There are eight different owl species in Ohio

Photograph: Tony Gazso

By Mimi Vanderhaven

Since being depicted in Greek mythology perched on the shoulder of Athena, the goddess of wisdom, the owl has held cachet for centuries as a possessor of fierce intelligence.

And that myth is actually fairly accurate. We caught up with Tony Gazso, Lake Metroparks Interpretive Manager, for some insights into this fascinating creature.

“Owls are master predators, using thoughtful strategies to capture prey, which is often bigger than themselves,” says Tony, who pens the weekly birding blog found at “Larger owls, such as the Great Horned Owl, have been known to eat mammals from chipmunks and skunks to house cats and ducks. They even eat other owls and hawks.”

There are around 200 species of owl worldwide, living on every continent except Antarctica and in nearly every habitat from tundra to desert to rainforest. In Ohio, eight owl species can be found: the eastern screech-owl, barred owl, great horned owl, short-eared owl, long-eared owl, barn owl, northern saw-whet owl (seen here) and the snowy owl.

Here in Lake County, we are blessed with an abundance of year-round and migratory owls.

Tony explains the smallest and most common owl in our region is the eastern screech-owl.

“Only about the size of a robin, eastern screech-owls come in gray and red color morphs,” he says. “They can be found tucked into the crevices of trees. Listen for their haunting trill song at night.”

Now is a great time to search for them, as the leaves have mostly fallen from the trees. They can be tricky to find, even if you know where to look. He recommends spying for them perched on limbs or huddling up in tree hollows.

Keep your eyes peeled and if you’re very lucky, you just might catch a glimpse of one of these majestic avian predators.

Lake Metroparks provides more than 3.5 million visitors with countless recreational and educational experiences at diverse facilities including an agriculturally themed park, a nature center, an education and wildlife rehabilitation center, two golf courses, more than 60 miles of trails, six parks on Lake Erie’s shoreline and a cross-country ski center. Visit for more information.