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Owls In Georgia: Top 7 Hot, Hooting Species In Georgie State

Last Updated on: July 8, 2024

No one can deny the fact that owls are mysteriously fascinating. Unfortunately, these formidable predators are rarely spotted. Sighting an owl may sometime require some special birding skills. 


Before you emerge on an owling trip in any state, you may as well research the species of owls you are likely to spot. 

So, what Owls are in Georgia? I bet you are dying to know. 

Georgia’s humid subtropical climate is suitable for some owl species. This article will help you discover the common Georgia owls, their natural habitat, and physical attributes. 

Let’s dive deep. 

7 Types Of Owls In Georgia

Various owl species thrive in different habitats. And since Georgia state offers several suitable homes for owls, you’d spot sundry owl activities in the state. Here’s a list of the common owls you will sight in Georgia. 

1. Eastern Screech Owl

Eastern Screech Owl
Eastern Screech Owl

Eastern Screech Owl is a rare owl species to spot. Despite being an all-year resident of Georgia, screech owl camouflages excellently. Luckily, it has a red-brown and grey plumage that blends well with trees. 

Another defining characteristic is the short, stocky build. 

Unlike other Georgia owls, Screech Owl has a theatrical mating display that most avid bird watchers will find spellbinding. The male approaches females from different angles or trees, bobbling and swiveling until the female accepts him. 

A Screech Owl has fake ear tufts on the sides of its head. These tufts are used for communication and to break up their silhouette. 

Eastern Screech Owl is comfortable around populated areas, mainly wooded regions in Georgia. They nest on street lamps, inside spaces of a building, or along highways. The owl also inhabits excavations and cavities made by woodpeckers. However, It stays clear of big owls like the Great Horned Owl.

You can recognize this Owl by its pitched call called the tremolo, and its diet includes skunks, rats, squirrels, and rabbits. 

2. Barn Owl

Barn Owl
Barn Owl

Barn Owl earned its name by nesting in barns and other manmade structures. This is one of the easiest owl species to identify; its heart-shaped face is sandy-colored with a deep brown edge. It has dark eyes that are a sharp contrast to the pale face color. 

This bird’s unique face shape enhances its hunting skills by steering sounds to its ears. Their hearing sense is acute, helping them discover a small animal hidden in the snow or dense bush by listening intently. Bats are one of their prey!

They are one of the most proficient auditory hunters.

The Barn Owl’s mottled grey and white color are easily identifiable in the daytime. While they soar in the sky at night, camouflaging in the dark to hunt a small mammal. 

You can find this bird of prey in South and North Georgia agricultural landscapes. Hence, it mostly has no shortage of barns or habitats. This bird also enjoys living in marshy areas. Target dusk or dawn is the best time to spot a Barn Owl. 

However, there are about 40 Barn Owl Species. The various species are particular to specific regions. But the American Barn Owl is the biggest. 

Besides being a beautiful sight to bird watchers, this owl helps farmers keep their farm’s small rodents free. Its sound is a loud pitched screech that reminds me of a Red-Tailed Hawk. 

3. Barred Owl

Barred Owl

This is one of the native Georgia owls. One look at a Barred Owl, and you can tell why it’s called the Barred Owl. Its color is a smooth mix of horizontal lines of light and dark brown. This reasonably large Owl sets up its habitat in deciduous and evergreen forests. Native to GA, this bird of prey enjoys coastal plains and ranks on the table of predators, having only the Great Barred Owl as a threat. 

This Owl is quite curious. So, don’t get nervous when you notice its bright eyes trained on you while you walk past. Sometimes, it flies to nearby trees if you move too close for comfort. 

Barred Owl has a long list of animals on their prey list. It’s right to claim they eat anything meat or insect. They eat small rodents, squirrels, birds,  opossums, bats, turtles, weasels, frogs, fish, etc. This owl in Georgia sounds like it’s asking, “who cooks for you.” Their hoots are popular soundtracks used in movies. 

Barred Owl mates from spring to the end of summer. You are more likely to hear or spot them during this period. 

4. Short-Eared Owl

Short-Eared Owl

The nonbreeding population of Short-Eared Owl resides in Georgia. Nevertheless, it’s a common bird to spot in other states across North America. This mottled brown Owl parades fields in GA around dusk or dawn, making it an easy sighting during that time. Don’t forget to look for them in meadows, grassland, or airports. 

Unlike most Owls, it’s diurnal! So, you can sight Short-Eared Owl hunting its prey in broad daylight. 

They also fly over plains in irregular patterns chasing small mammals or other prey. Short-Eared Owl builds its nests on the ground in open suburban areas or fields. They flee their nest whenever a predator attacks. However, they never leave their eggs unprotected.

This owl poops on the eggs to keep predators away from them.

Since it’s migratory, your best chance of sighting this Owl is in cold months. The Short Eared Owl makes minor noise. But it has a unique call that sounds like a cat searching for a mate. 

5. Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl

The Great Horned Owl is a native of Georgia and North America. Its adaptive characteristic makes it easy to adjust to almost any habitat. So long as a state provides trees and roky nesting sites, the Great Horned Owl is there to stay. 

It’s one of the most adaptive owls in Georgia!

It has long tufts of feathers on its head close to its eyes, making identification a cinch. Moreover, it has a fierce look and an intimidating size. If you ever consider having a stare-down with this predator, you’d probably regret it! This owl’s daunting eyes complete its daring appearance. 

Of all the owls in Georgia sounds, the bird’s hoot is the most domineering, especially when it makes a territorial call. But generally, the male’s call is often more low pitched than a female’s. 

This bird attempts to maintain its large body by hunting large animals. Its prey includes groundhogs, geese, mice, rats, several raptors, and different bird species. Unfortunately, its mediocre sense of smell is responsible for occasional skunk hunting. 

Perching on manmade structures, they establish dominance by surveying their territory for prey. 

Great Horned Owls have no issue making an appearance in daylight. But records of this owl sighting hint that you are more likely to spot it in twilight hours. 

6. Northern Saw-Whet Owl

Northern Saw-Whet Owl
Northern Saw-Whet Owl

Northern Saw-Whet is easy on the eyes. It has brown and white feathers that would catch anyone’s eye. You’d want more than a second look. The bird blends well with trees in North Georgia. Its round head has no prominent ear tufts; the absence of ear tufts makes it appear smaller and less fierce. 

Northern Saw-Whet hangs out in local trees, waiting for the perfect hunting time. Therefore, a forest with many local trees can be a suitable place to sight this beautiful Owl. It has a signature repetitive shrill that pierces through the silent night. It also feels at home in wooded areas.

This Owl is commonly found during the winter season in Georgia.

Due to its cute size and color, it may be difficult to sight in trees. You can only find the nonbreeding population in GA. So, don’t forget to take pictures when you spot a Northern Saw-Whet! It feeds on mice, small squirrels, songbirds, and giant insects. 

7. Burrowing Owl

Burrowing Owl

Burrowing Owls are one of the most adorable owls in Georgia. However, it acts differently in comparison to most owls. Without a ready-made hole by other animals like the desert tortoise, it relies on nesting in burrows on the ground. 

It’s diurnal and hunts in broad daylight. From North Georgia to South Georgia, Burrowing Owl resides all over GA. It also saunters around large open areas, prairies, and sparse plantations. Identification isn’t difficult with this owl. 

The mottled brown feathers, white and sandy tan tails, and back are peculiar.

In addition, it has yellow eyes and grey or a yellow bill that is equally distinctive. The burrowing owl hops around, surveying its surroundings for insects, small mammals, or small reptiles to eat. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do owls live in Georgia?

GA is home to several species of owls. However, only the Great Horned Owl, Barn Owl, Eastern Screech Owl, and Barred Owl are natives of Georgia. Other species merely visit during specific seasons. 

But you will certainly see one or more owl species around you in Georgia. 

Is it legal to keep owls as pets in Georgia?

It’s illegal to keep most exotic and wild animals as pets in Georgia State. Owls are one of the animals listed as a prohibited species by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. In addition, owls are on the list of species that are not normally domesticated in Georgia because they could threaten state agriculture if they escape your confinement. 

You can be fined or incarcerated for flaunting this rule.

What is the biggest owl in Georgia?

No other bird contends with the Great Horned Owl in terms of size in North America. This Owl is about 24 inches tall and has a wide wingspan that’s 5 feet long. This ferocious predator dominates the food chain as far as North America is concerned. 


Georgia is one of the states you can trust to provide scenic views and enthralling owl species to observe. If you reside in Atlanta, you probably have some owls in your neighborhood. However, knowing where to look is instrumental to spotting these birds of prey.

With the help of this article, you can discover and identify the various species in Georgia. I can tell your next owling adventure would be explosive!

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