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Top 6 Largest Owls in the World

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Blakiston's Fish owl

If you are an owl fan like we are, you probably have many ways to sort the different owl breeds so you can keep track of them. Habitat and location are great ways to sort, but the size is another fun option and right now, we will look at several of the largest breeds in the world.  For each breed, we’ll provide you with a short summary describing the most interesting aspects of each one, and we’ll also provide you with a picture to help you be better informed.

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The Largest Owls in The World

1. Barred Owl

barred owl
Image Credit: Pixabay
Wingspan 37–49 inches
Location United States

The Barred Owl is the first large owl on our list. It has a wingspan of 37 to 49 inches which is more than four feet. You can find this owl almost anywhere in the eastern United States and in many parts of Canada. It’s slightly smaller than the great horned owl but is much less aggressive. While these owls are usually active at night, you might also see them during the day, and they like to catch prey by flying low through the forest.

2. Great Horned Owl

female great horned owl
Image Credit: Pixabay
Wingspan 37–60 inches
Location North, Central, and South America

The great horned owl is a very common bird you can find all over the United States and many parts of Central and South America. It has a long wingspan that can reach 60 inches, and it’s closely related to the snow owl though it looks different. Its markings provide excellent camouflage, and though it can move from place to place, it often will spend an entire life in a single area. These birds can fly at speeds above 40 miles an hour, and they are one of the more aggressive breeds on this list.

3. Snowy Owl

snowy owl flying
Image Credit: Pixabay
Wingspan 37–60 inches
Location Canada, North America

The Snowy Owl is closely related to the Great Horned Owl though it is slightly larger and has different markings. It has an impressive wingspan that often reaches 5-feet, and these birds are often seen in the day and at night. They can migrate from Northern Canada as far south as Pennsylvania, so you have a chance of seeing them if you live in the extreme northern United States. Their light color is well suited to the cold, snowy environment, and they tend to choose perches closer to the ground than other owls.

4. Great Grey Owl

great grey owl
Image Credit: Pixabay
Wingspan 50–62 inches
Location North America, North Asia, and Europe

The Great Grey Owl is slightly larger than the Snowy Owl and is where we start to get into some enormous birds with wingspans larger than five feet across. The Great Grey Owl is a cold-weather bird that you can find in Canada, North Asia, and Europe. You might also get lucky and see it in isolated areas of the United States.  Like most owls, it has excellent hearing that it can use to capture prey hiding more than two feet below the snow.

5. Eurasian Eagle Owl

eurasian eagle owl
Image Credit: Kevinsphotos, Pixabay
Wingspan 60–74 inches
Location Europe and Asia

The Eurasian Eagle Owl is one of the largest owls in the world, with wingspans that reach more than six feet across. You can find it throughout Europe and Asia, but you must purchase one through a breeder to see one in America. Populations are sparse, but they can survive in many different habitats and live in larger numbers in areas with fewer humans. They are most active just after dark, and it will choose several settings to visit frequently to sing songs.

6. Blakiston’s Fish Owl

Blakiston's Fish Owl
Image Credit: Agami Photo Agency, Shutterstock
Wingspan 60–76 inches
Location China, Japan, Northeast Asia

The Blakiston’s Fish Owl is the largest of all owls. It’s similar to the Eurasian Eagle Owl but is often slightly larger and noticeably heavier. Unlike most other species, these owls capture fish out of the water, so they don’t have the down-covered feathers that allow them to fly silently. Unfortunately, the international union for the Conservation of Wildlife lists the Blakiston’s Fish Owl as an endangered species, and experts estimate that there are less than 200 birds left.

Related Read: 53 Fascinating & Fun Owl Facts You Never Knew

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The largest owl in the world is the Blakiston’s Fish Owl that you can find in China and Japan. Unfortunately, it’s also the most in danger of extinction if we can’t figure out a way to reverse the current trend. The Eurasian Eagle Owl is the next largest, but you can’t find any of those in America. In the United States, we have to hope to get lucky enough to see the third largest yet extremely elusive Great Grey Owl or the fourth largest Snowy Owl during the winter months.

We hope you have enjoyed reading over this short guide and have learned a few new interesting facts. If we have helped you be better informed, please share our look into the six largest owls in the world on Facebook and Twitter.

Featured Image Credit: Evgeny Kozlovsky, Shutterstock

About the Author Ed Malaker

Ed Malaker is a veteran writer who contributes to a wide range of blogs covering information on computer programming, pets, birding, tools, fitness, guitars, and optics. Outside of writing, Ed is often found working in the garden or performing DIY projects in the house. Ed is also a musician, spending his time composing music for independent films or helping people repair their guitars.