This order is made up of two families: Strigidae (the ‘typical’ owl) and Tytonidae (the barn owls).
Within those two families are 27 different genera (2 within Tytonidae and the other 25 within Strigidae), which have over 200 species between them. They can be found on every continent (except Antarctica), the extreme North Pole, and some islands.
These are the nocturnal birds of prey–which means that most of them hunt during the darkest parts of the night. Though there are some that will hunt at dusk, dawn, and even during the day. Two of the species that are active during the day include the northern hawk-owl and the burrowing owl.
In terms of morphology, members of this order have a broad head, binocular vision, binaural hearing, sharp talons, and feathers that have been adapted for silent flight. The binaural hearing and feathers are what have made them exceptional at nocturnal hunting.
In terms of diet–the diet is as varied as the number of species. All owls catch live prey (though some will occasionally eat carrion). The live prey can vary from insects to amphibians, snakes, lizards, and rodents. Some of the larger owls will also hunt larger mammals such as rabbits, hares, and monkeys (if they’re in the tropics). Only a few species of owls will actually prey on other birds.
Within the US/Canada/Mexico area the following owls can be spotted:
Barn Owl (only member of the family Tytonidae)
Great horned owl
Great grey owl
Northern Saw-whet owl
Whiskered screech owl
Eastern screech owl
Western screech owl
Northern Hawk owl
Photography goal: Get a picture of a barn owl, and then a picture of at least one other owl (if not all) that are found within North America. Bonus goal would be getting a picture of an owl on other continents as well.