Papers in the Biological Sciences


Date of this Version



Paul A. Johnsgard, North American Owls: Biology and Natural History, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington and London, 1988.


Copyright © 1988 by the Smithsonian Institution. Copyright © 2014 Paul Johnsgard. All rights are reserved.


Foreword by Robert W. Nero 9
Preface 11

Comparative Biology of Owls 15
Evolution and Classification of North American Owls 17
Comparative Ecology and Distribution 25
Comparative Morphology and Physiology 37
Comparative Behavior 55
Comparative Reproductive Biology 71
Owls in Myth and Legend 85

Natural Histories of North American Owls

Family Tytonidae 95
Common Barn-owl

Family Strigidae 105
Flammulated Owl
Eastern Screech-owl
Western Screech-owl
Whiskered Screech-owl
Great Horned Owl
Snowy Owl
Northern Hawk-owl
Northern Pygmy-owl
Ferruginous Pygmy-owl
Elf Owl
Burrowing Owl
Spotted Owl
Barred Owl
Great Gray Owl
Long-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl
Boreal Owl
Northern Saw-whet Owl

Key to Genera and Species of North American Owls 239
Key to Structural Variations in External Ears of North American Owls 243
Advertisement and Other Typical Calls of North American Owls 245
Origins of Scientific and Vernacular Names of North American Owls 251
Glossary 255
References 271
Index 291

Includes 33 color plates.

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