the presence of an owl by its distinctive call. With fewer food sources, winter is an excellent time to start searching for eastern screech owls, as they may hunt during the day instead of at night.

5. Barred Owl

In contrast to other parts of the country, Minnesota has a very stable barred owl population. Barred owls and great-horned owls share several physical characteristics. Their plumage is brownish-grey, and their bodies are robust and medium in size. But the eyes of a barred owl are black and deep, unlike the dazzling yellow eyes of a great horned owl. They like to reside in forests that are near lakes, rivers, or other small sources of water.

6. Burrowing Owl

Even though burrowing owls have been seen in Minnesota in the past, the species’ numbers have been progressively dropping for many years. It’s probably very difficult, but not impossible, to see one in this state. Despite this, during their breeding season, burrowing owls are diurnal, meaning that the daytime is when they are most active. With more opportunities to observe one in the wild due to enhanced visibility, this is a perfect time of year for bird watchers to try and locate one.

7. Northern Saw-Whet Owl

One of the smallest owl species is the little northern saw-whet owl. They weigh only about four ounces and are roughly eight inches tall. As a result, many other species, including the great horned owl, predate them. The northern saw-whet owl is a small bird yet it is widely dispersed in northern Minnesota. Swamps and forests are their favourite places to live.

8. Short-Eared Owl

There was a time when the short-eared owl was widespread in Minnesota. Unfortunately, the increasing loss of habitat is currently leading to a fall in their numbers. That being said, sightings of short-eared owls in Minnesota are still occasionally reported. Grasslands, usually near small bodies of water like lakes or marshes, are their preferred habitat. The northwest region of the state appears to be the owls’ preferred habitat. Aspen Parklands, Agassiz Lowlands, and Tamarack Lowlands are among the regions having the highest number of short-eared owls, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

9. Long-Eared Owl

Despite being a distinct species, many amateur bird observers may mistake long-eared owls for great horned owls. The ear tufts of long-eared owls are usually shorter, they have smaller numbers, and they are slimmer. While it is possible to see one, it is not as likely as their seem similar. In addition, they favour living in woods and have fewer varied habitats than other owl species. Due of food scarcity throughout the winter and during their breeding season, which occurs in March and April, sightings will be more frequent.

10. Boreal Owl

In Minnesota, there are few populations of boreal owls, and sightings are concentrated in the northern part of the state. They are smaller than other owl species, similar to the northern saw-whet owl, and as a result, they are predated more frequently. If you happen to spot a boreal owl, count yourself lucky because they are extremely rare to see.

11. Great Gray Owl

One of Minnesota’s most magnificent natural birds is the great grey owl. With a remarkable four-foot wingspan, this species is rarely preyed upon; nonetheless, immature great grey owls are susceptible. This species nests in forests close to lakes and bogs, preferring to remain in the northern regions of the state. They are not very common, thus it could be difficult to view one in person. Despite this, bird watchers have an edge in identifying this magnificent species because to its big size, unique call, and daytime hunting.

12. Northern Hawk Owl

Unquestionably, the northern hawk owl has a terrifying appearance, and for good cause. These animals make excellent hunters since they like to catch their prey during the day. The northern hawk owl will migrate southward to satisfy its nutritional demands during the winter, when food supplies are scarce. Even though they usually stay in the northernmost region of the state, this occasionally implies they will travel to Minnesota. These owls favour living close to sources of water in areas with little or no forest cover.