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Who's the Most Superb Owl?

Pick your favorite by taking our poll.

All owls are superb, but some may be more superb than others.

In the spirit of competition, we've assembled a roster of our favorite owls, accompanied by their some of their most impressive qualities.

Help us determine which owl is the most superb of all by voting in our poll below.

Ashy Owl

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An ashy-faced owl, Tyto glaucops, at the Santo Domingo Zoo in Santo Domingo de Guzman, Dominican Republic.

Unless you live in Haiti or the Dominican Republic, you're not likely to ever see this owl. Don't be fooled by this owl's heart-shaped face. Those are the large black eyes of a killer that feeds on over 100 different species.

Spanish Eagle-Owl

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A Spanish eagle owl, Bubo bubo hispanus, at the Palm Beach Zoo and Conservation Society.


You have to watch your back with this one. It's neither Spanish nor eagle, but rather 100 percent owl, with one of the largest ranges in the game. It can be found throughout Europe and Asia.

Great Gray Owl

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A great gray owl, Strix nebulosa.


Just by sound alone, this flying killer can locate and swoop in on potential prey (really well). This big guy lives mostly in Canada but on occasion will venture into the Pacific Northwest to search for food. It may look big, but it's all fluff. It's one of the tallest owls, yet it weighs less than smaller species.

Eastern Screech Owl

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A red phased Eastern screech owl, Megascops asio.


This little screecher can be found over most of the U.S., and it has a large population that's growing. In the wild, if you can't spot its yellow eyes and gray feathers, you might hear it's long, three-second screech that sounds similar to a horse's whinny.

Verreaux's Eagle-Owl

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Verreaux's eagle owl, Bubo lacteus, at Zoo Atlanta.


In this species, the females are the heavy hitters—they're larger and heavier. The young in this species belt out screeches, but when they get older, they emit a deep grunting noise that's been described as a "gwonk." You're not likely to see one in the U.S. These owls make their home in central and southern Africa.

Northern White-Faced Owl

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A Northern white-faced owl, Ptilopsis leucotis, at the Cincinnati Zoo.


You're looking at the face of a star. An owl of this species named "Popo-chan" was once in a Japanese TV show, but the species hail from northern and central Africa. It's easy to see why. This owl has spikey little ear tufts, enormous orange eyes, and a pretty black-and-white feather contrast.

Flammulated Owl

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A flammulated owl, Otus flammeolus.


Someone short-changed this owl during its naming process, but if anyone is familiar with short, it's this guy. (Flammulated means "flame-colored," and clearly flame-colored owl would have been a cooler name.) It's one of the smallest owls in North America, and you can find this ball of fire out West.

Spectacled Owl

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A spectacled owl, Pulsatrix perspicillata.


This owl does not care about the spectacle that is football—you can see that on its face. It has better things to do, like flying throughout its enormous habitat, which extends from Mexico to Brazil. If you spot one in the wild, you'll likely recognize its bright yellow eyes and white, feathery eyebrow.

Long-Eared Owl

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A long-eared owl, Asio otus.


A true team player: this owl is sometimes found roosting in North American trees with a dozen or so other owls of its species. It's at its most gregarious during breeding season, when males perform zig-zag flights, sometimes clapping their wings together.

European Barn Owl

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A long-eared owl, Asio otus.


There's some debate about whether this is a different species than other barn owls, but for now we'll say it's its own thing. This owl is ghostly white, has dark eyes, and swallows its prey whole, bones and all.

Short-Eared Owl

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Short-eared Owl, Asio flammeus, at the Raptor Recovery Center near Malcom, Nebraska.


You can't see those ears, but they're there. This owl is found throughout North America and is Hawaii's only native owl. Short-eared owls might be nature's most adaptable—they seem to have benefitted from strip-mining. The bird nests on reclaimed and replanted mines.

Great Horned Owl

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A great horned owl, Bubo virginianus.


You're looking at one of the most common owls in the Americas, easily recognizable by its feather tufts or "plumicorns."Among the things they're great at: protecting their young—they attack humans that get too close—and hunting mid-sized mammals like raccoons.

Snowy Owl

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A young female snowy owl, Bubo scandiacus.


This owl is a heavy hitter. Literally. It's the heaviest owl in North America, and when they fly fast enough, they can knock a grown man down. Adding to their list of impressive qualities, these owls breed in the Arctic and can withstand temperatures 40 degrees Fahrenheit below zero.

Western Screech Owl

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A western screech owl, Otus kennicottii, at the Sutton Avian Research Center.


Small. And loud. But not in the way you'd think. It doesn't really screech but rather lets out a bunch of hoots. These owls aren't much bigger than a pair of binoculars, but size doesn't get in their way. You can find them in western North America, taking down animals the size of their own body, like cottontail rabbits.