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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Where are north Texas' owls going?

Great-horned Owl
North Texans are often surprised to learn that they have owls as neighbors. It's true, but there are fewer owls around than a decade ago. That's worrisome!

Our common owls range from the ±10” Screech Owl, through the mid-sized Barn Owl and Barred Owl, to the large Great-horned Owl. All four kinds of owls hunt at night, feeding on animals that are also active at night. These include large insects (favored by Screech Owls), many kinds of rodents, up to skunks (a favorite of Great-horned Owls).

Barn Owls
      An owl is one of the best rodent-control creatures on earth. For example, one adult Barn Owl eats about 90g. of food a night – the equivalent of two rats.  A breeding pair and their chicks can eat about 3000 rats per year. Where rodents have been displaced by recent construction, owls (particularly Barn Owls) eat well.

     Unfortunately, the large, dead trees they like to nest in are frequently cut down and natural tree cavities are filled in, so good nesting sites can be hard to find.  Man-made nest boxes can help alleviate the problem, although not all owls use boxes. Boxes can be put almost anywhere – even on the wall of a house. It should be in shade most of the day and, especially in Texas, shouldn’t face the hot, west sun.

Screech Owls
Barred Owl
 Since owls fly quietly at night, you may never know that they’re around. During the day, they often sleep in the open, undetected, since they are so well-camoflaged. Hence they’re very good neighbors. With the leaves gone from most trees, now is an excellent time to look for them resting in trees.



  1. We frequently see two Great Horned Owls at the park on Douglas Lane in North Richland Hills - mostly during spring and summer. They exhibit a great deal of interest interest in our chihuahua - whom we always keep leashed.

    1. Thanks for letting me know, and for keeping your chihuahua leached. After all, a GHO can lift a full-grown cat. Chihuahuas are probably easier.

  2. We just saw about a dozen small grayish owls in our neighborhood in Corinth, TX. My husband first saw them lined up along our basketball goal. When I came out there were several on the roof, a few in our yard and you could hear many more in the neighbors trees. It was a very dark evening so difficult to see and impossible to get a picture. I was able to get within three feet of one on the mailbox with a flashlight and got a good look at him. Beautiful creature. Their call wasnt like I expected from an owl... more like a high pitched chattering sound. Great experience.