Do Owls Eat Squirrels? – Get the Answer Now

Owls are opportunistic hunters, and they generally eat whatever type of prey they can find.  

Do owls eat squirrels? Owls will hunt and eat squirrels if they are presented with the opportunity. 

Owls hunt all kinds of rodents and many other small creatures, including squirrels. Some owls are selective with their food and may not eat squirrels unless food supplies become low. Even though some owls may not eat squirrels, there are many that will. Let’s take a closer look in this article.

Do owls eat squirrels at night?

Many people believe that owls only eat squirrels at night. This is not true, owls will eat squirrels during the day and low light hours as well, but they are primarily nocturnal hunters. This means that they do their hunting during the night. The opportunity for an owl to hunt a squirrel may not arise very often as we may think. 

Squirrels are the most active during the daytime and up until right after dusk begins. This gives the majority of most owl species a short window of “realistic opportunity” in hunting squirrels. There are two species of owl that hunt during the day. 

They are the Northern Hawk Owl and the Northern Pygmy Owl. These owls are known as “diurnal” or active both during the day and night with their primary resting period taking place during the night time. 

do owls eat squirrels

Can owls eat and digest squirrels?

Owls cannot digest every part of the food that they eat. This is due to the owl lacking a small organ that allows most birds to store food for later digestion. Instead, an owl’s food passes straight from its gullet and into the gizzard. 

What the bird is unable to digest will be regurgitated in the form of a pellet. This is one of the main ways researchers and scientists study the diet of various species of owls. For example, owls cannot eat the heads of squirrels. The head of a squirrel may either not be ingested or will be regurgitated in pellet form. The study of these “pellets” can confirm many theories about the bird’s behavior and feeding habits.

What types of owls eat squirrels?

There are many species of owls across the globe. Given the opportunity, we learned earlier that owls would be delighted to hunt squirrels depending on their species and tastes, but here are a few species of owls that are well-known to hunt squirrels. 

Barred owls

barred owl

Barred owl experts alike have stated that this beautiful owl is well known for its “Who cooks for you” sounding hoot. They primarily inhabit forested areas across the United States and throughout Canada. 

Screech owls

Eastern Screech Owl

The Eastern Screech Owl is fairly common throughout the Eastern United States areas. They enjoy both wooded forests and even city parks. You will find these birds primarily in mixed-type woods. They hunt usually while sitting perched in a tree and then swoop in on their prey. Screech owls are capable of locating their prey using both sight and sound to aid them. 

Tawny owls

tawny owl

The Tawny Owl is very commonly referred to as the “Brown Owl.” They are medium-sized owls that are found primarily in the wooded areas of Asia, Europe, and even Africa. You can recognize this owl by its large and distinctly round-shaped head that lacks any ears. 

Snowy owls

snowy owl

The Snowy Owl goes by a few names such as the “White Owl,” or the “Polar Owl” which is the largest North American owl that is also considered a “True Owl.” They are found throughout the northern regions of America, primarily in Canada. 

Do baby owls eat squirrels?

Juvenile owls known as “owlets” will eat the same thing that their parents eat. When the owlet is very young it will eat a regurgitated form of whatever its parents caught. This means that even baby owls are capable of eating squirrels as long as it has already been hunted and previously eaten. 

Owlets may be able to eat anything they can find in or near their nest, but do not typically leave the nest and care for themselves until they are roughly a few weeks to a few months old.

The smaller owl species have a tendency to leave the nest before the larger owl species. Most species of owl would be capable of hunting a squirrel by itself around a month old to a month and a half old.

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