small owl with big eyes on a branch
Northern saw-whet owl Northern saw-whet owl. © Megan Lorenz

Animals We Protect


There are more than 200 species of owls and TNC is working strategically to protect owls and owl habitat around the world.

Barred Owl
Barred Owl Barred Owl perched on moss-covered rock. © Shutterstock

Owl Fast Facts

Class: Aves

Scientific name: Strigiformes

Conservation status: Varies

Lifespan: On average, 9-10 years in the wild, but varies by species

Wingspan: From 10.5 inches (Elf owl) to 75 inches (Eurasian eagle-owl and the Blakiston's fish owl)

Meet the Owl 

There are more than 200 species of owls dispersed around the world. Mostly nocturnal, owls are predatory birds which accounts for their hooked beaks and sharp talons. Owls range in size and so, therefore, do their prey. Many eat small rodents, while larger owls can take down small deer and foxes.

Owls breed seasonally so that chicks are hatched when food is plentiful. The number of eggs laid by owls depends upon the specific species but all owls produce white eggs.

One of the most well-known characteristics of owls are their calls. These calls are used to protect territory and attract mates. Owls are often very territorial, so large connected habitats are essential for most owl species to thrive. 

Owl Species

With over 200 species, owls can come in all shapes and size. Click the image to learn about these owls!

Snowy owl flying close to the snow
Great Horned Owl
Barred owl sitting on a log
Close up of a short eared owl
Family of burrowing owls

Protecting Owls 

The Nature Conservancy is working throughout the world to protect owls and owl habitat. A few examples of these efforts include:

  • We are helping tag and track snowy owls in Cape May, New Jersey as part of Project SNOWstorm. Other species of owls are being banded in Pennsylvania.

  • In Washington, we’re protecting spotted owl habitat by conserving old growth forest. 

  • With a broad coalition of partners, we’re finalizing a conservation strategy that reaches across more than 13 million acres of the Thunder Basin and northward into Montana, which includes burrowing owl habitat.

Help protect owls and other birds of prey.