Owls of Columbia County, Oregon

Owls are tough to see in normal circumstances, and are quite uncommon in Columbia County due to the heavy logging of our forests that has led to a lack of older and dead trees. But several species can still be seen (and heard) on occasion in the county if you pay careful attention.

barn owl columbia county oregon
Barn Owl – Tends to be found in agricultural areas, often using barns and other buildings for its nests. (photo © Kathy Munsel ODFW)
Great Horned Owl – Able to utilize many habitats, but prefers tall forests on the edge of fields and meadows. It nests in old hawk nests. (photo © Jacob Frank NPS)
Spotted Owl – Virtually never seen here due to the loss of the older forests it requires. An Endangered Species, its numbers continue to decline. (photo © Betsy Howell USFS)
Barred Owl This eastern species has been spreading and now competes with the Spotted Owl for territory. It has a streaked chest rather than white spots. (photo © D. Machado NPS)
short-eared owl columbia county oregon
Short-eared Owl – This mid-sized owl is an uncommon winter visitor, most often seen near farms and open areas. Considered a Sensitive Species by ODFW. (photo © USDA NRCS)
Northern Pygmy Owl – A tiny diurnal owl, using dense forest cover to hunt during the mornings and evenings. (photo © cgates326)
Western Screech Owl – This little owl is almost never seen due to its tendency to hide in dense woodland. (photo © Alan Schmierer)
Northern Saw-whet Owl – Another tiny, rarely-seen forest owl, you might hear its whistle-like “toot-toot-toot” sound in the dark. (photo © guyincognito)

Also seen passing through Columbia County on very rare occasions are Long-eared Owls and Snowy Owls.

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