What kind of owls live in tennessee?


Ever wondered about the nocturnal birds hooting in Tennessee‘s night skies? It turns out, this state is a haven for a fascinating variety of owls. This blog post will not only introduce you to the types of owls residing in Tennessee but also shed light on their unique characteristics and habitats.

Ready to swoop into the world of Tennessee’s owl species? Let’s get started!

Key Takeaways

  • Tennessee is a haven for various owl species, including the Eastern Screech OwlGreat Horned OwlBarn OwlBarred Owl, and Long-Eared Owl.
  • Each owl species in Tennessee has unique characteristics and habitats that make them fascinating to observe. For example, the Eastern Screech-Owl is known for its excellent camouflage and distinctive ear tufts, while the Great Horned Owl stands out with its powerful yellow eyes and deep hooting call.
  • The diversity of owl species in Tennessee extends beyond the commonly known ones. Other owls found in the state include the Barred Owl, Short-Eared Owl, Northern Saw-Whet Owl, and occasionally rare sightings of Snowy Owls during winter migrations.


Species of Owls in Tennessee

Tennessee is home to a variety of owl species, including the Eastern Screech OwlGreat Horned OwlBarn OwlBarred Owl, and Long-Eared Owl.

Eastern Screech-owl

Native to Tennessee, the Eastern Screech-Owl is an intriguing creature worthy of attention. It’s notably smaller in size compared to other owl species but compensates with its excellent camouflage and distinctive ear tufts.

This petite owl has a captivating ability to blend into tree trunks during daylight hours, baffling even the most watchful observers. Its distinct ear tufts give it an incredible appearance that further adds interest for birdwatchers and enthusiasts alike.

Although their size might suggest otherwise, don’t underestimate their resourcefulness; these owls have adapted well to the human-altered landscapes in Tennessee and can often be found nesting in suburban areas as well as woodlands.

Great Horned Owl

The Great Horned Owl is one of the most common owl species found in Tennessee. This majestic bird can be spotted throughout the state, from the forests of East Tennessee to the open landscapes of Middle Tennessee.

With its distinctive ear tufts and powerful yellow eyes, the Great Horned Owl is a formidable predator. It preys on a variety of animals, including small mammals, birds, and even other owls.

Known for its deep hooting call that echoes through the night, this owl has become an iconic symbol of wilderness and mystery. If you’re lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a Great Horned Owl in Tennessee, it’s sure to leave you in awe of nature’s beauty.

Barn Owl

The Barn Owl is one of the owl species that can be found in Tennessee. With its distinct heart-shaped face and pale plumage, it stands out among other owls in the area. This medium-sized owl prefers open grasslands, farmlands, and marshes for hunting rodents, making it well-adapted to rural areas in Tennessee.

The Barn Owl has a unique ability to locate prey by sound alone using its exceptional hearing skills. It is often recognized by its eerie screeching call, which adds to its mystique as a nocturnal hunter.

In Tennessee, the Barn Owl population benefits from the abundance of suitable habitats throughout the state, making it a fascinating bird to observe for wildlife enthusiasts.

Barred Owl

The Barred Owl is a fascinating owl species found in Tennessee, known for its distinctive hooting call and dark eyes. These beautiful creatures have a unique ability to hybridize with the endangered Northern Spotted Owl, making them an important species in terms of conservation efforts.

With their striking barred pattern on their chest and brown plumage, these medium-sized owls can be commonly spotted throughout the state’s woodlands and forests. Their adaptability allows them to thrive in various habitats, from swamps to suburban areas.

The Barred Owls’ preference for dense vegetation ensures they have plenty of hiding spots during daylight hours while they are resting. They are incredibly skilled hunters and primarily feed on small mammals like mice and squirrels but aren’t afraid to diversify their diet with birds, reptiles, amphibians, or even fish when necessary.

Long-eared Owl

The Long-Eared Owl is another fascinating owl species that can be found in Tennessee. With its strikingly long ear tufts, it has a distinct appearance that sets it apart from other owls.

These tufts are not actually ears but serve to enhance their camouflage and help them communicate with other owls. The Long-Eared Owls prefer dense woodlands as their habitat, where they nest in tall trees or on cliff ledges.

They are typically nocturnal hunters and feed primarily on small mammals like mice and voles. Despite their large size, they are incredibly agile flyers, silently gliding through the night sky in search of prey.

Other Owl Species in Tennessee

The Short-Eared Owl and Northern Saw-Whet Owl are among the other owl species found in Tennessee, adding to the diversity of owls in the state.

Short-eared Owl

The Short-eared Owl is one of the owl species that can be found in Tennessee. Known for its distinctive facial disk and short ear tufts, this owl prefers open grasslands and marshy areas as its habitat.

It has a mottled brown plumage with dark streaks, which helps it blend in perfectly with its surroundings. Unlike most other owls, the Short-eared Owl is often seen hunting during daylight hours, making it easier to spot for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike.

With its low flight pattern and impressive wing span, this owl puts on quite a show as it hunts for small rodents like voles and mice. Its presence adds to the diverse range of owl species that call Tennessee their home.

Northern Saw-whet Owl

The Northern Saw-Whet Owl is one of the smallest owl species found in Tennessee. It can be seen in woodlands and forests throughout the state, often perched quietly and camouflaged among tree branches.

These cute little owls have rounded heads with large yellow eyes and a distinctive facial disk. They are primarily active at night, feeding on small mammals like mice, voles, and shrews.

Despite their small size, Northern Saw-Whet Owls have an impressive hunting ability and can capture prey with remarkable precision using their sharp talons. Their soft hooting call resembles the sound of a saw being sharpened – hence their intriguing name! So next time you find yourself exploring Tennessee’s woodlands or forests after dark, keep your ears open for the unique call of the Northern Saw-Whet Owl.

Rare Owl Sightings in Tennessee

Rare owl sightings in Tennessee include the Snowy Owl, which is occasionally spotted during winter migrations.

Snowy Owl (Rare)

The Snowy Owl is a rare sight in Tennessee, but occasionally these majestic birds can be spotted during their winter migrations. With their stunning white plumage and piercing yellow eyes, the Snowy Owls stand out from other owl species.

They are known for their ability to adapt to various habitats, including open fields and tundra regions. These large owls have a wingspan of up to 5 feet, making them one of the largest owl species in the world.

While it may be uncommon to see a Snowy Owl in Tennessee, birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts should keep an eye out for these beautiful creatures during the colder months when they venture southward seeking food and suitable resting grounds.


In conclusion, Tennessee is home to a variety of owl species. From the majestic Great Horned Owl to the elusive Snowy Owl, these birds bring beauty and intrigue to the state’s diverse habitats.

Whether you’re exploring Middle Tennessee or venturing into East Tennessee, keep your eyes peeled for these fascinating creatures as you embark on your own owl-watching adventure.


1. What kind of owls can be found in Tennessee?

Several species of owls can be found in Tennessee, including the Eastern Screech-Owl, Barred Owl, Barn Owl, Great Horned Owl, and the Northern Saw-whet Owl.

2. Are there any rare or endangered owl species in Tennessee?

While not considered rare or endangered statewide, some owl species that are less common to find in Tennessee include the Long-eared Owl and the Short-eared Owl.

3. Where are the best places to spot owls in Tennessee?

Owls can be spotted throughout various habitats across Tennessee, but popular locations for owl sightings include state parks such as Radnor Lake State Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.

4. What is the typical behavior of owls in Tennessee?

Owls are primarily nocturnal hunters that feed on small mammals like mice and voles. They have exceptional hearing and silent flight capabilities that aid them in locating prey. Owls typically nest in tree cavities or use abandoned nests made by other birds.

Julian Goldie - Owner of ChiperBirds.com

Julian Goldie

I'm a bird enthusiast and creator of Chipper Birds, a blog sharing my experience caring for birds. I've traveled the world bird watching and I'm committed to helping others with bird care. Contact me at [email protected] for assistance.