As we know, most owls are nocturnal. There are also many crepuscular owls, meaning they are active during dawn and dusk. Diurnal owls are a pretty exclusive category though, as there are only two truly diurnal owls, the Northern Pygmy Owl and the Northern Hawk Owl.
The Northern Pygmy Owl
They definitely live up to the “Pygmy” designation though, as they only grow to be just under 6 inches long.
Unlike their nocturnal brethren who silently take flight to prowl for food in the night, the Northern Pygmy Owl prefers to sit and wait during the day for an opportunity to present itself. They wait in branches, watching for prey, and are known to snatch insects and small birds mid-air.
The Northern Hawk Owl
Unlike the Northern Pygmy Owl, the Northern Hawk Owl does indeed live up to its “Northern” designation. It is found around the world in the Taiga, or boreal forest. This owl can be found in the Northern parts of North American (mostly in Canada), Europe (mostly in Scandanavia), Eurasia (in Russia) and Asia (mostly in China). This owl has also been known to creep southward into the northern parts of the United States and into Great Britain in times when prey is plentiful.
Size-wise, this owl can reach sizes ranging from 14 to 16 inches with the females being slightly larger than the males.
This diurnal owl hunts much the same way as its little Pygmy cousin in that it waits and observes the area for prey. It mostly feeds on small to medium sized mammals but is also known to feed on birds which it can catch mid-flight. Due to its superb hearing, this owl can also locate animals under the snow, and can dive straight into the snow to snatch prey that is lying beneath.
There you have it, a nice overview of the only two known diurnal species of owls. If you have any questions feel free to contact me or leave a comment below.