What Do Owls Eat?

A short ear owl standing on the grass.
••• Comstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Silent predators that seek out their game mostly at night, owls consume living prey suited to the size of the owl. Built to hunt, owls have good eyesight and hearing, sound-muffling feathers, hooked beaks and sharp claws. Over 200 species of owls range from sparrow- to eagle-sized birds. Owls eat insects, spiders, scorpions, other invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians, fish, birds and mammals such as mice and rats. You can tell what many owls eat by identifying bones, fur, feathers and insect parts contained in regurgitated owl pellets.

Small Owls

Small owls usually include insects and other invertebrates in their diet. Eastern screech owls in Kentucky ate crayfish and beetles along with shrews, voles, mice and birds. Sparrow-sized elf owls capture scorpions, centipedes, crickets, moths and beetles. Some small owls can capture and eat birds as large as themselves, however.

Larger Owls

Most larger owls eat a wide variety of prey. According to the World Owl Trust, owls are opportunists and will eat whatever they find. Great horned owls, common in North and South America, eat skunks, raccoons, squirrels, falcons, other owls and even dogs and cats. Common throughout the United States and in Europe, barn owls eat primarily rodents but also shrews, bats and rabbits and birds. The largest owls, such as eagle owls of Eurasia, prey on golden eagles and deer weighing 28 pounds. Asian fish owls and African fishing owls eat fish, aquatic invertebrates and amphibians.

Related Articles

What Do Tortoises Eat?
Differences Between Crayfish & Grasshoppers
What Do Shrews Eat?
Animals That Are Carnivores in the Tropical Rainforest
What Animals Eat Chipmunks?
How Long Do American Bald Eagles Live?
What Do Wild Birds Eat?
What Foods Do Harp Seals Eat?
What Type of Ecosystem Does an Owl Live in?
Things That Eat Wasps & Bees
Species of Bobcats in Pennsylvania
Where Is the World's Largest Bald Eagle Population?
What Type of Owl Eats Snakes?
Scavengers of the Tundra
Life Cycle of Bats
What Eats a Snake in the Rainforest?
Test Your Knowledge on Middle School Science
Facts About Silkworms
Animals That Eat Meat & Plants