Types of Owls
It has been widely accepted that 216 species of owls exist today, and of these 216 species, 18 belong to the Barn Owl family (Tytonidae) and 198 belong to the typical owl family (Strigidae).

#1. Barn Owl
The Barn owl (Tyto alba) is a medium-sized owl and is of 4 species with dark eyes.This owl has light gray on its upper body with reddish brown and puffs of white feathers. It has gray spotting on its wings and head. The underside is very white.  It has a very distinctly heart-shaped facial disc that is sharply outlined with reddish brown. Its beak is off-white and the feet are yellowish white with brown. Females often have more spots than males. This owl is nocturnal.

#2. Long-eared Owl

The Long-Eared Owl (Asio otus) is a medium sized owl with brown and yellowish brown plumage. It has spots, patches and bars of color over the majority of its body. It doesn’t have long ears, but rather long tufts of feathers called ear tufts that resemble ears. This owl is nocturnal and is active mostly at dusk.

#3. Barred Owl
The Barred owl (Strix varia) is one of 4 species with dark eyes and is also known as the Hoot owl.This owl is nocturnal.It is highly vocal, and often can be heard calling during the day and night.

#4. Northern Hawk Owl
The Northern Hawk Owl (Surnia ulula) is medium in size, with an off-white colored facial disc with black rim on the edges and white eyebrows. Diurnal=Refers to animals that are active during the day and sleep at night. Animals that are not diurnal might be nocturnal (active at night).They have what appear to be false eyes on the back of their heads and they have white to off-white spots on their dark grey backs.

#5. Burrowing Owl
The Burrowing owl (Speotyto cunicularia) is a small owl that is of the typical owl family. It has a round, light brown facial disc. This owl is active in the daylight, usually at dusk and dawn.They are ground-dwelling birds, so their nests are at risk of invasion from outside predators.

#6. Northern Saw-whet Owl
The Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus) is a small owl with a short tail and a very large head. The Saw-whet owl hunts at dusk and dawn and preys upon smaller mammals, including mice, shrews, voles, squirrels, bats, and sometimes birds, insects and frogs.

#7. Eurasian Eagle Owl
The Eurasian Eagle owl (Bubo bubo) is the heaviest owl in the world. Females of this species can reach greater than or equal to 9.25 pounds, which is twice the weight of an adult female snowy owl, the heaviest owl in North America.They hunt during dusk and dawn, where it preys upon voles and rates, beetles, deer fawns, rabbits, birds and mice. Occasionally other smaller owls may also be a part of their diet, as well as snakes and fish.

#8. Short-eared Owl
The Short-eared owl (Asio flammeus) is a medium-sized owl. It has brown feathers covering its body and dark lines on its chest, belly and back.This owl hunts at night and dusk and dawn.The colors of the plumage different .This color pattern is to blend in to its surroundings. When camouflaging itself does not work, it fakes death in order to avoid being eaten. It carries its prey back to the nest in its talons, whereas the majority of other owls either eats the food on the spot, or carries their prey back to the nest in their mouths.

#9. Elf Owl
The Elf Owl (Micrathene whitneyi) is a very small owl with a very round head and no ear tufts. It is a nocturnal bird with bat-like flight that predates upon small, weak prey like insects, grasshoppers, caterpillars, cicadas and scorpions.

#10. Snowy Owl

The Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) is a large owl with a rounded head that is of the typical owl family. They are opportunistic in their feeding and will also eat smaller mammals like mice, squirrels and prairie dogs.The Snowy Owl is a large, diurnal white Owl that has a rounded head, yellow eyes and black bill.

#11. Great Gray Owl
The Great Gray Owl (Strix nebulosa) is characteristic of having a puffy head, yellow eyes, and a circular facial discs. It is one of the largest owls in the world and has an extremely long tail.The face has a white mustache under the facial disc.

#12. Spectacled Owl
Spectacled owls (Pulsatrix perspicillata) are distinctly colored medium-sized owls with dark brown bodies and very white to yellow-ochre colored bellies.Their name comes from the white color surrounding their eyes that resembles eyeglasses, or “spectacles”. This owl is nocturnal and can be seen being active after dusk until dawn.

#13. Great Horned Owl
Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) at Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary. Delta, BC, Canada.
The Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) is a large owl that can be reddish brown, grey or black and white in color.The “horns” referred to in its name are only tufts of feathers, that are neither horns nor ears.This owl is known to become aggressive when threatened.The Great Horned owl usually begins hunting at dusk.

#15. Spotted Owl
The Spotted owl (Strix occidentalis) is one of 4 species of owls with dark eyes. The owl’s plumage is soft and fluffy and brown with heavy white spotting on the breast and belly. The wings, back and head have less spots than on the body. Their facial discs are light brown and have dark brown rings. They have lighter colored eyebrows and bills and feathered legs and talons.

#16. Western Screech Owl
The Western Screech owl (Megascops kennicottii) is a small owl with fluffy, gray or reddish brown plumage that often camouflages the owl when resting in a tree. This owl is nocturnal, and is seen feeding in the woodlands of western North America, specifically in the Pacific northwest and dry southwest.

Owls and Superstition.
Superstitions surrounding owls have a long and ancient history. These nocturnal creatures often appear in horror mystery films, have been associated with dark, haunting night themes, and grace our Halloween decor each fall. Their wide staring eyes give them a wise appearance, while the ability to turn their head around makes them fascinating and mysterious creatures. Tuffs of feathers on the top of an owl's head gives them the appearance of horned devils and their piercing cries add to the spook effect found in the ancient folklore of many countries.

In many cultures owls were symbols of magic. In England, it was believed that if you cooked an owl's eggs until they were ash, it could be used as a potion to improve eyesight. In India, if you ate an owl's eyes you would get the same result.

Witches were often linked to owls. One Greek & Roman superstition believed that witches could turn themselves into an owl and then they would swoop down and suck the blood of babies. Other superstitions related to witches and owls were: that the owls were messengers for sorcerers and witches, that they danced together on the graves of the dead and that if you hear the hoot of an owl, then a witch approaches.

In today's world, we have learned that most of these owl superstitions are just stories, born in a time when people were fearful and trying to find answers to their lives and environment. However, many of these legends survived over time. Here are some other interesting and somewhat strange superstitions that are linked to owls.

    * An owl hooting or screeching at night could result in the death of a newborn baby, will cause the child to have an unhappy life, or possibly that the baby would become a witch. If the owl was heard screeching during cold weather it signaled that a storm was coming.
    * Owls apparently are the only creatures that can live with ghosts, so if an owl is found nesting in an abandoned house, the place must be haunted.
    * Death is often associated with owls such as if: an owl perches on the roof of your house or hearing an owl hooting constantly nearby.
    * If a traveler dreamed of an owl, then that meant he would be robbed or possibly shipwrecked.
    * A silly owl superstition is that if you see an owl perched in a tree and you walk around and around that tree, the owl will follow you with it's eyes, turning his head around until he wrings his own neck. (The reality is that an owl cannot turn his head completely around).
    * Not all superstitions were bad. Owls were also believed to bring good fortune in some cultures. An Afghanistan legend states that it was the owl that presented humans with flint and iron so they could make fire. In exchange, man gave owls their feathers.
    * The Aborigines of Australia believe that owls are the spirits of women and are therefore sacred, while in Brittany is was a good sign to see an owl on the way to the harvest as it meant that it would be a good yield that year.
    * The owl is a symbol of guidance and help by the Inuits of Greenland, while the people of Indonesia saw them as wise beings using the owl's different calls to determine whether to travel or not.

There are many, many more legends concerning the owl. The reality is that owls are very helpful to us as they are excellent at pest control, especially Barred Owls. They control the population of mice, voles, moles, rats, skunks, snakes, insects and slugs to name a few.It's the perfect "night watchman".

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