Can You Identify These Owl Species from a Photo?

Estimated Completion Time
3 min
Can You Identify These Owl Species from a Photo?
Image: DansPhotoArt on flickr/Moment/Getty Images, zahoor salmi/Moment/Getty Images , Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Can you tell the difference between a snowy owl and a great grey, or a burrowing owl and a barn owl? Test your knowledge of these magnificent birds with our quiz on all things owl!

All of the 200+ species of owls on planet Earth share a few common traits. They are mostly solitary creatures, and most are active in the shadow of the night rather than the light of the day. They have sharp talons, incredible hearing and eyesight, and feathers that help them silently swoop up to grab their prey.

Yet for all their similarities, various owl species are actually fairly easy to tell apart. The most common owl family, Strigidae, includes around 200 known species. They range from the size of a tiny sparrow to species equipped with a 6-foot wingspan or more and can be found on every continent but Antarctica.

Barn owls, on the other hand, include only around 20 species. They are medium to large on average, have an easy-to-spot facial disc or heart, and don't live most of northern North America, eastern Asia or Saharan Africa.

Think you can identify some of the most common species by name using only a single image? Take our quiz to find out!

Little Owl Can you identify this owl species?
Little owl
Native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa, the little owl belongs to the Strigidae owl family. It's very common, with a surprisingly large population. It weighs just around 6 ounces, is about 8 inches long, and comes in shades of streaked or speckled brown and white.
Whiskered screech owl
Flammulated owl
Boreal owl

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SHORT-EARED OWL What owl species is this?
Snowy owl
Short-eared owl
No, those aren't actually ears. The protrusions that give the short-eared owl its name are actually tufts of feathers. Weighing in between 8 ounces and one pound, these small creatures are found on every continent but Antarctica and Australia.
Whiskered screech owl
Colombian barn owl

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American Barn Owl Can you name the owl species shown in this image?
Burrowing owl
Tawny fish owl
Mottled owl
American barn owl
Thanks to its heart-shaped face, it's really difficult to confuse the American barn owl with other bird species. This medium-sized owl has a short, squared off tail, black eyes set in a pale face, and feathers ranging from brown to gray.

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TAWNY OWL Know the name of this owl?
Tawny owl
The tawny owl is native to Europe and western Asia. It has a stocky build and is highly territorial using its excellent hearing to hone in on rodents and other prey.
Tawny fish owl
Spotted wood owl
Mottled owl

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BOREAL OWL Which type of owl does the image show?
Great horned owl
Crested owl
Boreal owl
Boreal owls measure 8 to 10 inches long and are brown with white spots on their backs. Found in colder regions of North America, Europe, and Asia, they have yellow eyes and a yellow beak and are known for being fairly shy and evasive.
Middle American screech owl

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EURASIAN SCOPS OWL Do you know the name of this owl species?
Eurasian scops owl
Part of the Strigidae group of true owls, the Eurasian scops owl lives in central Africa, southern Europe, and Asia. Ranging from brown to gray with large ear-like tufts of feathers on its head, this owl weighs a mere 2 to 3 ounces on average.
American barn owl
Boreal owl
Great grey owl

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EURASIAN EAGLE OWL Can you correctly identify this species of owl?
Snowy owl
Flammulated owl
Elf owl
Eurasian eagle owl
One of the largest owl species, the Eurasian eagle owl can be as long as 3 feet, with a wingspan of 6 feet or more. Native to Europe and Asia, this owl has prominent ear tufts and is black with a buff-colored underside.

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Mottled Owl Which owl species do you see in the image?
Short-eared owl
Snowy owl
Tawny fish owl
Mottled owl
The mottled owl calls Central and South America home. It gets its name from its mottled brown back and head, while its chest is streaked with brown. This owl has no ear tufts on its large round head and has deep black eyes.

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SPECTACLED OWL Which type of owl is this?
Whiskered screech owl
Spectacled owl
The spectacled owl lives in tropical areas of Central and South America. It measures up to 20 inches long and weighs between 2 and 3 pounds. It sports large white eyebrows, a snowy white underside, black head and back, and yellow eyes and beak. Rather than hooting, it's more commonly associated with a knocking or tapping sound.
Colombian barn owl
Ashy-faced owl

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GREATER SOOTY OWL Remember the name of this owl species?
Spotted wood owl
Burrowing owl
Greater sooty owl
The greater sooty owl is native to Australia and New Guinea. A medium to large owl species, it has large talons and a piercing cry, with big black eyes set in a sooty, silvery facial disk.
American barn owl

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STRIPED OWL Think you can name this owl?
Striped owl
The striped owl measures between 12 and 15 inches long and can weigh a pound or more. It has large ear tufts and short, rounded wings, with a deep black ring around its face.
Snowy owl
Elf owl
Short-eared owl

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Snowy Owl What is the name of this type of owl?
Snowy owl
The snowy owl is mostly white with some black specks - females tend to be more speckled than males. It lives in the Arctic and tends to be more active by day than by night.
Burrowing owl
Great horned owl
Great grey owl

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NORTHERN HAWK OWL Which type of owl is this?
Burrowing owl
Northern hawk owl
The northern hawk owl has a smoke-colored face, a long and banded tail and a brown and cream color scheme. It weighs less than a pound, and unlike most other owls, it is much more active during the day than at night.
Snowy owl
Elf owl

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LONG-EARED OWL Pick the name that identifies this owl species.
Snowy owl
Great horned owl
Long-eared owl
The long-eared owl gets its name from its very prominent black ear tufts, which are feathers, not actual ears. Native to Europe, Asia and North America, there are about 50,000 members of this species left on the Earth.
Crested owl

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GREAT GREY OWL Can you identify this owl species from just one image?
American barn owl
Snowy owl
Whiskered screech owl
Great grey owl
The great grey owl measures 2 to 3 feet long and can weigh as much as 4 pounds, pretty heavy for an owl. It's among the world's largest owl species and has a grey body with white feathers forming a collar or bow tie at its neck.

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CRESTED OWL Remember the name of this owl species?
Great horned owl
Eurasian eagle owl
Crested owl
The crested owl lives in tropical forests in Central and South America. It has prominent white ear tufts and eyebrows, plus chocolatey brown feathers on the rest of its body.
Flammulated owl

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MIDDLE AMERICAN SCREECH OWL Know what this owl species is called?
Middle American screech owl
The Middle American screech owl ranks among the smallest members of the screech owl family. No longer than 8 or 9 inches, it has grey or brown feathers, yellow eyes, and a greenish-yellow beak.
Colombian barn owl
Tawny owl
Snowy owl

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STYGIAN OWL Which owl species do you see in the image?
Burrowing owl
Stygian owl
Stygian owls primarily live in Central and South America, but have also been seen in the southern U.S. They are recognizable by their large ear tufts, white eyebrows, yellow eyes and black beak.
Short-eared owl
Crested owl

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ASHY-FACED OWL What owl species is shown in this picture?
Ashy-faced owl
The ashy-faced owl lives in forests in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. It has a heart-shaped, ashy grey face and a cream to brown body. Rather than hooting, this owl makes a variety of sounds, from clicks to wheezes to screams.
Crested owl
Elf owl
American barn owl

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CENTRAL AMERICAN PYGMY OWL Know the name of this owl?
Spotted wood owl
Boreal owl
Central American pygmy owl
Central American pygmy owls generally measure just 6 inches long or less. They don't have ear tufts, and are brown or grey, with bright yellow eyes and a yellow to green beak.
Great horned owl

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FULVOUS OWL Which owl does this image show?
Great grey owl
Tawny fish owl
Fulvous owl
The fulvous owl lives high in the mountains of the cloud forests of Central America. Rather than a hoot, it makes a woo-who, or a'hoo, a'hoo-hoo sound that makes it easy to distinguish from other owl species.
Eurasian eagle owl

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SPOTTED OWL What owl species is this?
Burrowing owl
Spotted owl
The spotted owl lives in forests in the western part of North America. It measures around a foot and a half and length and weighs slightly more than a pound. This owl is ear-less, with grey and brown feathers speckled with white cross-shaped marks.
Spectacled owl
Flammulated owl

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GREAT HORNED OWL Can you name the owl species shown in this image?
Great horned owl
Also known as the tiger owl, the great horned owl is native to the Americas. It's mottled brown and white fur provides great camouflage, except for a white patch at the throat. It gets its name from the prominent feathers tufting up like horns from its head.
Tawny fish owl
Snowy owl
Short-eared owl

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PACIFIC SCREECH OWL Choose the correct name for this owl species.
American barn owl
Eurasian eagle owl
Colombian barn owl
Pacific screech owl
The Pacific screech owl lives in tropical forests throughout Mexico and Central America. It's nocturnal, feasts on insects and rodents, and has brown feathers and bright yellow eyes.

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BURROWING OWL Pick the name that identifies this owl species.
Tawny owl
Elf owl
Burrowing owl
Burrowing owls, which are native to the Americas, weigh less than half a pound but have surprisingly long legs. These birds nest in burrows, like prairie dogs, and are much more active during the day than they are at night.
Whiskered screech owl

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CHESTNUT BACKED OWLET Which type of owl is shown here?
Elf owl
Chestnut backed owl
The chestnut backed owlet lives in Sri Lanka, and has a characteristic kraw-kraw call. It's white with black or brown streaks on its underside, but has a distinctive chocolate brown back.
Crested owl
Great grey owl

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ORIENTAL BAY OWL Which type of owl does the image show?
Oriental bay owl
The oriental bay owl belongs to the barn owl family. Native to southeast Asia, it has a heart-shaped face and ears - not tufts - that extend up above its eyes.
Short-eared owl
Snowy owl
Crested owl

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NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL Can you identify this owl species?
Eurasian eagle owl
Northern saw-whet owl
The northern saw-whet owl is very common but is so good at staying hidden that humans rarely spot it. This small owl measures less than a foot in length and weighs only around 3 ounces on average. It has brown and white feathers, a round white face and yellow eyes.
Flammulated owl
Burrowing owl

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TAWNY FISH OWL Do you know the name of this owl species?
Boreal owl
American barn owl
Tawny fish owl
The tawny fish owl lives in subtropical and temperate regions in Asia. It has prominent ear tufts, but they hang down on the sides of the owl's face rather than standing up. These owls can measure up to 2 feet in length and weigh in at a whopping 5 pounds.
Crested owl

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WESTERN SCREECH OWL Can you correctly identify this species of owl?
Pacific screech owl
Snowy owl
Burrowing owl
Western screech owl
The western screech owl makes its home in North and Central America. It has a small, round head and feathers streaked in shades of brown and grey. Rather than hooting, this owl makes many unusual sounds, including whistles, trills, screeches, and barks.

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CLOUD FOREST PYGMY OWL What is the name of this type of owl?
Cloud forest pygmy owl
The cloud forest pygmy owl is surprisingly short and stocky for an owl. It weighs less than 3 pounds and has dark brown feathers and a banded tail. It loves in the more humid climate zones within the Andes Mountains of South America.
Whiskered screech owl
Eurasian eagle owl
Flammulated owl

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BALSAS SCREECH OWL Can you identify this owl species from just one image?
Spectacled owl
Burrowing owl
Colombian barn owl
Balsas screech owl
Found in tropical forests within Mexico, the balsas screech owl is one of just a few species of screech owls with brown eyes rather than yellow. This small owl varies from grey to brown in color, and has a lighter underside.

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COLIMA PYGMY OWL Think you can name this owl?
Mottled owl
Sspotted wood owl
Colima pygmy owl
Native to Mexico, the Colima pygmy owl has a round head with yellow eyes and a yellow bill. It's brown and black, with a white streaked belly and narrow white eyebrows.
Eurasian eagle owl

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BLAKISTON'S FISH OWL Know what this owl species is called?
Tawny owl
Spectacled owl
Blakiston's fish owl
Blakiston's fish owl ranks among the largest known owl species - females can weigh as much as 10 pounds! Native to Japan, China and parts of Russia, this bird has prominent ear tufts and big yellow eyes.
American barn owl

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NORTHERN HAWK OWL 2 Choose the correct name for this owl species.
Eurasian eagle owl
Northern hawk owl
The northern hawk owl gets its name because it behaves more like a hawk than an owl, hunting by day rather than at night. It has a long, taper tail, black lines on either side of its face and yellow eyes and beak.
Short-eared owl
Tawny fish owl

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COLOMBIAN BARN OWL What owl species is shown in this picture?
Colombian barn owl
The Colombian barn owl is a medium to large owl native to South America. Like the American barn owl, it has a large head, a heart-shaped face and surprisingly powerful talons.
Boreal owl
Eurasian eagle owl
Elf owl

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ELF OWL Which type of owl is shown here?
Burrowing owl
Snowy owl
Short-eared owl
Elf owl
Elf owls are native to the southwestern US and Mexico. Measuring less than 5 inches long and weighing in at just a couple of ounces, this tiny bird lives up to its name. Instead of hooting, the elf owl makes its own sounds, including chuckles and yaps.

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FLAMMULATED OWL Can you ID this owl species?
Crested owl
American barn owl
Flammulated owl
The flammulated owl is so named because of the flame-like markings. Brown with white stripes and black eyes, this small owl lives in North and Central America.
Boreal owl

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Which owl does this image show? Which owl does this image show?
Great horned owl
Whiskered screech owl
The whiskered screech owl lives at high elevations in North and Central America. It has mottled coloring, ear tufts, and a yellow bill. Unlike many other owls, it communicates in a series of consecutive boo or toot sounds.
Tawny fish owl
Snowy owl

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SPOTTED WOOD OWL Can you ID this owl?
Spotted wood owl
The spotted wood owl lives in Asia, Myanmar and the Philippines. It has a dark brown back, a buff-colored underside and an orange-chestnut face mask with big black eyes.
Snowy owl
Colombian barn owl
Tawny owl

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