Of the 15 types of owls that can be found in Texas, several reside in the eastern portion of the state. These birds of prey subsist on small mammals, lizards, frogs, other birds, and reptiles. Owls are skilled hunters, and most are nocturnal creatures, doing their hunting when the sun sets. In eastern Texas, owls play an important part in the ecosystems they exist within.
The common barn owl exists in east Texas. It is an extraordinary bird, able to hunt in complete darkness while relying solely on its hearing. No other bird that has ever been tested has shown the incredible hearing the barn owl possesses. The barn owl is the rare species of bird in which the females have more noticeable markings than the males do.
The burrowing owl is one of the few owls that are active during the day as well as night. It lives on the ground and either digs its own home in the dirt or uses that of other animals, such as armadillos and prairie dogs. It is common on golf courses, fields, grasslands, airports, and even in cemeteries. The burrowing owl seems to favor insects during the day and hunts for smallish mammals at night.
Great horned owl
The great horned owl is a year round presence in eastern Texas and prefers open woodlands along with farmlands. This is the only type of owl that makes a meal out of skunks on a regular basis. The great horned owl will also kill and eat osprey chicks, small mammals, birds as large as herons, and reptiles like snakes and lizards. The female is the larger of the sexes, and this owl will use a nest made by other birds rather than construct its own.
Short and long eared
The short-eared owl and the long eared owl are similar birds except for the tufts of feathers on the top of the head where one would expect the ears of the bird to be. These tufts are longer in the long-eared owl and non-existent in the short eared type. The two species will spend the winters in east Texas.
The eastern screech owl, known for its resounding call, is a resident of east Texas. It is much like the western screech owl which can be found in western parts of the state except that it has a much lighter bill. The eastern screech owl inhabits eastern Texas all year and is a smallish owl, with a large specimen being less than a foot tall.
The northern saw-whet owl is a predator of insects and mice. It is found in the northern half of east Texas and is small, with adult owls being just 7 to 8 inches in height. This owl is fond of coniferous trees and will sit absolutely still when spotted. The northern saw-whet owl will do its hunting at night, swooping down upon its prey from a low lying perch.