Barred Owl, Blair Dudek for Macaulay Library Cornell Lab

Has a deep “hoot” emanating from the woods ever stopped you in your tracks? Or perhaps you’ve heard, long after dinner time, the repeated query, “Who cooks for you?”

In our South Coast region of Southern New England, we are graced by the beauty and mystery of no fewer than a half dozen species of owls. And you don’t need to venture too far into the woods to look for these birds; many have adapted to suburban and urban settings, and can be located with just a little knowledge of their habitat.

Barred Owl

Barred Owls can be common, if you keep a keen eye and if you know where to look. They are one of the two largest owls found year-round in our region. They also make the inimitable call of “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all.” Barred Owls favor areas close to bodies of water; they tend to hunt in some of the same habitats as hawks.

Great Horned Owl

The Great Horned Owl is the other of the largest year-round owls in our area. These have adapted best to city environments, and can be found in large parks, hunting for their prey. Theirs is also a very recognizable call, with the duet between male and female Great Horned Owls among the most iconic sounds of bird life.

Eastern Screech Owl

The Eastern Screech-Owl is also quite adaptable. A bit more secretive, this owl is much smaller than its cousins. These owls make their homes in the hollows of trees, and spend their days mostly in the dark–except when they take some time to sit motionless in the sun, their eyes closed or squinting, perfectly camouflaged. These owls often make their homes in city parks and cemeteries, but you’d have to keep your eyes peeled to locate them on a walk or jog!

Eastern Screech Owl, Jay McGowan for Macaulay Library Cornell Lab

When to View (or Listen!)

Winter is perhaps the best season to familiarize yourself with these unique and secretive creatures. With leafless trees, there is a much better chance of seeing owls that might hunt during the daytime – such as the Barred Owl – than when trees have leafed out. Once you have an idea of where to locate owls, you’ll find yourself drawn to the search for these and others.

Eyes on Owls Live Show!

Get up close and personal at the 10th annual annual live bird program, Eyes On Owls!

Owl experts Marcia and Mark Wilson present a demonstration of live owls with a plethora of educational material. Tickets for this exciting event are on sale now for both an early and late show. I can’t imagine a better format to learn about these wonderful creatures.

NOTE: We are looking for one or two extra volunteers at our upcoming Eyes On Owls program! If you are interested in offering a hand, please email Aaron or email us at to get involved!