Essay

15 Owls that Live in Washington State (and Where You’re Likely to See Them)

Only fifteen of the approximately 220 extant owl species may be found in the state of Washington. Discover which owls may be found in the Evergreen State, as well as where and when to see them, by reading on.

1. Barn Owl (Tyto alba)

These owls are widespread throughout the United States, and in Washington, they spend the most of the year there. Although they may adapt to a wide range of different habitats, they are most abundant in agricultural grounds and other open places.

2. Barred Owl (Strix varia)

Although they are uncommon in the Columbian Plateau, these owls can be seen all year round in tiny areas of the state. They like woodland places close to bodies of water.

3. Boreal Owl (Aegolius funereus)

In the eastern portion of the state, these owls are unusual year-round inhabitants. They like deep woodlands better.

4. Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia)

During the nesting season, the owls in question are a migratory species that are mainly located in the southeast area of the state, specifically the Columbia Plateau. They favor open environments with subterranean burrows. They are currently recognized under Washington’s State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) due to their dwindling numbers.

5. Flammulated Owl (Psiloscops flammeolus)

During the breeding season, these owls are a migratory species that are rarely seen in the eastern part of the state (but sometimes in the Columbian Plateau). Mature montane conifer forests are home to them. They are currently recognized under Washington’s State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) due to their dwindling numbers.

6. Great Gray Owl (Strix nebulosa)

The northern region of the state is home to these owls infrequently; they are mostly found in eastern Okanogan and western Ferry Counties. Their favored woodlands are mature conifers. They are currently recognized under Washington’s State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) due to their dwindling numbers.

7. Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)

These owls are among the most widespread in Washington and throughout North America. They live all year round and can be found in many different types of environments throughout the state.

8. Long-Eared Owl (Asio otus)

These owls are uncommon year-round residents in the eastern part of the state, and they may also be infrequently seen in the western part during the winter. Their preferred habitats are forested with access to open spaces.

9. Northern Hawk Owl (Surnia ulula)

Although they often live further north, these owls occasionally travel throughout the state during the winter.

10. Northern Pygmy-Owl (Glaucidium gnoma)

Although they live throughout the year in most of the state, these owls are rarest in the Columbian Plateau and most abundant in the East Cascades. They favor regions with trees and water.

11. Northern Saw-Whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus)

In much of the state, these owls are year-round residents, though they are uncommon in the Columbia Plateau. They like deep woods close to bodies of water.

12. Short-Eared Owl (Asio flammeus)

Although they are rare year-round residents of the state, these owls have vanished from a large portion of their historic habitat in the western region. They like wide-open spaces. They are currently recognized under Washington’s State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) due to their dwindling numbers.

13. Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus)

Although these owls breed in the Arctic tundra, they occasionally make an erratic winter migration to Washington state.

14. Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis)

In the western part of the state, these owls are uncommon year-round inhabitants. Spotted owl numbers have drastically decreased due to the loss and fragmentation of their preferred old-growth coniferous forests caused by logging. The northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina), a subspecies found in the state, is currently classified as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) under Washington’s State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) due to their diminishing population. The federal government has classified it as Threatened as well.

15. Western Screech Owl (Megascops kennicottii)

In much of the state, these owls are year-round residents, though they are uncommon in the Columbia Plateau. Although they are found in many different settings with at least some trees for nesting, they are most commonly found in forests. They are currently recognized under Washington’s State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) due to their dwindling numbers.