“10 Largest Birds of Prey in the World –

Most people have heard the deep, powerful hooting of an owl late at night

These impressive birds are generally nocturnal, and their camouflaged feathers commonly allow them to go unseen by prey animals and bird-watchers alike

Those who are lucky enough to spot one of the elusive owls are often surprised by just how large they can get!

While a large portion of the hefty appearance of these 5 species of owls can be attributed to their fluffy feathers, make no mistake–these incredible raptors can grow to amazing sizes

Let’s learn a little bit about 5 of the largest species of owls in the world, and what makes each of them special

Great Horned Owl – (Bubo virginianus)

Location: North and South America and the Arctic

The Great Horned Owl is the most common owl in the Americas, and gets its name from its iconic feathered “horns” that extend from the top of its head

These impressive birds are primarily monogamous, and share parental duties such as incubating eggs and hunting for food to sustain both parents during the incubation period

This versatile hunter’s prey ranges from small critters like scorpions and rodents to larger birds, including other raptors

The Great Horned Owl is even powerful enough to bring down prey much larger than itself, though most of the time this isn’t necessary

Like many other owls, the Great Horned Owl swallows its prey whole

Snowy Owl – (Bubo scandiacus)

Location: North America and Arctic tundras

Identifying Trait: Distinctive black and white plumage and heavily feathered feet

This owl’s beautiful coat of feathers is adapted for warmth and camouflage, helping it blend into its frigid habitat to avoid startling its prey before it finds the perfect moment to strike

The Snowy Owl has a distinct tuft of feathers surrounding its beak, which helps it feel nearby objects more effectively

Additional thick tufts of feathers cover the bird’s feet, serving both to keep it warm and to act as snowshoes, which help it to avoid sinking into the snow

The Snowy Owl is thought to be one of the most agile owls, and is able to pluck small birds from their flight path mid-air

Lemmings make up a major portion of the Snowy Owl’s diet, and are such an key source of food that the lemming population may determine whether or not the owls nest and reproduce that year

In contrast to many other owl species, the Snowy Owl is more on the diurnal side

It rests at night, and often hunts its prey during the daytime

Great Grey Owl – (Strix nebulosa)

Location: North America

Identifying Trait: Large facial disc, mottled grey coat, and white “moustache”

Source: pixabaycom

This adept hunter sports a beautiful coat of grey feathers and the largest facial disc of any known bird

This facial disc is a round, concave formation of feathers that directs sound more effectively to the owl’s ears

The Great Grey Owl’s superb hearing enables it to locate prey up to two feet deep in the snow

This owl’s prey consists largely of rodents and small birds, though it has been known to eat larger prey such as smaller raptors and larger mammals such as rabbits

While largely nocturnal, Great Grey Owls also hunt throughout the daytime

Swamplands and moist forests appeal more to this bird than other habitats do, but they are willing to inhabit other environments, especially during migration

Great Grey Owls do not build their own nests

Eurasian Eagle Owl – (Bubo bubo)

Location: Europe, Asia, and Northern Africa

Identifying Trait: Distinct vocal patterns, striking orange eyes, and feathery tufts

These large, adaptable birds can be found in a wide variety of habitats

They’re even known to make their home in urban areas like city parks as long as there are adequate nesting spots and prey to hunt

With no natural predators in the wild and only human interference to fear, Eurasian Eagle Owls can live to the ripe old age of 20 years in its natural habitat

Like most owls, this feathered hunter is nocturnal and plays an important part in keeping the populations of prey animals in check

The Eurasian Eagle Owl enjoys a flexible diet of mammals, birds, fish, insects, and reptiles

Each individual member of the Eurasian Eagle Owl population has its own unique set of vocalizations, and you can determine which owl is calling by the distinct sound of its voice

Blakiston’s Fish Owl – (Bubo blakistoni)

Identifying Trait: Ear-like tufts and a diet of fish

The Blakiston’s Fish Owl is the largest owl in the world

This majestic sub-variety of eagle owl is found only in a few specific areas of the world, and conservation efforts must be made in order to preserve its habitat

Deforestation and excessive fishing of the owl’s preferred food have already impacted the population enough to place it on the endangered species list

The Blakiston’s Fish Owl requires riparian forests with old, dead trees in order to nest, hunt, and thrive

On top of being the largest owl in the world, this beautiful owl is also one of the rarest of all birds

Did You Know?

Did You Know?

Did You Know?

Did You Know?

Did You Know?

Most owls have soft, downy feathers on their wings in order to silently sneak up on prey

Since the Blakiston’s Fish Owl hunts primarily fish, they do not have the usual downy layer to muffle the beating of their wings

When most people think of birds, they imagine delicate little creatures that flap around yards and gardens, much like the Hummingbird, Cardinal, or Blue Jay Though these breeds are beautiful, majestic, and a great representation of the species, there are many bird types that are large and slightly terrifying, both because of their size and piercing qualities

The owl is an impressive example of large birds, known for its deep and powerful hoot during the night

Being a nocturnal species, owls have feathers that are camouflaged so they can hunt their prey unseen

Though owls can be large or small, the large owls are something frightening yet fluffy, making them seriously attractive predators

Let’s look at the five largest owls in the world and learn a bit about their life and characteristics

The 5 Largest Owls in the World

Habitat: China, Japan, and Russia

The biggest owl in the world is the Blakiston’s Fish Owl, which is a subvariety of eagle owl that is not found in many locations

Many conservation efforts have been made to preserve its habitat so that the frighteningly large owl can remain on earth naturally

Being so large, the Blakiston’s Fish Owl is one of the rarest bird breeds, and it certainly isn’t something to mess with

The Blakiston’s Fish Owl has a unique look

It is incredibly massive, with rounded ear tufts at the top of the head that can be relaxed

Its face includes a facial disc, but the facial disc does not have a distinct rim like other breeds

The chin is white while the rest of its body is brown with blackish-brown colorations

The female Blakiston’s Fish Owls are normally larger than the males, but both are big

Their size allows them to eat a primarily fish diet, hence its name

The Blakiston’s Fish Owl primarily eats fish

Some of these fish are even large, much like a catfish or trout

During the winter months, these birds will also hunt smaller mammals, like hares

They typically hunt right at dark, but they can be active during dusk too

Most of the Blakiston’s Fish Owl’s time is spent on the ground

One thing that makes this breed stand apart, aside from its huge size, is its song

The owl’s song is very unique, with a deep sound

Blakiston’s Fish Owls are primarily found in riverine and coniferous forests

They specifically stay around areas where the fast-flowing rivers remain partially ice-free during the winter, allowing them to hunt their ideal prey – fish

Habitat: Asia, Europe, and Northern Africa

The runner up for the largest owl in the world is the Eurasian Eagle Owl This owl has a very terrifying and striking look, complete with noticeable ear tufts, feathered talons, and potentially red eyes

These birds are incredibly large and have powerful hunting abilities

Eurasian Eagle Owls have a facial disc that frames the face

At the top of the head are very prominent ear tufts

From the chin to the center of the upper breast, the owl has a white belly

The rest of the body is speckled with dark colors

Another unique characteristic of its look is eye color

Whereas many owls have yellow eyes, this one can have golden-yellow or orange-red eyes, making them look slightly demonic at times

The bird as a whole is gigantic, both in wingspan and weight

These owls are primarily active between dusk and dawn

These large birds will sometimes even soar or glide over long distances

Eurasian Eagle Owls will typically roost during the day, both single or in pairs, in trees or rock crevices

One thing that’s unique about the Eurasian Eagle Owl is that every adult has a different vocalization

This means that you can determine which owl you hear just by listening to its voice

The Eurasian Eagle Owl can be found in a variety of habitats, ranging from cooler forests to warm deserts

Habitat: North America

The Great Grey Owl has a large wingspan, but it is notably lighter than many other large owl breeds

It has a very distinctive look, complete with a round head and silvery-gray patterning

You can expect to find these tall birds in dense forests

The adult Great Grey Owl has an overall silvery-gray look and rounded head

Their most striking feature is the disc look of their head

These owls are not very heavy, but they are incredibly tall with broad wings

For a bit of reference for their size, these owls are larger than Great Horned Owls but smaller than Bald Eagles

Great Grey Owls avoid areas with people

You’ll most likely see them at the edge of meadows or by forest openings

They primarily hunt before dawn or dusk

When they do hunt, they fly low to the ground over the meadow or forest floor

You can most likely find a Great Grey Owl in dense forests with pine or fir trees

They especially like forests where there is a small opening or meadow in close range, giving them both easy prey and hidden foliage to hide in

These owls have also been known to live in subarctic swampy forests

4 Snowy Owl

Habitat: North America and the Arctic

One of the most beautiful owls is the Snowy Owl, thanks to its striking white feathers

It has even been known to pluck smaller birds from the air

Since this owl is found in snowy regions, it has a striking white camouflage coloration

Snowy Owls have a very unique look since they are native to snowy environments, unlike most other owls that stay in forests

They are primarily white, but some adults will have brown spots speckled throughout the white feathers

Females tend to have more coloration than males

These birds are quite large

They are slightly larger than a Great Horned Owl, but not by much

Snowy Owls have rounded heads and a bulky body

Their legs are especially thick with feathers to keep them warm in cold environments

Snowy owls tend to hunt closer to the ground and in wide-open areas since their native tundra environments lack trees and other foliage

While hunting, they perch on things like fence posts or hay bales

Snowy Owls breed in the Arctic tundra, but you can often find them around lakes, oceans, and agricultural fields during the deep winter

Related Read: 18 Largest Reptiles in the World (with Pictures)

Habitat: North America, South America, and the Arctic

Finally, the fifth-largest owl in the world is the Great Horned Owl This large breed is exactly what you imagine when thinking of a storybook owl, complete with fluffy feathers and a deep hoot

Despite its storybook look, it is incredibly large and a great hunter

You can easily identify these owls because of their interesting ear tufts

Unlike the other breeds, the Great Horned Owl is really common

The Great Horned Owl, as you might have guessed, is named after its most identifiable feature: ear tufts that look much like horns on the top of their head

Another unique feature of the great horned owl is that it has yellow eyes

The rest of their body is rather camouflaged, allowing them to be great hunters

Their color pattern is typically a gray-brown, but they often have reddish-brown faces and a white patch around the throat

The exact color tone of a Great Horned Owl will depend on the region it is from

As for the size, the adult Great Horned Owl is going to be between a Crow and a Goose

This makes them a pretty large species that is capable of taking down small mammals

Great Horned Owl are great hunters and look for their prey at night

You likely have heard their hoot, which is deep and repeated four to five times

The Great Horned Owl can actually be found in many locations

You will typically find them in young woods, but you could also find them around tundra edges, the desert, or a rainforest, making them one of the most adaptable owl species

These owls have also been known to be spotted in cities, suburbs, and orchards

Related Read: Do Crows & Ravens Make Great Pets?

What You Need to Know!

The largest owl is the Blakiston’s Fish Owl From there, the remaining large owl breeds are as follows: the Eurasian Eagle Owl, the Great Grey Owl, the Snowy Owl, and the Great Horned Owl All of these owls are large and impeccable hunters, meaning you should not mess with them

Given that we are taking a lot of their natural land through deforestation, we shouldn’t do anything to make their situations worse, like mess with them!

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Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

Owls are some of the most recognizable birds in the world

This doesn’t come off as a surprise, as the various species of owls are found in every continent on the planet, except Antarctica

These many species of owls come in many shapes and colors, with some small enough to sit in the palm of your hand

With that, here are the ten contenders for the world’s largest owl

01Blakiston’s Fish Owl02Eurasian Eagle Owl03Great Grey Owl04Snowy Owl05Verreaux’s Eagle Owl06Great Horned Owl07Barred Owl08Powerful Owl09Spotted Owl10Long-Eared Owl

Blakiston’s Fish Owl

Blakiston’s Fish Owl

Conservation Status: Endangered

Image from Adobe StockThe largest owl in the world, the Blakiston’s Owl Fish, which name was taken from British naturalist Thomas Blakiston, was first documented in 1883

It can grow up to 72 cm long from beak to tail, with a wingspan of up 200 cm

It can also be spotted in China’s Manchurian region, as well as along the coast north of the Russian city of Vladivostok

Unfortunately, the bird suffers an endangered status caused by the destruction of its native habitat by human development

In Japan alone, scientists estimate that only 150 Blakiston’s Fish Owls remain in the country

Russia has the biggest population of Blakiston’s Fish Owl, at an estimated 1,500 birds

Geneticists express concern for the bird’s future, as their small population could result in inbreeding

Eurasian Eagle Owl

Eurasian Eagle Owl

Image from Adobe StockThe Eurasian Eagle Owl can actually grow to have a longer body than Blakiston’s Fish Owl, at up to 75 cm long

However, they have smaller wingspans of only up to 188 cm, making them only the second-largest owls in the world

The Eurasian Eagle Owl lives across most of Asia, though they avoid the tropical regions of South and Southeast Asia

The bird’s vast habitat range has allowed its population to grow, with scientists estimating up to a million Eurasian Eagle Owls in the world today

This, in turn, has made the bird a species of least concern for environmentalists

Great Grey Owl

Great Grey Owl

Image from Adobe StockThis fascinating bard has the nickname “Phantom of the North”, based on how its gray plumage makes it almost invisible against the surrounding environment

The bird also has the distinction of the longest owl in the world, able to grow to a length of 84 cm from beak to tail

However, it only has a wingspan of up to 152 cm, much less than that of an Eurasian Eagle Owl The Great Grey Owl originally came from Northern Asia, from where it migrated to North America

Today, it mostly lives in Russia and Canada, though the USA has a small population in its northwestern states

While human development of its habitat has impacted the species, the Great Grey Owl has managed to maintain its stable population

This has made it a species of least concern for conservation purposes

Read also: 100 Surprising Cat Facts That You Never Knew AboutSnowy Owl

Conservation Status: Vulnerable

Image from Adobe StockThe most iconic owl of them all, the Snowy Owl comes to mind when most people hear the word “owl”

It takes its name from its mostly white plumage, though the bird does sport specks of black on its wings and back

This lets the bird perfectly blend into its environment, that of the permanently frozen and ice-covered Arctic

This has also given the bird its alternative name of the Arctic Owl That said, Snowy Owls sometimes fly into Sub-Arctic regions to nest and hunt

In a surprising twist, the biggest threat today to their future isn’t human development on their habitats, but airplanes and vehicles

The birds crash into them while flying, usually suffering fatal injuries as a result

This has caused their population to drop to just an estimated 100,000 birds, making them a vulnerable species

Verreaux’s Eagle Owl

Image from Adobe StockAlso known as the Milky Eagle Owl or the Giant Eagle Owl, Verreaux’s Eagle Owl makes up the largest in Africa and the largest owl in the tropics

It takes its name from French naturalist Jules Verreaux, who first documented the bird in the early 19th century

It lives across the African continent south of the Sahara Desert, which has kept the species from expanding north

The species has also shown surprisingly adaptability over human development of its habit, having repeatedly changed its feeding patterns to survive

Scientists still remain unsure of Verreaux’s Eagle Owl’s overall population, but it currently counts as a species of least concern

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl

Image from Adobe StockThe most common owl in the Americas, the Great Horned Owl takes its name from a set of feathers that stand on its head giving the appearance of horns

The Great Horned Owl can grow up to 64 cm long, with a wingspan of up to 153 cm

The species lives across the entire North American continent, while also having a presence in Central America and the northern parts of South America

Parts of Brazil and Argentina in the eastern part of the continent also feature small populations of the bird

This wide range of habitats has allowed the Great Horned Owl to maintain a stable population, making it a species of least concern

Barred Owl

Image from Adobe StockAlso called the Striped Owl, it takes its name from the striping patterns across its entire body

The Barred Owl also has the distinction of the only owl in the Eastern USA with brown eyes, with every owl in the region having yellow or golden eyes

The bird can grow up to 63 cm long, with a wingspan of up to 125 cm

The bird can grow up to 63 cm long, with a wingspan of up to 125 cm

The bird can grow up to 63 cm long, with a wingspan of up to 125 cm

They mostly live in the Eastern USA, but Southern Canada also features a large population of Barred Owls

They also count among the most successful owl species in the world today, with some scientists even calling them an invasive species

This results from their ability to outcompete other predatory birds in areas neighboring their native habitats

That and their least concern status led scientists to propose culling programs to help keep their population under control

Powerful Owl

Image from Adobe StockAlso called the Powerful Boobook, this bird is the biggest owl in Australia and even one of the continent’s apex predators

They grow up to 65 cm long, with a wingspan of up to 135 cm

They live along the east coast of Australia, and up into the mountains of the Great Dividing Range

These mountains have also kept the species from expanding further across the continent

The Powerful Owl counts as the most carnivorous owl species in the world, with meat making up 75% of its diet

It also has a divisive conservation status, with international organizations classifying it as of least concern

However, the Australian states of New South Wales and Victoria both classify it as a vulnerable species instead

Spotted Owl

Image from Adobe StockThe Spotted Owl sometimes gets mistaken for the Barred Owl due to their similar appearance

However, the Spotted Owl takes its name from the cross-shaped spots on its body in place of the Barred Owl’s stripes

The species grows up to 43 cm long, with a wingspan of up to 114 cm

They mostly live in Mexico, with other populations scattered across the Southern and Western USA

The Spotted Owl has also suffered heavily from the destruction of its native habitats by human development

Competition by the Barred Owl in some areas has also negatively affected Spotted Owl populations

This, in turn, has made the Spotted Owl into a near-threatened species according to international organizations

Long-Eared Owl

Conservation Status: Least Concern

Conservation Status: Least Concern

Conservation Status: Least Concern

Conservation Status: Least Concern

Conservation Status: Least Concern

Conservation Status: Least Concern

Conservation Status: Least Concern

Image from Adobe StockAlso called the Lesser Horned Owl, this bird takes its name from the standing feathers on its head similar to the Great Horned Owl Long-Eared Owls grow up to 40 cm long, with wingspans of up to 102 cm

They have a vast range of habitats, with the birds widespread across Europe and much of Asia

Today, the Long-Eared Owl enjoys a least concern status for conservation purposes

However, many scientists question this, as they’ve found worrying trends of dropping populations in various areas caused by human development

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