Looking and listening for owls in Northeast Ohio

September 9, 2019

Posted by Lake Erie Nature and Science Center

Some of the most fascinating wild animals in Ohio are owls. Their mysterious nature, charismatic expressions, and recognizable calls have sparked interest for centuries. Many people claim to have never seen an owl in the wild, but chances are they have been near one without knowing it.

Up to eight owl species reside in Northeast Ohio throughout the year. Three of the most common include Great Horned Owls, Barred Owls, and Eastern Screech-Owls.

Great Horned Owls can be found across the continental United States living in a broad range of habitats, most typically in woods interspersed with open land. This species is exceptionally strong. When clenched, a force of 28 lbs. is needed to open their talons. They may be difficult to see at night, but a deep series of hoots will indicate one is near.

Barred Owls are common to Northeast Ohio, but difficult to find as they are well camouflaged in large, mature oak and evergreen forests. Barred Owls claim their territory and tend to revisit the same location for months at a time. If they cannot be spotted, listen for their notorious hooting call that resembles the phrase: “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?” A popular pair of Barred Owls can be seen and heard outside of Lake Erie Nature & Science Center, through a nearby trail of Huntington Reservation.

The smallest of Ohio’s owls at just 12 ounces is the Eastern Screech-Owl, which remains in the state year-round. Their hearing is so well-developed that they can hear their prey move, making them successful hunters. Like most owl species, Eastern Screech-Owls are far more heard than seen. Listen for their loud trilling call from the trees in most types of woods, city parks, and even your own backyard.

Topic: Wildlife