What Eats Owls? 7 Predators That Eat Owls

  • Reading time:18 mins read
  • Post last modified:October 12, 2023

Owl flying scared

What Eats Owls?

You’d assume that since owls fly quietly and have formidable talons, they’d be preyed upon by predators looking for something to eat. Although determined by the size of the owl, its habitat, and its species, there are some predators that prey on this gorgeous animal.

Many individuals assume that because the owls are nocturnal, there aren’t many predators around to hunt them because they are sleeping in the night.

Do You Know What Animals Eat Owls?

If you were to ask your local zookeeper or any animal expert, they may just tell you that animals that eat owls are mostly all birds of prey, such as hawks and eagles and maybe even vultures if they’re lucky! But, that answer isn’t quite right.

These are the 07 animals that eat owls (you won’t believe what’s on this list)!

In this article, we’ll go through a number of the owl’s natural predators. You might be shocked at how many species there are in the wild that pose a threat to the owl’s survival, and this is something to think about.

The following are the top seven animals that prey on owls:

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1. The Foxes

While the majority of foxes choose to kill and eat smaller creatures like rodents such as mice and rats as well as the rare squirrel, and even rabbits, if the opportunity presents itself, they will also hunt and consume owls.


The likelihood that a fox will hunt and kill an owl is dependent on a number of factors, including the time of year and whether or not owls are available for hunting.

A large proportion of fox-owl encounters occur during the spring and summer months, when the fox itself has young to care for. Adult foxes rarely eat birds themselves, but they will provide food for their young.

2. Prowling Cats

Although even the most determined feline will have difficulty taking down an owl, a prowling cat can simply run across a nest and murder the eggs and small hatchlings within minutes. This occurs primarily while the owl is not protecting the nest, which it cannot do all of the time due to its size.

Prowling Cats

Bobcats, in particular, will go after the eggs, but they must do so in stealth because a fully grown owl can easily take down a cat and kill it if its young are in danger from the cat.

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3. Eagles

Adult owls aren’t commonly hunted, but there are several large birds out there that can give the owl a fight for its money, such as the eagle. Owls are not among the prey of the Eagle, but the Eagle is among those who hunt owls. On rare occasions, Owls have been known to attack and kill Eagles.


Despite the fact that the Eagle is far larger and stronger than the owl, they are not bothered by them until they are provoked. In spite of the fact that it is larger, the owl has an advantage over the eagle in that owls have inherent camouflage.

The most serious disagreement between these birds is for territory, and one will fight the other when it comes to their respective nests.

It is possible to find some owls that are a good match for the Eagle’s hunting style. In a fight to the death, on the other hand, they would both have an equal chance of winning or losing the battle.

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The majority of conflicts between these two species are not caused by one bird attempting to consume the other; rather, they are caused by territorial disputes.

4. Hawks

The Hawk is yet another bird that has no qualms about attempting to take on an owl. Hawks, like the owl, are at the top of the food chain and are considered to be birds of prey. Despite the fact that the majority of their territorial disputes involve owls, hawks generally avoid attacking them if at all possible.


However, if a battle does break out, they are quite evenly matched in terms of strength and stamina. Hawks, on the other hand, can hunt on the smaller owls. Hawks, like the eagle, do not typically attack owls with the intent of eating them.

The majority of the time, the conflict is for nesting sites and territory. In fact, because the owl is such a powerful creature to begin with, most birds will simply find another place to nest rather than fighting it.

5. Other Owls

Even within their own species, owls are fiercely protective of their territory. Even though they are depicted in folklore as wise elderly owls who are majestic, these birds can be hazardous to one another when they are in a group.

Whereas the concept of eating one’s own species is unsettling to us, owls are used to doing it on a consistent basis.

Long-eared owls

Other owl species are known to be killed or eaten by certain owl species, such as the Great Horned Owl and Snowy Owl, for example. Some of those species are listed below:

  • Short-eared owls
  • Barred owls
  • Long-eared owls
  • Burrowing owls
  • Eastern screech owls

These are only a few examples, but you get the idea. These aren’t the only owl species that compete with one another for food. Cannibalistic behavior has also been observed in the Saw-whet owl and the Northern Hawk owl, among other species.

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In spite of the fact that this violent predator is known to attack and consume members of their own species, it is rarely done out of necessity, despite the fact that food is a motivating factor in the behavior of this bird.

The majority of the time, it’s a territorial issue, as having too many owls in one area depletes the food supply if there are too many.

6. Bears

Because owls can be found in practically every corner of the earth, it is reasonable to assume that they will come up against some tough adversaries. Bears happen to be one of those ferocious predators who prey on humans.


Many predators are kept at bay by the owl’s quick and crafty movements, but this is not always the case with bears, who are more opportunistic. It goes without saying that, when an owl is assaulted, he will defend his nest to the death with everything he has.

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Bears, on the other hand, are quite powerful, and it is not uncommon for the owl to end up as the bear’s supper rather than chasing it away.

7. Humans

Even though people are not known for eating owls, they are the most deadly and lethal predators an owl can encounter in addition to the natural predators mentioned above.

Humans pose a threat to owls in a variety of ways, including shooting the birds, erecting electricity lines, hitting the birds with automobiles, and causing environmental damage.

Human Hunter

Things like barbed wire, structures in their natural habitats, and widespread noise pollution all pose a threat to the owl’s survival, and all of these things have been conceived and produced by humans.

Due to the fact that owls cannot see through windows, they collide with them at high speeds, making them the number one murderer of the species.

How Do Owls Protect Themselves?

As a result of our knowledge of the top seven predators that may cause harm to owls and even consume them, you may be asking how an owl fights itself against these natural predators. Continue reading for a brief description of the situation.

The razor-sharp claws and super-strong beaks of the owl serve as the animal’s primary line of defence. In addition to using them to kill their prey, owls will use them to defend themselves and their nests.

Owls also have natural camouflage, which makes it impossible for predators to detect them until they are right up on the owl’s back, at which point it is already too late. Additionally, owls are extremely stealthy birds, which makes it easier for them to avoid being caught by predators.

There are times, though, when an owl will lose a battle against a more formidable opponent. The mortality rate for owls is reported to be 50% after only one year of separation from their nests.

Whatever the reason, the majestic owl does not always come out on top, whether it is due to malnutrition as a result of their inability to obtain prey or other factors.

Take Away Message

This finishes our examination of the predators that prey on owls, as well as other predators that do not prey on owls but are still a very significant threat to this beautiful bird.

So, whether it’s a hawk or a human, a bear or a fox, there are predators out there who, despite the fact that the owl is one of the toughest birds on the planet, can still bring him down if the circumstances are right for them.

FAQ About What Eats Owls

Do Hawks Eat Owls?

Hawks are known for their sharp eyesight and speed in flight. Hawks are commonly referred to as raptors, which is short for bird of prey. These birds hunt small mammals, like owls. They use their talons to catch prey and then bring it back to a perch to rip apart with their beaks. Large bird of prey, including eagles and hawks are known for occasionally preying on small owls such as pygmy owl or screech owl.

Do Snakes Eat Owls?

Some snake species hunt and feed upon owls, but they do so only opportunistically. Even snakes with diets predominantly composed of birds can rarely be credited with exclusively preying upon owls. In North America, two genera of large colubrid snakes—the eastern racers (Coluber) and king/gopher snakes (Lampropeltis)—have been recorded to prey upon burrowing owls and great horned owls.

Do Pigs Eat Owls?

Pigs are omnivores who eat anything and everything in their path, including insects, mice, eggs, and other small animals such as owls if get the opportunity. Wild boars (and their domesticated cousins) will also hunt small mammals and even an owl or two. While they can be quite dangerous to humans when provoked, a domestic pig has been known to kill a number of birds of prey.

Do Eagles Eat Owls?

Eagles are massive birds of prey with wingspans as wide as seven feet. Their legs are thick, muscular and feathered. Eagles are a type of bird in a group known as raptors. Raptors (which also include falcons, hawks, and vultures) are sometimes described as birds of prey because they hunt other animals for food.

In most cases, however, these birds do not actually eat their prey. Instead, they generally swallow their food whole—regurgitating it later so it can be used to feed their young.

They kill small birds, snakes, small mammals and even owls by swooping down onto their target and shredding it with their talons before ripping it apart with their beaks. Being nocturnal predators, eagles hunt mostly in darkness, making them reliant on acute senses of sight and hearing to find food.

Do Vultures Eat Owls?

Well, do vultures eat owls? The simple answer is no, vultures don’t really feast on our feathered friends. I guess if they wanted to, they could—but even at times when there isn’t a dead animal in sight, these birds will often forgo eating for days.

Most people think of vultures as disgusting and ugly creatures but did you know that these birds are actually scavengers? Vultures don’t build nests, instead they lay their eggs on cliffs or trees, these eggs are usually abandoned from another animal and just happen to be in an area where a Vulture can find it.

Do Foxes Eat Owls?

The red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is a carnivorous animal which has been introduced as a destructive pest to many parts of North America. It is known for having killed off nearly 90% of Eurasian rabbits in less than a century and it’s also notorious for being one of Earth’s top predators, especially when it comes to catching and killing small birds, rodents, fish, deer, rabbits and hares.

Do Wild Cats Eat Owls?

The African serval, caracal, and leopard are all known to hunt owls. These felines can easily overpower an owl in a one-on-one fight. While leopards are known to hunt owls for their fur, these cats also enjoy a good meal of owl at other times of year. Due to their large size and remarkable speed, these wild cats aren’t much of a threat to adult owls but could kill very young owlets.

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