Because adult owls have powerful talons and silent flight, they rarely find themselves as a tasty meal to anyone. Rarely is the keyword as owls typically rest on top of food chains. They don’t have many natural predators, but there are a few surprising owl predators including other owls, with a baby or injured owls the most susceptible.
So, what animals eat owls? Read on.
Animals That Eat Owls
Following are the known predators of owls:
Owlets or baby owls and eggs are the usual victims of foraging predators like big and small prowling cats, weasels, raccoons, and skunks, among others. These predators find eggs and young owls as tasty treats and often focus on these hapless victims to ensure a successful hunt.
While adult owls are not often hunted, bigger birds like eagles and even other owls can prey on them. This is usually the result of a territorial dispute. Disputes with other birds of prey often result in death or injury.
Expert Tip: With the constant human development and destruction of their habitat, more and more birds are now competing for the same territory and resources. Thus, disputes have become a bigger threat to most owls.
While owls themselves are excellent birds of prey, it doesn’t mean they’re safe from other birds of prey such as hawks. Like owls, hawks also sit at the top of the food chain. Often, the clashes that arise between them are because of territorial disputes, and not predatory in nature.
Because owls fly silently and they are naturally strong, it is rare that they are attacked and eaten by hawks, though it is not impossible. In most cases, hawks opt to look for other territories to own, instead of fighting it out with owls.
Adult owls can defend themselves from foxes using their sharp and powerful talons. They will not think twice about attacking foxes if necessary. However, the same cannot be said of unattended nests where owlets and eggs are often left alone.
This is the opportunity that prowling mammals are looking for. Foxes will not hesitate to invade unattended nests and devour both owlets and eggs.
Because owls thrive almost anywhere in the world and in many different habitats, their territories often overlap with those of many other formidable predators, including bears.
Although they have swift and adept movements that help them avoid becoming tasty meals for many predators, they cannot always evade altercations with bears.
Expert Tip: When attacked by a bear, an adult owl will aggressively defend its nest. In some cases, owls are successful in driving their bigger predators away. However, when they fail to do that, they often become a food source for big and hungry bears.
In some cases, owls can be both prey and predator. Because they are high up in the food chain, owls are blessed with a wide array of food choices, unlike smaller birds. Their diet often consists of food that is readily available in their environment, so it depends on where they live.
Depending on the availability, owls may feed on rodents, snakes, small mammals, worms, and bugs. But, there are owl species that will not hesitate to make a meal out of smaller owls when other food sources are scarce.
Aside from the natural owl predators mentioned above, perhaps the biggest threat to the owl population is posed by humans. Considering that most humans have high regard for owls and consider them an icon of wisdom, this is ironic.
While there are humans that consume owls, what depletes their population the most is the destruction of their natural habitats by humans. People destroy their homes and drive them away to other territories, forcing owls to fight for smaller spaces that sometimes result in dire consequences.
The fact that they are formidable predators themselves doesn’t necessarily mean that owls are safe from being hunted. Although not many, there are some natural owl predators, especially the baby and weak owls. These include large birds of prey like eagles and hawks, foraging mammals, bears, foxes, and humans.
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