Photo of flying short-eared owl

Iowa is home to nine different owl species. You might not have seen all of them before, however, as two are state endangered — the short-eared owl and the barn owl — and one is state threatened — the long-eared owl. Let’s take a look at some of the most interesting facts at each species,…

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Photo of a short-eared owl on the ground

You may not have even heard of the short-eared owl (Asio flammeus), because it is not common in Iowa. Although it is widely distributed throughout North America and is one of the world’s most distributed owls, it is endangered in the state of Iowa. Their “ears” are hard to see. One would think with “ears”…

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Photo of Great Plains toad

We love the animal ambassadors at the Dickinson County Nature Center! Here are some reasons why: 1. Pinki’s irridescent hair Pink is the perfect color for Valentine’s Day, so Pinki the tarantula fits right in. She has irridescent pink hairs that were the reason her species was named Chilean rose-haired tarantula. Those hairs are more…

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Photo of a long-eared owl in a tree

They might be called the long-eared owl (Asio otus), but you actually can’t see their ears. Instead, this state-threatened owl has feathered tufts on top of its head that look like it has long, pointy ears. They have a loud call. Like the great-horned owl, the long-eared owl has a hoot, like we expect from…

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Photo of a burrowing owl by a burrow

The burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia) is certainly an independent creatures amidst Iowa’s other eight owl species. It looks like an owl, but it acts a bit different than others that we have addressed in our Owls of Iowa series. Here are some interesting facts about the burrowing owl: It does indeed burrow. We expect owls…

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Photo of a snowy owl flying

Snowy owls are not constant winter guests in Iowa. Their behavior is known as irruptive, which means they might appear in some winters and not in others. That means that when a snowy owl is spotted, it’s a big deal. Let’s check out some reasons why snowy owls are such a neat bird. 1. Large…

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Photo of a baby hedgehog

Many people ask if the hedgehog animal ambassador at the Dickinson County Nature Center is related to a porcupine. However, hedgehogs and porcupines aren’t actually related at all. There are 17 different species of hedgehogs, and their closest relations are actually shrews and moles. There are more than two dozen species of porcupines in the…

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Even without the tufts of the great horned owl, barred owls (Strix varia) still have that classic owl shape and are easily diagnosed as owls from far away. Their haunting black eyes make them a beautiful addition to the owls of Iowa series. Who cooks for you? The barred owl has one of the most…

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Photo of a barn owl's face

  We’ve talked about the large great horned owl, tiny northern saw-whet owl and adorable eastern screech owl, so this week we moved on to the state endangered barn owl. Barn owls are not federally endangered but their populations are low in Iowa. That could be because of habitat loss and prey loss because of…

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Photo of an eastern screech owl

They are called the eastern screech owl (Megascops asio), but that doesn’t mean all you’ll hear from them is screeches. Typically, these small owls only screech when they are defending their nest or fledglings. Otherwise, you will hear a variety of calls, including trills, whinnies, hoots and barks. They even make a clacking sound by…

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