Owls in Arizona

There are 13 owl species native to Arizona. The state has a unique climate, with temperate forests with pine and spruce trees in the northern part and vast deserts in the southern region. This means that Arizona is home to an owl like the Northern Saw-whet Owl, which prefers elevated regions, and the Elf Owl, which nests inside hollows it makes in cacti.

Owls in Arizona (AZ)

List of Owls in Arizona

Name with SoundsAverage SizeStatusWhere Do They Live in the State?Mating Season
Small Owls
Northern Saw-whet Owl
Length: 7 – 8 inches
Wingspan: 17-22 inches
NativeWhile rarely seen, it is fairly common in Arizona. Prefers high elevations of about 5000 feet in the central and northern parts of the stateSpring (March to April)
Western Screech

Length: 8.7 inches
Wingspan: 22 inches
NativeMountain ranges of the southern part of ArizonaLate winter to early summer (February to May)
Northern Pygmy Owl
Length: 5.9–6.7 inches
Wingspan: 12 inches
NativeCentral Arizona, including the Madera CanyonSpring to early summer (Late April to June)
Flammulated Owl
Length: 6.5-7.5 inches
Wingspan: 12-15 inches
NativeSeen in places where ponderosa pines grow in central, northeastern, and southeastern ArizonaLate spring to early summer (mid-April to July)
Burrowing Owl
Length: 9-11 inches
Wingspan:  21-24 inches
NativeIn parks like Veterans Oasis Park and other places like Higley Road Ponds, Rio Salada Audubon Center in Phoenix, and Rousseau Sod FarmsLate winter to early spring (February to August)
Whiskered Screech Owl
Length: 6.3-7.9 inches
Wingspan:  17.3 inches
NativeSoutheastern Arizona, around the Madrean Sky regionLate spring to early summer (April to May)
Ferruginous Pygmy Owl
Length: 5.9 inches
Wingspan:  6.5-7 inches
NativeSouth-central Arizona, where it nests inside the cavities of cacti like the saguaroLate winter to spring (February to April)
Elf Owl
Length: 4.9-5.7 inches
Wingspan:  10.5 inches
NativeIn the Sonoran Desert, either near saguaro cacti or in places with easy access to waterLate spring to summer (April to July)
Large Owls
Barn Owl
Length: 12-16 inches 
Wingspan: 42-43 inches 
NativeOpen areas across the stateYear-round, with peaks in late winter and spring (March to June)
Great Horned Owl
Length: 18-25 inches
Wingspan: 40-60 inches
NativeSpotted in the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts but known to avoid the hotter parts and stay closer to places with vegetation and shadeLate fall to early winter (November to January)
Long-eared Owl
Length: 13-16 inches
Wingspan: 24-40 inches
NativeDifferent habitats like the White Mountains and national forests like the Apache-Sitgreaves and the CoconinoLate winter to Spring (February to April)
Short-eared Owl
Length: 13-17 inches
Wingspan: 33-43 inches 
NativeSoutheastern Arizona, especially over open fields and grassy habitatsVaries, often in early spring (March to September)
Spotted Owl
Length: 17 inches
Wingspan: 45 inches 
NativeNorthern Arizona, in national forests like the Coconino and the KaibabEarly spring to late summer (February to August)

Where Can You See Owls in Arizona

The Great Horned Owl, the Burrowing Owl, and the Western Screech Owl are the most common owls in Arizona, with sightings occurring in most wildlife preserves, like the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area and Catalina State Park. Rarer species like the Elf Owl have been seen in many places like Madera Canyon and Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve, though Kartchner Caverns State Park is one of the few places where these little owls are known to meet and breed regularly every year.

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