6 Owls With Yellow Eyes: Explained In Detail

Different species of owls have different eye colours yellow, orange, dark brown or black. 

These colours also have different characteristics as they provide an owl to become more active at any time of the day. 

In this article, we are going to discuss 6 owls with yellow eyes and we’ll try to understand the reason behind their yellow eyes colour. 

6 Species of Owl With Yellow Eyes: 

Burrowing Owl

  • Scientific name: Athene cunicularia
  • Size of an adult: 19-25 cm in length
  • Weight of an adult: 150gm
  • Wingspan: 55cm 
  • Appearance: They are a small species of owl with sandy-coloured feathers and bright yellow-coloured eyes. 
  • Native place: Found in the open landscapes of North and South America. 
  • Habitat: They can be found anywhere including grasslands, sparse vegetation areas, deserts, wild forests, and urban environments like embankments, cemeteries, airports, and vacant places. But they stay in burrows made by them or prairie dogs. 
  • Food: These owls mainly feed on lizards, birds, small mammals and insects like grasshoppers, crickets, dragonflies, etc. 
  • Nesting period: The mating pairs generally burrow together where they lay 4-12 eggs and newborns are covered with greyish white down, eyes closed, after hatching.
  • Hunting: They can hunt at all hours of day and night since they stay close to the ground. They can fly but prefer to catch prey near the ground. 

Great Grey Owl

  • Scientific name: Strix nebulosa
  • Size of an adult: 60-84cm in length
  • Weight of an adult: 700-1700gm
  • Wingspan: 135-155cm
  • Appearance: Tall and big structure with a large round head, covered with white, grey and brown feathers and yellow eyes. Around the neck is a white bow tie-shaped part with a black centre.
  • Native place: Found entirely across the countries in the northern hemisphere. 
  • Habitat: Wet and evergreen forests in Canada, pine and fir forests in the USA, woodlands and deciduous evergreen forests in California. 
  • Food: Small mammals like mice, moles, chipmunks, lemmings, etc. 
  • Nesting period: They don’t build their own nests but use one’s leftovers from ravens, and western grey squirrels. They lay 2-5 eggs and the babies are born covered with fluffy down and closed eyes. 
  • Hunting: They hunt during the night and generally feed on small mammals.

Northern Saw-whet Owl

  • Scientific name: Aegolius acadicus
  • Size of an adult: 18-21 cm in length
  • Weight of an adult: 65-151gm 
  • Wingspan: 42-48 cm 
  • Appearance: One of the smallest owls, with a round head but no ear feathers. Mottled white and brown feathers cover the body with a white v between the forehead and bright yellow eyes. 
  • Native place: North America
  • Habitat: Thick deciduous forests.
  • Food: Mostly feeds on small mammals like mice, moles, squirrels, chipmunks, and bats. 
  • Nesting period: They find previously excavated holes made by woodpeckers and make debris of grass, moss, woodchips, and leaves and lay 4-7 eggs. The babies are born covered with white down and closed eyes. 
  • Hunting: They hunt at night and feed on mammals. 

Short-eared Owl

  • Scientific name: Asio flammeus
  • Size of an adult: 34-43 cm in length.
  • Weight of an adult: 205-475 gm
  • Wingspan: 85-105 cm 
  • Appearance: They are medium-sized owls with round heads and tiny ears and covered with dark brown or black feathers throughout. They have bright yellow eyes. 
  • Native place: Found in all countries except Australia and Antarctica. 
  • Habitat: Resides in large open areas with low vegetation. 
  • Food: Small mammals like rabbits, rats, moles, squirrels, and bats. 
  • Nesting period: Build their nest on the ground among grasses and small plants, and atop the new nest on the one used in the previous year. The female lays 1-11 eggs and the babies are born covered with white and buff coloured feathers and eyes closed. 
  • Hunting: They are active during all hours of day and night and hunt accordingly. 

Great Horned Owl

  • Scientific name: Bubo virginianus.
  • Size of an adult: 45-65cm in length. 
  • Weight of an adult: 900-2500 gm.
  • Wingspan: 100-145 cm. 
  • Appearance: Large species of owl with large ear tufts and yellow eyes. The colour of facial discs varies from one to another, from grey to cinnamon. 
  • Native place: All around the USA. 
  • Habitat: They reside in medium-grown woodlands like agricultural areas, orchards, and swamps. 
  • Food: They are mostly diversified in eating from small reptiles like mice to large mammals like house cats, and porcupines. 
  • Nesting period: They nest on big trees built by other birds. They usually lay 1-4 eggs and the babies are born with closed eyes and covered with white down in only the upper portion. 
  • Hunting: They are nocturnal hunters but if they feel hungry, can also hunt nearby during the daytime.

The Snowy Owl

  • Scientific name: Bubo scandiacus.
  • Size of an adult: 50-70cm in length.
  • Weight of an adult: 1600-3000gm
  • Wingspan: 125-145 cm
  • Appearance: Large white species of owl with yellow eyes. Sometimes they have brown spots. 
  • Native place: Arctic region of North America and tundra areas.
  • Habitat: Wide open spaces in the cold tundra region. 
  • Food: Small mammals particularly lemmings and also rabbits, seabirds, squirrels, and weasels. 
  • Nesting period: They build the nest in areas that are dry and free of snow. They lay about 3-11 eggs and the babies during birth have fluffy white feathers. 
  • Hunting: They are active all the time. 

Why do Owls have Yellow Eyes?

Some research shows that yellow eyes make them active during the daytime. But this is not entirely true because the colours of the eyes vary among different species.

Here we have discussed 6 species of owls that are active during different parts of the day.

One important fact with these owls is that the bright yellow colour of the eyes appears to be red if any light reflects during the nighttime. 

What can an owl’s eye colour indicate?

The eye colour generally indicates what part of the day they’re generally active in the most.

The yellow colour states that they’re active mostly during the day, the orange states they are active during dusk and dawn and the dark brown or black states that they are nocturnal.

Some people associate these eye colours with various bad omens and negative vibes. But those eye colours are natural phenomena nothing else.

Do all owls have yellow eyes?

All owl species have different colours of eyes like yellow, bright yellow, orange, dark brown, black, and red.

The red colour is very rare and happens if the owl has albinism, which is a lack of melanin pigment in the body and the red colour is due to the blood vessels of the eyes. 


This was our short guide on the eye colour of owls. I hope this article may have helped you in some ways.

Thanks for reading! 

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