If you’re an owl enthusiast, Michigan is the place for you! With a variety of different owl species calling Michigan home, there’s always something new to see.
In this blog post, we’ll introduce you to 10 of the most common Michigan owls. From the tiny saw-whet owl to the impressive great horned owl, these birds are sure to capture your attention.
So read on and learn about some of Michigan’s most fascinating nocturnal predators!
By the way, if you click on a link and then make a purchase, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.
Why is Michigan a Good Environment for Owls?
You may be wondering why Michigan is a good environment for owls. Well, there are a few reasons. For one, Michigan has a lot of open space, which is perfect for owls. Owls need plenty of room to hunt and fly, and the vast forests and fields of Michigan provide plenty of space for them to live and thrive.
The Upper Peninsula is densely forested and has a large number of wetlands, both of which are ideal habitats for owls. In addition, Michigan has a lot of open space in the Lower Peninsula, which is perfect for hunting.
Additionally, Michigan has a diverse climate, with both warm summers and cold winters. This variety allows owls to find the food they need year-round, and it also helps to keep them healthy and strong.
Finally, Michigan is home to a variety of owl species, giving owl lovers plenty of opportunity to see these amazing creatures in their natural habitats.
Owls in Michigan: 10 Species
Here is the short list of the 10 species of owls that inhabit Michigan. We’ll provide all the details below!
- Barn Owl
- Barred Owl
- Eastern Screech Owl
- Great Gray Owl
- Great Horned Owl
- Long-eared Owl
- Northern Hawk Owl
- Northern Saw-whet Owl
- Short-eared Owl
- Snowy Owl
The Barn Owl is a medium-sized owl found throughout Michigan. They have long wings and short tails, and are mostly pale brown in color with streaks of white and black. They are typically about 18 inches tall and have a wingspan of about 40 inches. It is easily recognizable by its long, slender body and heart-shaped face.
Barn Owls are monogamous, and the male and female typically stay together year-round. They build their nests in dark, quiet places such as barns, hollow trees, or abandoned buildings. Barn Owls eat mostly rodents, but will also eat rabbits, amphibians, and insects.
They hunt at night by flying slowly over open spaces and listening for the rustling of prey. Their call is a high-pitched “tu-whit”, which can be heard up to a mile away.
Barn Owls are beneficial to farmers because they help to control the rodent population. They are also interesting to watch and are considered a prized sighting by many birders.
Listen to the Barn Owl:
The Barred Owl is a common sight in Michigan. This owl is easily identified by its barred feathers, which give it its name. They are about 18 inches tall and have a wingspan of about 40 inches.
The Barred Owl is a predator, and its diet consists mostly of small mammals, such as mice, rats, and rabbits. This owl also eats birds, amphibians, and insects.
Barred Owls mate in the winter, and the female typically lays two to four eggs. These owls do not migrate, but they may move to different parts of the state depending on the season.
They are typically found in wooded areas, but can also be seen in open areas near water.
Their call is a series of hoots that sounds like “who-cooks-for-you? Who-cooks-for-you-all?”
Listen to the Barred Owl:
Eastern Screech Owl
The Eastern Screech Owl is a small owl found throughout Michigan. This owl has brown and white markings on its body, and its eyes are yellow. It is about ten inches long, and it has a wingspan of about two feet.
The Eastern Screech Owl is mostly nocturnal, meaning it hunts at night. It feeds on small animals, such as rodents, insects, and fish.
This owl mates in the winter, and the female lays two to four eggs in a nest made of sticks. The eggs hatch in about 26 days. After hatching, the young owlets stay in the nest for about six weeks before venturing out on their own.
The Eastern Screech Owl does not migrate, but it may move to different parts of the state depending on the season. You’ll often hear their even-pitched trill, also called a “bounce song”.
One unique detail about the Eastern Screech Owl is that it is one of the owls that can rotate its head 270 degrees.
Listen to the Eastern Screech Owl:
Great Gray Owl
The Great Gray Owl is a large owl species found in Michigan. It has a wingspan of up to 4 feet, and its body is mostly gray in color. The owl’s head is large and round, and it has prominent yellow eyes.
Great Gray Owls are monogamous, and both the male and female help to care for the young.
These owls do not migrate, but they may move to different parts of the state depending on the season. They are typically found in forested areas near open spaces, and they prey on small mammals such as mice and rabbits.
The call of a Great Gray Owl is deep and hooting, and it can be heard over long distances.
One unique thing about the Great Gray Owl is that they are one of the few owl species that may hunt during the daytime.
Listen to the Great Gray Owl:
Great Horned Owl
The Great Horned Owl is a common sight in Michigan. This large owl can be identified by its distinctive “horns,” as well as its brown and white coloring. The Great Horned Owl is a powerful predator, and it typically feeds on small mammals such as rabbits, rats, and snakes. In addition to hunting on the ground, this owl also hunts from perches in trees.
Great Horned Owls are monogamous, and they form long-term pairs. The female builds the nest, which is typically located in a tree cavity or a nest box. After mating, the female lays 2-4 eggs, which she incubates for about 28 days. Once the eggs hatch, both parents help to feed the young owls.
Great Horned Owls do not usually migrate, but they may move southward during winter if food is scarce. These owls can be found in all corners of the state, from the dense forests of the Upper Peninsula to the open prairies of lower Michigan. They are also common in urban areas.
The call of the Great Horned Owl is often described as “huh-huh-huh.” This call is used to communicate with other owls, as well as with predators and prey.
One unique trait of the Great Gray Owl is that it sometimes stores uneaten prey in the winter months, thawing it out at a later time by ‘incubating’ it.
Listen to the Great Horned Owl:
The Long-eared Owl is a medium-sized owl found in Michigan. They have long, slender ears which are useful for detecting prey in complete darkness. They have brownish-gray feathers and are around 14 inches in length. The males and females look very similar, but the males are usually a little bit bigger.
They breed in the early spring, usually starting around March or April. The males perform a song and dance ritual to attract a female, and after mating the female will lay 4-6 eggs. Both parents will help to incubate the eggs and feed the chicks once they hatch.
Long-eared owls do not migrate but instead move around depending on the availability of food. They can be found in forests, open fields, orchards, and even in suburban areas.
They mainly eat small mammals such as mice, rats, and rabbits, but they will also eat birds, insects, and reptiles.
Their call sounds like an even hoot, repeated every few seconds.
One unique thing about the Long-eared owl is that they can catch mice in complete darkness.
Listen to the Long-eared Owl:
Northern Hawk Owl
The Northern Hawk Owl is a medium-sized owl with reddish-brown plumage and white spots. It has a large head, a long tail, and pointed wings. The upper parts are gray with white streaks, and the underparts are white with gray bars.
The Northern Hawk Owl is found throughout northern North America, including parts of Michigan. It typically nests in forests, but can also be found in open areas such as grasslands and tundra.
The Northern Hawk Owl is mostly active during the daytime, hunting for small mammals such as voles, lemmings, and mice. It typically mates for life and does not migrate.
The Northern Hawk Owl’s alarm call is a series of high-pitched screams, although their ordinary call sounds like a whistling ki-ki-ki-ki-ki.
One interesting fact about the Northern Hawk Owl is that it sometimes eats small fish.
Listen to the Northern Hawk Owl:
Northern Saw-whet Owl
The Northern Saw-whet Owl is one of the more common owl species found in Michigan. It’s a small owl, with a body length of about 7-8 inches and a wingspan of 16-18 inches. The Saw-whet Owl gets its name from its call, which sounds like a saw being sharpened on a whetstone.
These owls are mainly nocturnal, but they can also be seen hunting during the day. They mate for life and lay 3-7 eggs per clutch. The female incubates the eggs for about 28 days, while the male brings her food. The young owls fledge at around 30 days old.
These owls are found throughout Michigan, but they are most common in the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula. They prefer dense forests with lots of trees and understory cover.
During the winter, some Northern Saw-whet Owls migrate south, but others stay put in Michigan.
Even though they’re small, these owls are fierce predators. Their diet consists mainly of mice and voles, but they will also eat shrews, bats, and sometimes small birds.
One unique detail about the Northern Saw-whet Owl is that it has ReverseSexualDimorphism, which means that the females are typically larger than the males.
Listen to the Northern Saw-whet Owl:
As its name suggests, the Short-eared Owl is known for its relatively short ears, which are set close together on its head. This medium-sized owl has a brown or buff body with mottled markings, and its wingspan can reach up to nearly four feet.
Short-eared Owls are found in open habitats such as fields or marshes, and they can often be seen hunting during the day. These owls primarily eat small mammals such as voles or mice, which they capture with their sharp talons.
In Michigan, Short-eared Owls can be found throughout the Lower Peninsula, although they are more common in the northern and western parts of the state. If you’re lucky enough to spot one of these beautiful birds, you’ll likely hear it before you see it.
The Short-eared Owl has a distinctive call that has been described as a “mournful hooting.” With its striking appearance and haunting call, the Short-eared Owl is a truly unforgettable bird.
The short-eared owl is listed as a state-endangered species in Michigan.
Listen to the Short-eared Owl:
The Snowy Owl is one of the many owls that can be found in Michigan. It’s a large owl, with males averaging around 24 inches in length and females around 27 inches. They have characteristic white plumage, which helps them blend in with their snowy surroundings, and yellow eyes.
Snowy Owls are monogamous, and pairs will typically mate for life. They often nest on the ground, rather than in trees, and will use scrapes in the ground or existing depressions. The female will lay between 2 and 11 eggs, which hatch after about a month. The young are called owlets.
Snowy Owls are found throughout Michigan but are more common in the northern parts of the state. They can also be found in other parts of North America, as well as Europe and Asia. They are nomadic birds, and their movements are largely determined by the availability of prey.
Snowy Owls hunt during the day and night, and their diet consists mostly of small mammals such as lemmings, mice, and voles. They will also eat birds, reptiles, and insects.
The call of the Snowy Owl sounds similar to a raspy bark.
One unique detail about Snowy Owls is that they are the largest owl in Michigan, and are primarily active during the daytime hours.
Listen to the Snowy Owl:
How to Make Your Property More Attractive to Owls
Michigan is home to a variety of different owl species, including the great horned owl, the northern saw-whet owl, and the long-eared owl. While these striking birds are often seen as pests by property owners, they can actually provide a number of benefits, including pest control and soil aeration.
In addition, owls are a key part of the ecosystem and play an important role in the food chain. As a result, it’s important to make sure that Michigan’s owl population is healthy and thriving.
So, how can property owners make their land more attractive to owls? One way is to leave some areas of their property undeveloped. This provides owls with places to nest and hunt and also helps to protect them from predators. Property owners can also install artificial nesting boxes or perches, which can provide owls with a safe place to roost.
By taking these simple steps, property owners can help to ensure that Michigan’s owls have a bright future.