Tips for identifying owl species
Here you will find some tips for telling apart the native Pueo or Hawaiian Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus sandwichensis) from the introduced Barn Owl (Tyto alba). Please read the appearance, sounds, flight and habitat of these two species!
Short-eared Owl identification
About 350mm tall with a wing span of 1000mm.
Mottled pale brown underparts with upper breast streaked dark brown.
Mottled pale and dark brown upperparts.
Rounded brown face, yellow eyes and short, often indiscernible ear tufts.
Overall impression in flight of a large brown bird (but underparts can look almost white).
Buoyant flight in a back and forth motion.
Lives in farmland, moorland and wetland habitats, including marshes and reedbeds.
A male’s rarely heard song is a low ‘boo-boo-boo-boo-boo’, whilst females give a ‘ree-yow’ call.
Both nocturnal and diurnal, they can be seen hunting in daylight in suitable habitat.
Barn Owl identification
About 330mm tall with a wing span of 900mm.
Largely white underparts.
Golden buff upperparts with grey markings.
White, heart-shaped face with dark eyes.
Overall impression in flight of a large white bird.
Slow, buoyant flight in a back and forth motion.
Lives mainly in open farmland habitat (not woodland).
Seen but not heard, they call rarely.
Barn Owls don’t hoot! They shriek, hiss and snore.
Often seen at night whilst driving but dawn and dusk sightings are most common.
Barn Owl pellets are different from other owl pellets.
I hope this tips are useful for your future birdwatching adventures!