What do owls eat in the wild and at home?

The owl is an amazing bird, about which many of the most amazing legends and stories are told.

Many people like it so much that they decide to have a feathered pet at home. They will be especially useful to know what the owl eats. However, understanding the question will be interesting to other bird lovers.

What do owls eat in the wild?

Answering this question is quite difficult. First of all, because there are about half a thousand species, and many have certain preferences. They live in different climates, have different sizes and habits. Also, the diet of owls can vary greatly depending on the time of year. That is, the same bird eats very different things in summer than it does in winter.

What do owls eat in the spring and fall?

During the warm season, the diet of these birds is quite extensive. Who does the owl eat? It eats a wide variety of animals, birds, and insects – just about anyone small enough not to be able to defend itself. Still, there are certain subtleties. For example, the eagle owl prefers birds and fish. But the diet of a needle-eared owl, which lives mainly in warm countries, consists exclusively of insects.

What do owls eat in the forest in winter?

Winter is a difficult time of year for wild birds. Insects die or hibernate. Many birds fly away to warmer climes. It is almost impossible to find baby animals, and many rodents, which make up a decent part of the diet of owls, lie dormant. There is much less food, so the birds eat whatever prey they can catch.

Primarily small birds and small rodents. Predators hunt mice, often snatching them out of the snow right on the fly. If hunting has not been successful for several days, the bird may attack rather large prey. For example, there are videos and photos on the web that show a relatively small owl eating a hare that weighs as much as it does.

Some species have about the same diet all year round. For example, the snowy or polar owl. It lives in the tundra, where even in summer it is rarely warm. You can’t catch a lot of insects here, so the bird has to eat rodents, such as lemmings, almost all year round.

What species of owls hunt fish?

Quite often bird lovers are interested in the question of whether owls eat fish. It turns out that for some species, fish is the main source of calories. But there are relatively few of them. In the first place, these are:

The rufous fishing owl – lives only in West Africa, such as Liberia, Ghana, Guinea, and some other countries. Its red plumage and dark brown eyes set it apart from its range of relatives.

Pel’s fishing owl – also lives in Africa, but can be found in almost all parts of the continent. The bird is very large, with a wingspan of up to 1.5 meters and a weight of up to 2.3 kg.

Blakiston’s fish owl is the largest bird in the entire family of owls. It lives only in Japan and also in the Far East. Their way of hunting is quite interesting: they fly low over the water capturing small gaping fish. Unlike most “relatives” the owl hunts not only at dusk but also during the day. 

And what does an owl eat if it lives on the coast? Many species are not squeamish about mussels, crabs, and discarded fish.

Do owls eat plant foods?

Ornithologists still have no definitive answer to this question. On the one hand – in tropical countries, you can often see raptors eating exotic fruits. On the other hand, it is not clear whether birds such as the owl or spruce grouse eat plants. After all, their diet is mostly studied by their droppings – you can see bones, hair, insect shells, and other remains of their victims. But plant food, if there is any in the diet, is completely digested.

But the fact that owls can digest grains, grass, and pieces of fruit is certain. We’ve already talked above about what owls eat in the woods, meadows, and tundra. Mostly they are rodents. It is seeds and grass that they eat. Of course, eating rodents, the predator swallows the contents of their stomachs together with them. Therefore, ornithologists reasonably suppose that birds get all necessary vitamins, carbohydrates, and other nutrients necessary for normal development from the stomach contents of their prey.

What do baby owls eat?

It is known that owls do not feed their young with semi-digested food like some other birds. But chicks can’t eat meat yet either. Also, meat does not contain enough calcium – and it is very important for the normal development of the skeleton.

That’s why in the first days of the life of chicks, owls bring them only insects. Their size depends on the species of owl and the region where they live. For example, some feed their young with ants, grasshoppers, and moths. Others are not squeamish about millipedes, spiders, and even scorpions. For example, the tiny elf owl (also known as a cactus owl), feeding it’s young, often brings them scorpions. However, to prevent the prey from harming the offspring, the sting is carefully torn off.

What do owls eat at home?

Before breeding owls in captivity, it is necessarily necessary to understand what owls eat at home. And after that, assess your capabilities, whether it will be possible to provide the pet with a suitable diet.

It is especially difficult to feed wild birds who find themselves in unfamiliar conditions. You need to protect your face and hands, and then just shove small pieces of fresh meat into the birds. The task is not easy, but it’s the only way to keep them from starving to death. Of course, you have to do everything very carefully so as not to harm the feathered pet. After a few days, the bird will realize that living in a cage has certain advantages – starting with safety and ending with abundant food, which does not have to be obtained at risk to life.

There is no way to feed birds just meat. Ideally, they should be fed only the food they are used to in the wild. Mice and small birds like sparrows or starlings would be excellent choices for most raptors. Few can provide them with such food, but you can’t give it up completely either.

Therefore, four days a week owls can be fed meat – best of all cut it into small pieces. The main thing is that it should not be minced meat – a powerful owl’s beak and clawed paws are simply not designed for such nutrition.

Also, twice a week they should be fed with mice – live or pre-mortified. A couple of mice a day is enough to make the average owl feel happy.

Finally, the seventh day should be done unloading, so that the owl does not gain excessive weight due to lack of activity.

It is also advisable for owls to occasionally toss the feathers of any birds into their cage. If they feel a lack of calcium, they will gladly eat them, and at the same time, they will clear their stomach.


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