More than 200 different species of owls can be found worldwide, with the exception of Antarctica. Their sizes range greatly, the smallest being only a few inches in length. However, how large can owls get? Discover which owls are the biggest in the world based on their wingspan by reading on!
13. Long-Eared Owl
With a little over three feet of wingspan, the long-eared owl is the first owl on the list. The noticeable ear tufts that set long-eared owls apart from short-eared owls gave rise to their name. Brownish in appearance, long-eared owls have vivid orange eyes. They are widely distributed and usually live in farms and woodlands.
12. Tawny Owl
The wingspan of the tawny owl is significantly longer, reaching up to 41 inches. The body feathers of tawny owls, commonly referred to as brown owls, are a mixture of light and dark brown. They have darker streaks on their paler underside. Although they are found in many parts of Europe, tawny owls can also be found in Africa and Asia. Usually found in woodlands, they build their nests in tree holes.
11. Short-Eared Owl
With a wingspan of about 3.5 feet, the short-eared owl is marginally larger than its long-eared sibling. The underside of short-eared owls is pale in color and has a mottled brown look. Other than Antarctica and Australia, all continents are home to short-eared owls. Typically, they live on grasslands and moors. But as they are ground nesting birds, their nests are just hollows in the ground lined with grass and feathers.
10. Spotted Owl
With a wingspan of about four feet, the spotted owl is the second largest owl. The look of spotted owls is dark brown with white patches. On their underside, they also contain several cross-shaped patterns. Spotted owls inhabit hardwood and coniferous woods in Canada, the United States, and Mexico. They build their nests in tree cavities or in other species’ nests, including squirrels’.
9. Barred Owl
The barred owl, which resembles the spotted owl in appearance, is the next owl. The wingspan of a barred owl is between 38 and 45 inches. Its markings are dark with white bars. Native to eastern North America and southern Canada, barred owls have recently spread to the Pacific Northwest. Usually, they live in woods and woodlands. They are nocturnal avian predators who feed on a variety of reptiles, mammals, and other birds.
8. Barn Owl
The barn owl, with a wingspan of about three to four feet, is the next owl on the list. Their bodies are buff in hue, with white faces and undercarriages, giving them a ghostly look. Barn owls are found on every continent in the world with the exception of Antarctica. Despite their preference for broad grasslands and fields, they are usually found near barns and farms, as their name implies.
7. Powerful Owl
The term “powerful owl” suggests that this is a huge bird, with a wingspan of 44 to 53 inches. Strong owls have dark brown feathers with white bars on them. Their rather long tail further contributes to their hawk-like appearance. Australia is home to powerful owls, which are the largest owl species there. They feed on a wide range of creatures, including bats, possums, and sugar gliders, and they inhabit forests and mangroves.
6. Great Horned Owl
With a wingspan of up to 4.6 feet, the great horned owl occupies the next position. These owls have noticeable ear tufts, just like the long-eared owl. They have paler underparts but are generally speckled brown in color. The great horned owl is found in many different environments throughout North and South America. They frequently use other birds’ nests rather than creating their own, even though they nest on trees.
5. Snowy Owl
With a five-foot wingspan, the famous snowy owl is the second largest owl. Snowy owls have a characteristic white look which is often coated with black or brown patterns. These magnificent birds are usually found in the Arctic, though they can occasionally be seen further south. They favor wide spaces like the Arctic tundra or grasslands. Snowy owls may hunt at any time of day and are active throughout the day.
4. Great Grey Owl
The great grey owl, measuring 24 to 33 inches in length, is thought to be the longest owl in the world, and it may also reach a wingspan of up to five feet. Great grey owls have grey faces and are white with a grayish-brown colour. Additionally, they have a characteristic white marking on their neck that resembles a “bow tie,” according to many descriptions. In the northern hemisphere, coniferous forests are home to great grey owls.
3. Verreaux’s Eagle Owl
With a wingspan of up to 6.5 feet, the Verreaux’s eagle owl is the largest owl in Africa. The Verreaux’s eagle owl has brown and white patterns on a grayish background. Native to sub-Saharan Africa, Verreaux’s eagle owls are primarily found in savannahs. Rather than making their own nests, they usually lay their eggs in ones that other birds have already constructed. Verreaux’s eagle owls are opportunistic hunters that feed on almost anything they can catch. They are strong predators.
2. Eurasian Eagle Owl
Additionally, the Eurasian eagle owl can spread its wings up to 6.5 feet. The Eurasian eagle owl has prominent ear tufts, just like a few other owls on the list. They also have orange ears and a mottled brown look. The globe over, Eurasian eagle owls can be found in a variety of settings, including as mountains, grasslands, and forests. Usually, the males dig tiny depressions in the ground to build their nests. Being nocturnal owls, they consume a variety of birds and mammals.
1. Blakiston’s Fish Owl
With a wingspan of up to 6.6 feet, the Blakiston’s fish owl is the largest owl in the world. The owls have deeper markings and are tan to brown in color. They do not appear to be upright like most owls, but they do have ear tufts. Rather, their location is closer to the side of the head. Blakiston’s fish owls live in China, Japan, and Russia, where they inhabit old-growth woods and places close to wetlands. These owls mostly hunt fish, like salmon, trout, and pike, as their name implies. Their exceptionally extended talons facilitate the easier capture and holding of slick prey.