Owls are nocturnal and solitary birds of prey with hooked bills and claws, front-facing eyes and flat faces. They live almost everywhere except for Antarctica and generally make their nests in cavities, such as hollow trees or crevices in cliffs. Most owls eat small mammals, birds, snakes and insects, and they usually hunt at night.
Barred owls are common in the United States and make their home in woodlands with sparse undergrowth, wooded river bottoms and wooded swamps. Like most owls, they prefer to live in cavities but might also live in a simple nest box with a large opening, attached to a tree. They rarely bring extra nesting material into a cavity or nest box. Barred owls grow to 20 to 24 inches and have a call that sounds like "Who cooks for you" repeated three or four times. They tend to hunt during the day.
The Great Horned Owl
Great horned owls like to take over abandoned nests of crows, great blue herons and hawks but, like other owls, sometimes make nests in cavities. This owl grows to 20 to 25 inches and prefers to live in forests, woodlots, deserts or residential areas.
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The Eastern Screech Owl
The eastern screech owl grows only to about 9 inches, and its call is a trilled sound. They prefer to take over former woodpecker nests in cavities, and they also like wooden nest boxes. Males and females roost together and are thought to mate for life. They prefer to live in shade trees in deciduous woodlands.
The Western Screech Owl
The western screech owl grows to about 8 1/2 inches. It is fairly common in the western half of the United States and prefers wooded canyons, farm groves, shade trees, residential areas and cactus woodlands.
The Burrowing Owl
The burrowing owl prefers open spaces, such as farms, grasslands and deserts, and nests in a hole or burrow in the ground. Usually, it reuses a hole made by a prairie dog, tortoise, armadillo or skunk, but sometimes it digs its own. Burrowing owls live in the western United States in summer and Central and South America year around. They grow to about 10 inches.
The Snowy Owl
The snowy owl lives in the North American Arctic tundra year around, but it finds its way farther south into the United States in winter to hunt, if prey is scarce. This white owl is the heaviest owl of North America and grows to 20 to 27 inches. It makes its home between the tree line and polar seas of northernmost Canada. It makes its nest on elevated ground.