A Look at the Different Types of Owls in Florida
Owl Inspiration in Florida
Do you want to learn about the different types of owls in Florida? The owls in Florida are not only majestic, they are beautiful. Have you seen an owl close to your home in the state of Florida?
Just recently my family and I discovered a family of owls living in the oak tree in our backyard. We had seen the father owl perched upon a ladder in our neighbor's backyard the weekend prior to when my husband noticed the whole family hanging out on a branch the following weekend. We both were immediately fascinated by these wise, majestic creatures and so I've been inspired to write a hub about the different types of owls in Florida.
Our Family of Florida Screech OwlsClick thumbnail to view full-size
The owls who've made their humble abode in our backyard tree are in fact Screech Owls. They are some of the tiniest owls in North America, and in my opinion, the cutest. They are small, gray owls (they can sometimes be brown or a reddish-brown color) with fluffy ear tufts that usually occupy nests perched upon tall branches.
What I found most endearing about this type of owl is that they are generally speaking monogamous animals. They find a mate and tend to stay with their mates for life, though sometimes the male owl will mate with a second female owl.
When it comes to the family of owls in our backyard, there was most definitely a father, a mother, and a baby owl. My daughter referred to them as "hoots", instead of "owls". A pretty cool fact about screech owls is that the male owls are known to each from 25% to 33% of their body weight in a single day! They tend to feed on smaller animals, such as rodents and even small birds such as songbirds, but the songbirds have been known to kick screech owls out of their own nests on occasion.
We haven't seen our family of screech owls lately, so I wonder if it was the squirrels (the screech owls' nemesis) or the songbirds who ran them out of their comfy nest in the oak tree.
Florida's Great Horned Owl
Great Horned Owl
Florida's largest type of owl is the Great Horned Owl, which can stand to a maximum height of two feet tall, with the females being larger than the males. Great Horned Owls are also known as Tiger Owls, due to their markings and their size. Their technical name is the Great Horned Owl due to their large tufts of feathers protruding from their ears that appear to be like horns. The "Great" part of their name, I would assume to be in reference to their immense size as compared to other owls in North America and the state of Florida.
Residence taken by the Great Horned Owls is almost always in trees, but range from the most dry desert climates (out west) to Florida's subtropic climate. These owls are adaptable and more-or-less ultimate survivors of the owl species. Their prey includes all small to small-medium sized animals, and in Florida includes armadillos, lizards, raccoons, rats, squirrels, mice, moles, bats, shrews, muskrats and weasels. Old Wives' tales even tell of the Great Horned Owl of the Southern states making off with domesticated cats and puppies!
Whatever their predatory and survival instincts in Florida or elsewhere in the Americas, the Great Horned Owl gives off the energy of the wisest and toughest owl this side of the Atlantic Ocean.
Florida's Barn Owl
What is it about the barn owl in Florida that makes me want to cry? Their sweet, sympathetic faces seem to talk to me in a way that no other bird has before. I feel like Florida's barred owls have the ability to look right through us...to see to the depths of our souls. However crazy that may sound, there is something truly magical about the Florida Barred Owl.
This type of owl is the most widespread and is also known as the Common Barn Owl. There are many other names and aliases, if you will, for the majestic Barn Owl. The Barn Owl's face looks much different from the Florida Screech Owl or even the Florida Great Horned Owl. Their face is predominantly white and seems innocent in a way. They have long wings and long legs and their faces are usually heart-shaped, which could add to the innate innocence that they give off to their human observers.
In Florida, Barn Owls hide out and nest in barns of course, but will find other places to dwell and breed if necessary.
The Owl in Mythology & Today
Owls have been a part of mythology and legends for centuries, if not for millennia. Many Wiccans and Pagans look to the owl as a totem animal, or spirit guide, if you will. And in my opinion, it's no wonder that they do, as owls seem to be sacred to the Great Spirit or God in a way that humans can't fully grasp. They are wise beyond their own species, with a seemingly secret knowledge of the ways of the earth and humanity that most animals and even most humans don't understand.
As for mythology, the owl goes back to ancient Greek times and is wrapped up in the worship of the Greek Goddess of Wisdom, Athene. The story goes that Athene banished the crow for purposeful reasons and came to discover and love the owl...and honor it for its beauty and wisdom. It was even noted that the owls inhabited the Acropolis to a great extent, and the Greeks did not touch them, they honored the wise owl in the name of the wise Athene.
There are many more stories of the owl in history, revered and honored by different cultures including the Native Americans. However, not all cultures looked at owls as a symbol of goodness or virtue. In England, the people looked at owls as an omen or a bringer of death or destruction...a sinister sign.
This type of battle, the battle as to whether owls are good symbols or evil symbols still lives on to this day. For me, I can say that owls are wise and spiritually connected animals, especially the owls of Florida.
Questions & Answers
Owls in my Florida trees are about 15 inches in height, grey-brown in color and have big black shadows around their eyes. Do you know what type of owl this is? They don't match common pictures and descriptions.
Most likely an Eastern Screech Owl. They are the smallest owls in Florida and are common.
© 2011 Nicole Canfield