A List of the Different Types of Owls

Owls are a type of bird that is bird of much interest and has been for some time. They are often associated with wisdom which dates back to ancient Greece where the Goddess of Wisdom, Athena, was often depicted or symbolized as an owl. Owls are often considered to be a bad omen as well, which may be a result of their solitary nocturnal nature. Their most disctint feature is their head and face shape. They have a flat face with forward facing eyes combined with a hawk-like beak. They also usually have some sort of prominent disc of feathers surrounding each eye. Most owls can turn their heads to a significant degree, as much as °180, giving them a full view of their surroundings without the need to turn their body. There are two living Families of owl: Tytonidae – or Barn-owls, and Strigidae also called “Typical” or “True” owls.

The Family of Tytonidae – The Barn-owls

This is the smaller of the two families of owl as far as number of species is concerned. They are, however, on the larger side of the scale when it comes to size.

They have disctint heart-shaped faces which makes them fairly easy to identify even for amateur bird watchers. Below are the owls in this family:

Tyto Owls or Tytoninae

  • African Grass Owl (Tyto capensis)
  • Andaman Masked Owl (Tyto deroepstorffi)
  • Ashy-faced Owl (Tyto glaucops)
  • Australian Masked Owl (Tyto novaehollandiae)
  • Buru Masked Owl (Tyto cayelii)
  • Common Barn Owl (Tyto alba)
  • Eastern Grass Owl (Tyto longimembris)
  • Golden Masked Owl (Tyto aurantia)
  • Lesser Sooty Owl (Tyto multipunctata)
  • Manus Masked Owl (Tyto manusi)
  • Minahassa Masked Owl (Tyto inexspectata)
  • Moluccan Masked Owl (Tyto sororcula)
  • Red Owl (Tyto soumagnei)
  • Seram Masked Owl (Tyto almae)
  • Sooty Owl (Tyto tenebricosa)
  • Sulawesi Owl or Sulawesi Masked-owl (Tyto rosenbergii)
  • Taliabu Masked Owl (Tyto nigrobrunnea)

Bay Owls or Phodilinae

  • Oriental Bay Owl (Phodilus badius)
  • Sri Lanka Bay Owl (Phodilus assimilis)
  • Congo Bay Owl (Phodilus prigoginei)

The Family of Strigidae – The Typical or True Owls

While the Barn-owls tend to be medium to large in size, the True Owls run the full gamut of sizes.

This family includes the smallest owl (the Elf Owl) as well as the largest (the Great Horned Owl, Eurasian Fish-Owl or Blakiston’s Fish Owl – different species of similar size).

Many of the owls in this family have ear tufts of feathers which is one of this families more distinct features at least for those that have this feature obviously. If there are no species listed below the heading, it means the genus is monotypic.

Screech-Owls or Megascops

  • Bare-shanked Screech Owl (Megascops clarkii)
  • Bearded Screech Owl (Megascops barbarus)
  • Balsas Screech Owl (Megascops seductus)
  • Black-capped Screech Owl (Megascops atricapilla)

Scops-Owls or Otus

  • Giant Scops Owl (Otus gurneyi)
  • White-fronted Scops Owl (Otus sagittatus)
  • Andaman Scops Owl (Otus balli)
  • Reddish Scops Owl (Otus rufescens)
  • Sandy Scops Owl (Otus icterorhynchus)

Palau Owls or Pyrroglaux

  • Palau Owl (Pyrroglaux podarginus)

Bare-Legged, Cuban Screen Owl or Gymnoglaux

  • Bare-Legged or Cuban Screen Owl (Gymnoglaux lawrencii)

White-Face Owls or Ptilopsis

  • Northern White-faced Owl (Ptilopsis leucotis)
  • Southern White-faced Owl (Ptilopsis granti)

Giant Scops-owl, Mindnao Eagle-owl or Mimizuku

Horned Owls, Eagle-Owls, Fish-Owls or Bubo

  • Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus)
  • Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)
  • Lesser Horned Owl (Bubo magellanicus)
  • Eurasian Eagle-Owl (Bubo bubo)
  • Blakiston’s Fish Owl (Ketupa blakistoni or Bubo blakistoni)

Earless Owls or Strix

  • Spotted Wood Owl (Strix seloputo)
  • Mottled Wood Owl (Strix ocellata)
  • Brown Wood Owl (Strix leptogrammica)
  • Tawny Owl (Strix aluco)
  • Himalayan Owl (Strix nivicolum)
  • Hume’s Owl (Strix butleri)
  • Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis)


  • Mottled Owl (Ciccaba virgata)
  • Black-and-white Owl (Ciccaba nigrolineata)
  • Black-banded Owl (Ciccaba huhula)
  • Rufous-banded Owl (Ciccaba albitarsis)

Crested Owl or Lophostrix

Maned Owl or Jubula

Spectacled Owls or Polsatrix

  • Spectacled Owl (Pulsatrix perspicillata)
  • Tawny-browed Owl (Pulsatrix koeniswaldiana)
  • Band-bellied Owl (Pulsatrix melanota)

Northern Hawk-Owl or Surnia

Pygmy Owls or Glaucidium

  • Eurasian Pygmy Owl (Glaucidium passerinum)
  • Collared Owlet (Glaucidium brodiei)
  • Pearl-spotted Owlet (Glaucidium perlatum)
  • Northern Pygmy Owl (Glaucidium californicum)

Long-Whiskered Owlet or Xenoglaux

Elf Owl or Micrathene


  • Spotted Owlet (Athene brama)
  • Little Owl (Athene noctua)
  • Forest Owlet (Athene blewitti)
  • Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia)

Saw-Whet Owls or Aegolius

  • Boreal Owl or Tengmalm’s Owl (Aegolius funereus)
  • Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus)
  • Unspotted Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius ridgwayi)
  • Buff-fronted Owl (Aegolius harrisii)

Australian Hawk-Owls or Ninox

  • Rufous Owl (Ninox rufa)
  • Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua)
  • Barking Owl (Ninox connivens)
  • Sumba Boobook (Ninox rudolfi)
  • Little Sumba Boobook (Ninox sumbaensis)
  • Southern Boobook (Ninox novaeseelandiae)

Papuan Hawk-Owl or Uroglaux

Jamaican Owl or Pseudoscops

Eared Owls or Asio

  • Stygian Owl (Asio stygius)
  • Long-eared Owl (Asio otus)
  • Abyssinian Owl (Asio abyssinicus)
  • Madagascar Owl (Asio madagascariensis)
  • Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus)
  • Marsh Owl (Asio capensis)
  • Striped Owl (Asio clamator)

Fearful Owl or Nesasio

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