Owls liven up winter evenings in Missouri. And it's usually the best time of year to hear and see them. The barred owl, great horned owl, and eastern screech-owl are commonly found in our area. You can tell them apart by learning their calls.
The barred owl prefers deep woods around rivers and swamps. They usually save their choruses for the darker hours. Their hooting pattern sounds like, "Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?" Should you hear a barred owl, try calling back. They usually respond to imitated calls and sometimes even approach the caller.
The legendary hoot owl is the great horned owl. These owls like forests, suburbs, city parks and open countryside. Their call is a series of hoots similar in quality to the barred owl. They will also respond if you imitate their call.
The eastern screech-owl likes farms, orchards, woods and towns. Despite their big and fearful name, screech owls are small birds about the size of a robin. Their call doesn't even come close to a screech. It is more like a soft, mournful whinny. They are active at dusk. They also have two color morphs in red and grey with intermediate browns.
Check out the media gallery below for owl calls and pictures.
Discover more about barn owls in our MDC Field Guide.