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Do Owls Eat Birds?

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Owls are nocturnal birds known for being spooky with their menacing eyes and shrill shriek. They also have an uncanny stance that only makes them more like the stuff of Halloween.

Besides being an unsettling group of birds, owls are birds of prey— they hunt, kill, and eat other animals. We are not the only ones that think owls are scary; the animals they prey on must think so, too. Owls commonly feed on invertebrates and small animals, but do they go after birds?

Owls do eat birds. The size of bird an owl might hunt depends a lot on both the owls size as well as how accustomed it is to eating birds. Small owls are less likely to prey on birds than larger owls.

A barred owl in the tree

There are many owl species, with a wide range of sizes.

Generally, smaller species of owls hunt smaller prey such as rodents and insects, while larger species go after bigger prey like birds and rabbits.

Also, adult owls are more likely to go after larger animals than younger owls.

Do Owls Eat Other Birds?

What Owls Eat

Being birds of prey, owls eat different animals, from earthworms, fish, spiders, rats, snakes, lizards, snails, frogs, to cats, rabbits, and birds.

While there is no real restriction on the type of animal an owl can feed on, some species of owls are more likely to feed on certain animals than other species.

Small owls, like the scop owl, are more likely to prey on insects such as grasshoppers, moths, caterpillars, spiders, and cicadas.

Barn owls are another group of relatively small owls. They typically focus on rodents such as rats, voles, hares, shrews, and rabbits.

Some owls become predisposed to feeding on certain animals because of their habitat. Of such owls are the African Fishing Owls and the Asian Fish Owls. As the names suggest, these species are the expert fishers amongst the owl species.

The eagle owl is one of the largest species, with the capability to eat animals such as fox, birds, and other small mammals.

What Birds Do Owls Eat

Believe it or not, owls do not care if an animal has feathers as they do; they eat various types of birds when they have the chance. Bigger owls may even eat the smaller owls.

Hungry eurasian scops owl with yellow eyes eating green insect on branch in darkness

Below are some species of owls and the birds they eat:

Great Horned Owls

These are large owls capable of eating birds like rock pigeons, mallards, osprey, American crows, American coots, geese, and grouse.

Burrowing Owls

These unique owls eat waterbirds, blackbirds, and songbirds.

Snowy Owls

Snowy owls eat Canada goose, ptarmigan, great blue heron, peregrine falcon, and seabirds.

Barn Owls

Barn owls eat birds only occasionally. When they do, you’ll find them eating birds such as blackbirds, starlings, marsh wrens, and meadowlarks.

Northern Hawk Owls

Northern Hawk Owl with Open Wings Perched on Top of the Tree on Blue Sky

This class of owls commonly goes after small rodents, but they also feast on birds. Some birds they will eat include robins, jays, doves, buntings, ptarmigan, starlings, grouse, and partridges.

Eastern Screech-Owls

Eastern screech-owls will hunt small birds such as blue jays, European starlings, titmice, mockingbirds, cuckoos, chickadees, thrushes, creepers, finches, and woodpeckers.

Many of their targets are songbirds; you’ll hear them making noisy calls at Eastern screech-owls as a way to dissuade them.

Short-Eared Owls

Primarily, these owls go after voles and other rodents. But sometimes they’ll catch terns, rails, sandpipers, gulls, plovers, and passerines.

Long-Eared Owls

You’ll most likely find long-eared owls hunting small mammals such as mice and voles. But they can also eat small birds such as ruffed grouse and passerine.

Northern Pygmy-Owls

When the weather is warm, northern pygmy-owls will eat grasshoppers, cicadas, beetles, and other large insects. They also eat rodents, reptiles, and smaller birds such as swallows, starlings, finches, wrens, creepers, hummingbirds, and warblers.

Spectacled Owls

Little owl chick hiding in the branches of a tree and looking at the camera.

Spectacled owls go after small mammals and birds. The birds they prey on include motmots and jays.

Northern Saw-Whet Owls

These owls usually go after mice and small rodents also. But they can eat birds like pine siskins, flycatchers, and golden-crowned kinglets.

African Grass Owls

The African grass owl fancies a meal of vlei-rat. But you may also find it going after black crake and African snipe.

Boreal Owls

Boreal owls eat woodpeckers, chickadee, warblers, and thrushes.

Owls eat different types of birds, most of which are smaller than them. They eat omnivores and herbivores, but rarely carnivorous bird species. The omnivores they eat are those that feed on only invertebrates like insects and worms.

Eagle Owl Eating Small Chicken

Will Owls Eat Baby Birds

Owls like the Great Horned Owls, Barn Owls, and Screech-Owls have been noted to sometimes eat their owlets for various reasons.

Of course, if they eat their own hatchlings, they will definitely eat the young of other birds. But they are more likely to eat the offspring of the birds they normally prey on.

Babies of other birds of prey are less accessible to them.

Twenty-Nine Animals That Are Part of an Owl’s Normal Diet

  1. Beetles
  2. Crayfish
  3. Moths
  4. Centipedes
  5. Scorpions
  6. Crickets
  7. Grasshoppers
  8. Mice
  9. Voles
  10. Shrews
  11. Raccoons
  12. Rabbits
  13. Cats
  14. Frogs
  15. Lizards
  16. Falcons
  17. Puppies
  18. Squirrels
  19. Bats
  20. Goose
  21. Chickadees
  22. Grouse
  23. Ducks
  24. Snakes
  25. Rats
  26. Spiders
  27. Snails
  28. Butterflies
  29. Toads


Owls do eat birds, and occasionally, larger owl species will prey on species of smaller owls. As predators, their size is the main factor that determines the type of birds they eat. Besides their size, an owl’s environment and species are also factors.


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