Owls in Colorado

Colorado is home to 14 owl species, which can be attributed to the state’s diverse environments, including mountains, grasslands, and arid areas. While all owls are federally protected, the Burrowing Owl is considered at risk. This is an indirect effect of increased farming, which requires more land and has destroyed prairie dog burrows, which served as homes for this species of owl.

Owls in Colorado (CO)

List of Owls in Colorado

NameAverage SizeStatusWhere Do They Live in the StateMating Season
Small Owls
Northern Pygmy Owl
Length: 5.9–6.7 inches
Wingspan: 12 inches
NativeNorthern Colorado, around Boulder CountySpring to early summer (Late April to June)
Burrowing Owl
Length: 9-11 inches
Wingspan:  21-24 inches
NativePrairie dog “towns” in northern Colorado, around the Fort Collins area Late winter to early spring (February to August)
Flammulated Owl
Length: 6.5-7.5 inches
Wingspan: 12-15 inches
NativeCommon where ponderosa pine and Douglas firs grow, with sightings in Rocky Mountain National Park, San Juan National Forest, and Pike National ForestLate spring to early summer (mid-April to July)
Western Screech Owl
Length: 8.7 inches
Wingspan: 22 inches
NativeSouthwestern Colorado, near the Arkansas River as well as in places like Barr Lake State Park Late winter to early summer (February to May)
Eastern Screech Owl
Length: 6-10 inches
Wingspan: 18-24 inches
NativeSouthwestern Colorado, near the Arkansas River, as well as in places like Barr Lake State Park Late winter to spring (February to April)
Northern Saw-whet Owl
Length: 7 – 8 inches
Wingspan: 17-22 inches
NativeDifficult to track, but repeated sightings have taken place in Pinewood Springs and Estes ParkSpring (March to April)
Boreal Owl
Length: 8.7–10.6 inches
Wingspan: 20–24 inches
NativeSeen in the northern part of the state, mostly in thesubalpine forests of the Rocky Mountains, as well as White River National Forest and Medicine Bow–Routt National ForestSpring to summer (March to July)
Large Owls
Barn Owl
Length: 12-16 inches
Wingspan: 42-43 inches 
NativeCommon throughout the state, spreading across multiple counties like Adams, Boulder, Fremont, Larimer, Mesa, Montrose, Morgan, Pueblo, and moreYear-round, with peaks in late winter and spring (March to June)
Great Horned Owl
Length: 18-25 inches
Wingspan: 40-60 inches
NativeCommon and seen in both urban and forested areas, including Rocky Mountain National Park, Great Sand Dunes National Park, Pikes Peak, and moreLate fall to early winter (November to January)
Barred Owl
Length: 16-24 inches
Wingspan: 16-24 inches
NativeExtremely rare, only a few sightings near the Oklahoma panhandle and around South Platte RiverLate winter to spring (February to April)
Snowy Owl
Length: 20-27 inches
Wingspan: 49-58 inches
NativeThese owls are seen throughout the year on the Western Slope, but during winter, they are also seen in other parts of the stateVaries by region and based on prey availability (any time between May and September)
Long-eared Owl
Length: 13-16 inches
Wingspan: 24-40 inches
NativeThese owls are seen throughout the year on the Western Slope, but during winter, they are also seen other parts of the stateLate winter to Spring (February to April)
Short-eared Owl
Length: 13-17 inches
Wingspan: 33-43 inches 
NativeVery common in the grasslands of eastern Colorado in places like Chatfield State ParkVaries, often in early spring (March to September)
Spotted Owl Length: 17 inches
Wingspan: 45 inches 
NativeSeen in the southern Rocky Mountains as well as National Forests like Rio Grande and GunnisonEarly spring to late summer (February to August)

Where Can You See Owls in Colorado

The Lake Pueblo State Park is a great place to see owls like the Great Horned Owl. It can also be seen in Rocky Mountain National Park, which is also home to other owls like the Boreal Owl and the Northern Pygmy Owl. Hiking on the Pikes Peak trail might lead to a sighting of the Flammulated Owl. Similarly, it is possible to catch a glimpse of the Western Screech while walking on the Pronghorn Trail.

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