Where Do Owls Live?

Photo: Ralph Daily / Flickr
Photo: Ralph Daily / Flickr

Different species of owls live in different habitats as certain species of owls live in wooded areas, rainforests, grassy plains and deserts. Owls can live in trees, hollowed-out logs, inside cactus, a hole in the ground, barns or the abandoned nests of other birds. They do not make their own nests.

Owls patiently stalk their prey from high trees, but do not necessarily live in treetops and can make their home in lower shelter, such as bushes, shrubs and tree trunks. The burrowing owl lives underground in holes dug by other animals. There are more than 200 different species of owls and they are characterized by their solitary, nocturnal habits.

What materials do owls use to build nests?

Owls are not elaborate nest builders, and instead of flying back and forth with lots of twigs to painstakingly assemble a nest, they’ll seek out open cavities in trees or large cactus plants. A cozy nook that provides adequate protection from predators and the elements is all they need.

Being opportunists, owls won’t hesitate to move into abandoned bird nests. The perfect cozy outdoor tree nest for an owl is one built by large birds such as crows, hawks and great blue herons. These nests are just the right size to lay eggs and comfortably nurture two or more babies once hatched.

Why do owls live in barns?

The white-faced barn owl has a wide range, and is often found living in barns on several continents, including North America. These owls prefer to live and hunt in spacious rural areas, and this is exactly where many barns are located. If a barn has an open window or crevice large enough for owls to squeeze through, they scoot in and make a home in the upper rafters or a corner.

The choice of living in the barn is easy for these birds, because it saves them time and effort looking for outdoor nesting spots. The barn owl is quite capable of living in urban areas, and may choose to nest in suburbs or cities, depending on food source availability.

How do owls create ground nests?

While it’s common to think of owls living in trees, burrowing owls prefer living underground. Digging up dirt to create a hole in the ground isn’t something owls like doing. That’s why they leave this hard work to prairie dogs, armadillos, and squirrels. These small owls simply move into abandoned burrows and make themselves at home. On occasion, they resort to digging their own burrows when other options aren’t readily available.

What owl lives in a cactus?

Desert owls living in arid conditions don’t have the luxury of woodlands filled with tall trees. However, there are plenty of cactus around that serve the same purpose. These small birds are sometimes spotted peeking out from their cozy cactus nooks. While the outside of the cactus plant is prickly, inside the plants have sturdy ribs and pliable flesh. Owls and other desert birds are able to live in small nooks completely unharmed by prickly needles.

What is an owl box?

An owl box is a human-made structure crafted of wood. It often has a square or rectangular shape, and a hole large enough for adult owls to slip through. A flat or round perch may be added underneath the box opening, allowing the birds to stand and keep watch outside. Owl lovers often place these boxes inside of barns, or they attach it to a long pole to encourage nesting activities.

Do owls ever change habitats?

Owls are natural hunters, and require access to adequate food supplies in order to remain in a territory. When food grows scarce they seek out new territories where hunting conditions are better. Their ability to find new nesting and hunting grounds can be hampered by forces too momentous for owls to handle. For example, changing climate conditions and human habitat encroachment are causing declines in some owl populations.

Owls live in most regions of the world, and their presence helps keep rodent populations in check. These intriguing birds make any nook a home, and hearing the sound of hooting is how you know an owl is nearby.

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