9 Owls in Iowa(Species You Must See in This State)

Owls in Iowa are fascinating birds due to their diverse behaviours and habitats. These majestic creatures can be found throughout Iowa’s woodlands, prairies, wetlands, and even suburban areas.

Every owl species in Iowa plays an essential role within the ecosystem. They help keep rodent populations in check while consuming small mammals like rabbits and moles. Owls also provide natural pest control by eating insects such as beetles, grasshoppers, and crickets.

Iowa’s diverse landscape provides plenty of opportunities for wildlife enthusiasts to observe these fantastic animals up close.

Different Types of Owls in Iowa

Iowa is home to various owl species, providing natural beauty and soundscapes. Owls are one of the fascinating birds in Iowa, with their mysterious presence and captivating calls. There are nine species of owls found in Iowa:

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owls in Iowa

The Great Horned Owl is an iconic Owl species found in many parts of North America, including Iowa. This unique bird has a distinct look, with its large head, large yellow eyes, and two tufts on the top of its head, giving it a regal appearance. With the ability to hunt at night and catch prey such as rodents, rabbits, and even skunks, they are an essential part of Iowa’s wildlife population.

This majestic bird can be found in rural and urban Iowa areas. They prefer to live in woodlands or open fields with plenty of trees to nest in and roost during the day. The Great Horned Owl is often heard at night when it calls out its trademark hoot that pierces through the pitch-black darkness. During the breeding season, males will defend their territories by calling out loudly to attract females for mating.

They are also highly territorial and will not tolerate other birds or animals near their nest. This bird is an excellent hunter, with its sharp eyesight and impressive hearing capabilities allowing it to locate prey in the darkness of night. In Iowa, they mainly feed on small mammals such as voles, squirrels, rabbits, and mice. Guess what? This incredible owl can also be spotted in the beautiful state of Florida.


Scientific NameBubo virginianus
Length18.1-26 inches
Weight50 ounces
Wingspan55.2 inches

Northern Saw-Whet Owl

Northern Saw-Whet Owls in Iowa

The Northern Saw-Whet Owl, a small nocturnal bird of prey, is commonly found throughout much of North America. It has been known to make its home in Iowa for many years.

These tiny owls measure between seven and eight inches tall and are typically light brown with white spots on their upper body and wings. They have large yellow eyes, which help them to see clearly at night when hunting for food, such as mice, voles, insects, frogs, and even other small birds.

They prefer to live in dense forests near water sources such as streams or rivers, but they can also live in urban parks or residential neighbourhoods. During the winter months, they migrate southward, where they can find a suitable habitat that provides plenty of food options.


Scientific NameAegoliusacadicus
Length6.5-9 inches
Weight1.9-5.3 ounces
Wingspan16.5-22.2 inches

Eastern Screech-Owl

Eastern Screech-Owls in Iowa

The Eastern Screech-Owl is a small, nocturnal owl found in many parts of the United States. These owls are native to Iowa and can often be seen hunting for prey at night. Eastern Screech-Owls have become an iconic part of the state’s wildlife with their distinct coloring and call.

As with many species of wildlife in Iowa, humans have significantly impacted the population of Eastern Screech-Owls in Iowa. Over the years, the destruction of natural habitats has caused a significant decrease in the number of owls in Iowa. While some conservation efforts have been undertaken to try and increase their numbers, these birds are still considered threatened due to their declining populations.



Scientific NameMegascopsasio
Length6-10 inches
Weight5.6 ounces
Wingspan19-24 inches

Barn Owls in Iowa

Barn Owls in Iowa

Barn owls are a beloved species in Iowa, with their distinctive white and brown feathers, heart-shaped facial discs, and unique calls. Despite the Owl’s popularity, it can take a lot of work to spot one due to its nocturnal nature. In some state regions, they hunt for mice and other small animals at night and during the day.

Iowa is home to a large population of barn owls, which inhabit fields and meadows near farmlands. Their presence is beneficial for farmers since they help keep mouse populations under control naturally by preying on them. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources estimates that thousands live across the state, although exact numbers remain unknown due to their elusive nature.

Barn owls are protected under federal law in Iowa, and it is illegal to hunt or capture them without special permits from the government. Prepare to be mesmerized by the breathtaking sight of these magnificent Barn Owls in Arizona.


Scientific NameTyto Alba
Length12.6-15.8 inches
Weight14.1-24.7 ounces
Wingspan39.4-49.2 inches

Long-Eared Owl

Long-Eared Owls in Iowa

Long-eared owls (Asiootus) have recently been spotted in Iowa, much to the delight of bird watchers and nature enthusiasts alike. This species is known for its distinctive long ear tufts, not ears but feathers that act as camouflage and allow them to blend in with their environment. The long-eared Owl can be found throughout North America, Europe, and parts of Asia, though it is primarily a winter visitor in Iowa.

Sightings of these elusive nocturnal birds have become more frequent over the years due to milder winters and increased open grasslands where they can hunt for food. Long-eared owls spend most of their time roosting during the day, so they are rarely seen unless humans or other animals disturb them.


Scientific NameAsiootus
Length13.7-15.7 inches
Weight8.81 ounces
Wingspan35.4-40 inches

Short-Eared Owls in Iowa

Short-Eared Owls in Iowa

The Short-Eared Owl is a magnificent species of Owls in Iowa. This particular species of Owl is widely recognized for its unique characteristics and diverse habitat. The Short-Eared Owl, a medium-sized bird with a long wingspan, has been seen in grasslands and marshes throughout Iowa. It typically nests on the ground in open areas such as pastures or meadows.

The Short-Eared Owls’ diet consists mainly of small mammals like mice, voles, and shrews, but they have also been known to hunt insects and small birds. They have adapted to human presence in their habitat by nesting near roadsides or agricultural land where there are plenty of rodents for them to feed on. Since these owls are primarily nocturnal creatures, they are more likely to be seen at dawn or dusk when they become actively searching for food.


Scientific NameAsioflammeus
Length13-17 inches
Weight7.3-16.8 ounces
Wingspan33-43 inches

Also, know about Illinois Owls: 11 Species

Barred Owl

Barred Owl

The Barred Owl, a species of Owl native to Iowa, is essential to the state’s ecology and economy. This large bird is usually found in forested wetlands throughout Iowa, feeding on small mammals like mice and voles. The Barred Owl is known for its distinctive call, which consists of eight hoots in rapid succession. This owl is also found in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.

Since the mid-1900s, the population of Barred Owls in Iowa has been steadily increasing due to conservation efforts by state wildlife organizations. These organizations have worked hard to protect their habitats from destruction and degradation caused by human activity. As a result, this bird can be spotted more efficiently throughout the state during its breeding season. It is estimated that there are currently around 20,000 pairs of Barred Owls living in Iowa today.



Scientific NameStrixvaria
Length16-25 inches
Weight26 ounces
Wingspan38-49 inches

Snowy Owl

Snowy Owls in Iowa

The Snowy Owl, a majestic white bird native to the Arctic tundra, has been spotted in Iowa this winter. This large Owl can grow up to 27 inches tall and weigh up to 4 pounds. It is an impressive sight for those lucky enough to behold it.

This species of Owl usually spends its winters in the northern United States and Canada, but experts have noticed that more Snowy Owls are making their way south this year due to a shortage of food in their natural habitats. The birds have been seen flying around the Des Moines area and other parts of Iowa. Bird watchers report seeing them eating fish at Lake Manawa State Park and along the shores of Saylor Ville Reservoir as well.


Scientific NameBubo scandiacus
Length25-28.7 inches
Weight70.5 ounces
Wingspan48-60 inches

Burrowing Owl

Burrowing Owls in Iowa

The Burrowing Owl is an intriguing species of Owls in Iowa. This bird breeds in North America and can be seen year-round in the midwestern state. The Burrowing Owl is a small, long-legged bird that stands about eight inches tall with a wingspan measuring about twenty inches. It has a light brown body with white spots and yellow eyes that give it an alert and intense look.

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The Burrowing Owl creates burrows on open fields, prairies, farmland, and abandoned badger holes. These burrows are used for roosting, nesting, and laying eggs away from predators.

The diet of the Burrowing Owl consists mainly of small mammals such as voles, mice, rats, rabbits, snakes, lizards, frogs, and giant insects like grasshoppers and crickets.


Scientific NameAthenecunicularia
Length7.5-9.8 inches
Weight5.3 ounces
Wingspan21.6 inches


The presence of owls in Iowa is an excellent reminder of the importance of conservation and wildlife preservation. By protecting their natural habitats, we can ensure that these unique species continue to thrive for generations.

With education and awareness, we can all do our part to help protect animals like the Owl in Iowa. We should be mindful when exploring nature and take any necessary steps to avoid harming wildlife or their habitats. Furthermore, we can continue researching different conservation efforts that help protect local wildlife.


Where can I spot owls in Iowa?

Wooded regions, especially during early mornings and late evenings, are ideal for spotting these majestic creatures.

How can I identify different owl species?

Physical features, especially their calls, and size, are crucial identification markers.

What conservation efforts are in place for owls in Iowa?

Various organizations and community initiatives work towards the preservation and conservation of owls.