do owls eat baby birds

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The great horned owl (Bubo virginianus)

One of the largest owl species in America is the great horned owl. It is a formidable and shrewd predator that consumes a wide range of distinct prey items. Throughout the majority of their range, mammals are these birds’ primary food source; however, in certain places, birds make up as much as 10% of their diet.

The diet of great horned owls has been observed to include the following bird species:

  • Waterbirds like duckes, grebes, and coots
  • Great blue heron
  • Smaller owl species
  • Prairie and peregrine falcons
  • Ospreys
  • European starlings
  • Pigeons
  • Northern bobwhite
  • Ring-necked pheasant
  • Domestic chickens

Great Horned Owls can occasionally only eat birds.

How do owls hunt other birds?

Because they hunt at night, owls are challenging to watch as they hunt other birds. Fortunately, by analyzing the pellets that owls regurgitate, ornithologists have learned a great deal about what they eat.

The indigestible components of an owl’s diet, such as fur, feathers, bones, and bills, are included in these pellets—the owl equivalent of a fur-ball!

Owls hunt other birds in many ways. The most vulnerable birds are those that sleep outside and roost in the open; birds that are incubating eggs on nests are also targeted. Owls will also take young birds out of their nests. You can hunt other nocturnal birds at night, such as owls. Certain owls, such as the snowy owl, are known to hunt actively during the day and have even been observed to pursue soaring birds.

Although owls have extraordinary hearing, their keen sense of sight is most likely what helps them hunt other birds. In addition to their acute senses, owls possess specially designed flight feathers that enable them to silently dive in and take their prey by surprise. They can then use their bill and razor-sharp talons to kill their prey.

Snowy owls are known to sometimes chase down birds

The snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus)

Another opportunistic species that often preys on other birds is the snowy owl. During the breeding season, these large owls tend to concentrate on mammals such as voles and lemmings, but during the winter months, birds become more significant.

Several bird species, including the following ones, are part of the snowy owl’s diet:

  • Canada geese
  • Eider ducks
  • Red phalaropes
  • Great blue heron
  • Songbirds and small shorebirds
  • To find out more about other American owls that consume birds, continue reading.


Do owls eat tiny birds?

Owls eat a variety of small animals, including mice, rats, frogs, birds, squirrels, snakes, fish, and lizards. They often swallow these prey whole.

Do owls eat birds at night?

Not All Owls Are Nocturnal Feeders In western mountain forests, Northern Pygmy-Owls hunt small birds during the day, and although they mostly hunt at night, Burrowing Owls are often seen outside their burrows in daylight. Some others are crepuscular, active during the twilight hours of dawn and dusk.

Can an owl pick up a 20 pound dog?

A great horned owl might make a pass at your dog just out of curiosity, but it is very unlikely that it would actually fly away with it. Great horned owls are skilled predators, but their culinary tastes run to rodents, birds, snakes, rabbits and insects. Their lifting capacity is about five pounds.

Do barred owls eat baby birds?

Barred Owls are generalists and opportunistic predators. Small mammals and rabbits make up most of their diet, but they also eat birds up to the size of grouse, amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates.