Owls are birds of prey that primarily are active during the night and during twilight hours. Much like hawks, owls prey on rodents, reptiles and other small animals, including invertebrates. Review N.C. State University Cooperative Extension‘s publication Owls Working With Wildlife to learn about owl adaptations, habitat, and management.


(Strix varia)

The barred owl is found throughout North Carolina but numbers vary with available suitable habitat. It prefers mature hardwood floodplain forests and nests in hollow trees often over water.  The barred owl gets its name from the horizontal barring on its throat and upper breast contrasting with a pattern of irregular bold, vertical streaks just below.

(Bubo virginianus)

The great horned owl inhabits all 100 counties of North Carolina. This bird can be found in just about any type of woodland habitat although it prefers drier areas. It is also found hunting (and even nesting) in city and town limits farmlands, and suburban areas with scattered trees. The two prominent ear tufts of feathers, resembling horns give this owl its common name.

(Aegolius acadicus)

The northern saw-whet owl is state-listed North Carolina Threatened.  Northern Saw-whet Owls are forest birds. One of the most common owls in forests across northern North America, and the smallest owl in eastern North America saw-whets are highly nocturnal and seldom seen.