Some of the most beautiful prey birds in the world are owls, strong predators with piercing gazes and exquisite flights. Currently, there are about 250 species of owls worldwide, with 19 of them living in the United States. What about Maryland, though? Which owls are likely to be there? There are eight different species in the state, ranging from year-round residents to migratory species that are sporadically spotted. Discover the owls of Maryland and their potential locations by reading on!
1. Long-Eared Owl
The long-eared owl is the first owl on the list and the rarest in the state. Maryland was once home to long-eared owl nests, but these days the birds are only sporadically seen there when migrating. The unusual ear tufts on long-eared owls are what give them their name; they are noticeably longer than those on many other owl species. Their wingspan is approximately three feet, and they are usually pale brown with dark brown patterns. Typically, long-eared owls inhabit woodlands and other places with lots of shelter. Being nocturnal owls, they feed on a variety of tiny birds and mammals.
2. Snowy Owl
The stunning snowy owl, which only infrequently makes appearances in Maryland throughout the winter, is another uncommon owl. The Arctic tundra is home to snowy owls and serves as their breeding site. But in the winter, they frequently move south to warmer climates. Snowy owls can be seen in wide spaces like fields and grasslands, as well as along beaches, when they do come to Maryland. The striking white coloration of snowy owls sets them apart, but they also have several dark brown or black patterns. With a length of up to 27 inches and a wingspan of four to five feet, these owls are huge.
3. Northern Saw-Whet Owl
The next owl on the list is the somewhat uncommon northern saw-whet owl. Maryland is in the southernmost portion of the range of northern saw-whet owls, which means that they only infrequently live there. Usually found in coniferous forests, northern saw-whet owls build their nests in tree cavities that other birds, like woodpeckers, have hollowed out. With a wingspan of approximately 16 to 22 inches and a total body length of six to nine inches, these owls are little. The usual color of a northern saw-whet owl is brown with lighter markings.
4. Short-Eared Owl
The short-eared owl is another owl that normally visits the state only in the fall and winter when it is migrating. The ear tufts of short-eared owls are notably smaller than those of long-eared owls, as the name implies. Brown with barred patterns and paler underparts, short-eared owls look alike. Their body length does not exceed 17 inches, and their wingspan measures 33 to 43 inches. Numerous environments, such as fields, forests, and grasslands, are home to short-eared owls. But since rodents constitute a sizable component of their diet, they are frequently found in close proximity to locations with an abundance of rodents.
5. Barn Owl
The buff-colored barn owl is one of the most well-known owls in the world. Additionally, the face of a barn owl is formed like a heart, and its underparts are lighter in color. With a wingspan of three to four feet, they are huge birds. Grasslands, farms, and other rural locations with appropriate nesting areas, like barns or other historic buildings, are home to barn owls. Although they are common throughout Maryland, barn owl populations are thought to be dropping for a variety of reasons, including habitat loss.
6. Barred Owl
The barred owl, which is one of the most frequent owls in Maryland, is seen throughout the year. The usual habitat of barred owls is woodlands and forests near water sources. They sometimes build their nests in tree cavities that other animals have left behind. Large owls, barred owls can reach a maximum wingspan of 49 inches. Their feathers have recognizable bands and are brown and white in color.
7. Eastern Screech Owl
The eastern screech owl is a year-round resident of the state and is another common owl. Although they inhabit a range of environments, residential areas and woodlands are where they are most frequently found. They are mainly active at night and build their nests in tree cavities. With a diet mostly based on opportunism, eastern screech owls hunt a diverse range of birds, mammals, and reptiles. With a body length of up to ten inches and a wingspan of up to two feet, they are relatively small owls. Their bodies are grey or rust in hue, and they have characteristic ear tufts.
8. Great Horned Owl
The great horned owl, which spends the entire year in Maryland, is the last owl on the list. Many different types of environments, such as forests, grasslands, and prairies, are home to great horned owls. Again, they build their nests in trees, but they prefer to use pre-existing tree holes or abandoned nests rather of making their own. The great horned owl is a huge bird, reaching up to 4.6 feet in length on its wings. They are fierce hunters who consume a wide range of birds and mammals, most of which are captured at night. The ear tufts of great horned owls are easily recognizable, and their feathers are mottled brown with darker brown markings on a lighter underside.