Ural owl portrait

Earless owls

You might think that all owl species lacking ear tufts would be classified as earless owls, but that isn't the case. The name is applied to 15 medium to large owl species in the typical owl family with ear openings buried beneath feathers. Earless owls are also known as wood owls. They inhabit woodlands and forests, where they prey on small mammals , birds and reptiles. The earless owls include the reclusive great grey owl of the taiga and the tawny owl. The tawny owl is the most common and widespread British owl with its classic 'twit-twooo' call.

Scientific name: Strix

Rank: Genus

Common names:

Wood owls


Map showing the distribution of the Earless owls taxa

The shading illustrates the diversity of this group - the darker the colour the greater the number of species. Data provided by WWF's Wildfinder.

Explore this group


The following habitats are found across the Earless owls distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.


Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

BBC News about Earless owls