Owls are generally characterized as being birds of prey of the order Strigiformes. Most owls are nocturnal, with a few exceptions. Many owls hunt during the night, while others hunt during the day. While taxonomic classifications of some presumed owl species are still under question, it has been accepted that 216 species of owls exist today, and of these 216 species, 18 belong to the Barn Owl family (Tytonidae) and 198 belong to the typical owl family (Strigidae).

Barn Owl

Barn Owl Long-eared Owl
Barred Owl Northern Hawk Owl
Eagle Owl Short-eared Owl
Elf Owl Snowy Owl
Great Gray Owl Spectacled Owl
Barn Owls typically exhibit heart-shaped facial discs (the area surrounding the eyes, beak and face of an owl) and lack ear tufts. Typical owls of the Strigidae family have round-shaped facial discs and often have shorter skull, beak, legs and wings than the Barn Owls. Both families of owls exhibit monogamy in mate choice, and are carnivorous. Species of Barn Owls prey on small mammals and sometimes birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects, while the typical owls feed on a large selection of invertebrates and vertebrates. Both families catch prey with the sharp talons of their feet.

The distribution of Barn Owls is primarily Australasia (also known as Oceania, which includes New Zealand, Tasmania, Malaysia and many others). Due to its high number of species, the distribution of the typical owl family is widespread, reaching all continents besides Antarctica, and the majority of species reside in the tropics.