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Short-eared owl perched on a refuge boundary sign during the winterNorth Dakota has nine different owl species, although only four of them commonly nest here.


Barn Owl The barn owl is easily identified by it's white heart-shaped face.  It's wingspan is about 3.5-4 feet.  They are considered rare in North Dakota.  They roost in large trees, barns, and buildings during the day and hunt for mice, rats, ground squirrels, and rabbits during the night.
Barred Owl The barred owl has a wingspan of about 4 feet and has a distinct barred pattern across it's breast and belly.  They are considered rare in North Dakota.  They are nocturnal and hunt for mice, chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, fox, crows, frogs, small snakes, and insects.

Eastern Screech Owl The eastern screech owl looks like a miniature great horned owl and has a wing span of 1.5-2 feet.  It lives in a wide variety of habitats and generally nests in tree cavities.  They are nocturnal and feed on mice, insects, pocket gophers, crayfish, snakes, frogs, fish, and small birds.

Great-Horned Owl Sometimes referred to as a "cat owl" or "hoot owl", it is a large owl with a wingspan that can reach 3-5 feet.  They nest in North Dakota and will reside in a wide variety of habitats.  Their diet consists of ground squirrels, rabbits, ducks, and voles.
Long-Eared Owl Also know as the "lesser horned owl", it has a wingspan of about 3-3.5 feet and has long ear tufts.  They are a rare sight in North Dakota and are very secretive.  They are nocturnal and feed mostly on mice, squirrels, and pocket gophers.    
Northern Saw-Whet Owl The northern saw-whet is a very small owl with a wingspan of about 1.5-2 feet.  Most are migratory, although some have been documented as nesting in North Dakota.  They are nocturnal and feed primarily on insects but will also eat mice, rats, small squirrels, and chipmunks.

Short-Eared Owl The wingspan of this owl is about 3.5 feet and it has small ear tufts that are difficult to see. You can find them in grasslands and marshes, where they nest on the ground.  They hunt during the day and prefer to eat rodents.
Snowy Owl   The snowy owl is the heaviest and most powerful of the North American owls, with a wingspan of 5 feet.  They nest on the ground and feed on gulls, waterfowl, rabbits, ground squirrels, rats, and grouse.  You may see them perched on hay bales, fence posts, and powerline poles.

Western Burrowing Owl This is a migratory owl that prefers to winter around Texas and Mexico.  They often live in burrows dug by prairie dogs, ground squirrels, or badgers. Their main diet consists of insects.


Lean more about owls from The Birds of North America Online 


Last Updated: Mar 08, 2013
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