Could Owls Be Dangerous? Be Safe!
And Keep Your Pets Safe

Inquisitive to find out whether you can really escape an attack by an owl? Are owls actually dangerous? Find out here!

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David A. Swanson

October 17, 2021

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What’s this Post About?

The incredibly enigmatic species often make us wonder if owls are actually the extremely affectionate and friendly birds that are portrayed in the movies. In fact, at first glance, these magnificent creatures might not even look so formidable as we imagine them to be.

The flat face and forward-facing eyes of the owl, and a short yet stout beak give it a rather innocent look. Is this creature capable of inflicting significant harm and injury to the beings around it?

However, accounts of frequent encounters of owl attacks refute the image of owls depicted often.

Instead of being the considerate birds that owls are thought to be, they are actually extremely fierce predatory birds that not only hunt and capture small animals but are also known to attack people in attempts to defend their young, nests, and territories.

Owls are violent predatory birds that not only ravenously attack their prey but are dangerous towards humans and pets also. Equipped with extremely sharp talons, these birds can brutally attack the target, causing severe injuries. These wild raptor species are widely known for their aggressive behavior.


Are Owls Dangerous?

Yes, owls are extremely dangerous raptorial birds that aggressively attack their targets, inflicting plausible harm and injuries.

Just like most birds, most instances of attacks by owls are attempts to deter potential intrusions. Unfortunately, however, they are intensely brutal creatures that can cause severe injury in protecting themselves and their territory.

Does that mean humans and owls cannot become cordial mates? The answer is quite evident – no, it can hardly be so!


Why Are Owls Dangerous?

A voracious predatory bird, owls, can be dangerous for both humans and animals. However, what makes the bird fiercely dreadful?

  • Having razor-sharp talons that have the potential to rip apart the prey, penetrate deep into the flesh with immense power, and carry their prey over a considerable distance.
  • Flying around with stealth and buoyancy, the owls’ feathers are noiseless, barely making any sound during flight. This keeps the target oblivious of the approaching owls.
  • Along with the commendable aviating skills of the owls, they have the ability to attack and capture prey much larger than themselves in size.
  • The high visual acuity of the owls, even during the nighttime, enables them to detect their prey from afar. In fact, Owls have the ability to rotate their heads by almost 360°.

Why Do Owls Attack Humans?

Generally, owls prefer to keep their distance from humans, not interfering with them. However, owls do attack humans quite rarely - when they feel threatened by their presence. These sporadic encounters might occur for a number of reasons.

The owls might mistakenly confuse the fuzzy hats or wagging ponytails as potential prey from a distant perch. So, considering it as a source of food, they dive down, clawing harshly, only to realize that their target wasn’t right.

In trying to protect their territory, they can cause cuts and bruises and sometimes even severe injury.

Equipped with extremely sharp talons, owls would become rebellious when provoked. They exhibit intense aggressiveness when an intruder tries to jeopardize their territory or inflict harm to their owlets or nests.


Sometimes, the inexperienced juvenile owls might become too overprotective and passionate to protect their territory. Therefore, in their attempt to maintain and secure their environment, these amateur owls would scare away any intruders that try to cause any interference.

Don’t owls fear humans? If they can attack humans violently, perhaps they don’t, or are they protecting themselves? Considering the size of humans, which is quite bigger than owls, shouldn’t owls be afraid of them?

Well, owls may fear humans and practice self-defense. This is why they go overboard to attack humans and protect themselves viciously.

How Do Owls Attack Humans?

Owls often feel threatened by the unsuspected joggers, hikers, and cyclists in the area, quite frequently targeting them. In most cases, the victims are able to escape the attack without much injury. Cases of death due to an attack by owls are extremely rare.

Swooping down silently, without any warning, from amidst the trees or perches, owls aggressively lurk their target and attack them. Depending on the species of owls, they would likely attack the face and head, ferociously striking it multiple times with their razor-sharp claws.

People living near open areas such as woodlands, grasslands, forests, mountains, and open fields are often flustered by the occasional run-ins with owls.

Secretively appearing from nowhere, species of this violent bird also dwell around the city areas and can be found in the parking Lots, zoos, and parks. You can read this post to know where owls are during the day.

Where Are Owls During the Day? What Does Seeing One Mean?

Are you wondering where owls are during the day? They are nighttime birds that use the day to rest, while some can rarely be found hunting.

In addition, dive-bombing from above, the owl pierces its sharp claws into the person’s scalp, leaving the person quite injured, immediately flying away, and swiveling its head in either direction and sometimes even returning for another knock.


Can Owls Be Friendly to Humans?

Typically, owls do not target humans. They are generally only harmful to the small animals they prey on. In most cases, the attack by owls is provoked.

In fact, farmers actually consider owls beneficial for their fields. Since these owls mainly prey on rodents and a wide array of insects that cause damage to the crops and peril supplies of stored grains, farmers are ready to pay for additional nest boxes to attract owls to their farms.

Not only do owls provide an amazing sight as they swoop down to capture the rodents, but they also aid the farmers in getting rid of the nuisance. Barn owls are actually known to catch around 1000 rodents each season along with their young. And that too for free! Otherwise, farmers have to pay huge sums of money and use tons of chemicals to kill these pests.

Can Owls Be Dangerous to Your Pets?

Keeping your pets outdoors, whether allowing them to freely explore your backyard, such as cats or dogs, or locking them up in a cage, like the chickens, rabbits, or parrots, to provide fresh air is always a good idea.

But beware!

While you’re trying to expose them to a healthy natural environment, keep in mind that your pets are not completely secure out there. Especially the smaller chickens and rabbits can become an easy target for potential predators.

The ravenous owl would leave no chance to attack and grasp their prey, even if this means breaking in the cage by twisting the sturdy wires with their sharp talons.

But what about cats and dogs? Are they too large and even powerful to be attacked and carried away by the owls? Should you be worried about leaving your adorable pets outdoors, unattended?

Well, if owls pose a dangerous threat to humans, then they are undoubtedly dangerous to cats and dogs as well.

Owls can be problematic for the cats and dogs in the open. In addition, you should be concerned if your pet is taking a stroll outdoors, because there are some species of owls that can be extremely injurious to your pets.


Due to its enormous size, exemplary hunting skills, and razor-sharp talons, the Great Horned Owl can pose serious threats to the pets they find in the open.

They can grasp and carry away small species of prey with them, and sometimes, even cause injury to your larger pets like the cats and dogs with their deadly trenchant talons.

If you’re wondering whether these violent owls can carry away the dogs with them, they actually can. Weighing around 4 pounds, the Great Horned Owls have the potential to pick up prey almost 10 times heavier than themselves.

So, it’s not the just the timid puppies and kittens that can become a victim, but also the adult pets as well!

But owls are no less of an intellectual species. They are clever enough not to attack the bigger dogs since they know they can combat them fiercely. Hence, they generally target the smaller ones.

However, this is not the case with all the owls. Smaller species like the Barn Owl do not have the potential to pose a threat to the relatively larger pets.

How To Protect Your Pets From Owl Attacks?

You must restrain the liberty of your pets to go outdoors. In addition, you cannot let them become an open target for the wild predators cruising around, which can pose a serious threat to the livestock and birds out there.


Here are some methods to deter owls and prevent owl attacks.

Keep Your Backyard Free Of Potential Owl Food

Owls are typically carnivores, so bird feed wouldn’t attract them much, but if rodents and reptiles’ dwell in your compound, then the owls can lurk around. So, clear out your space from any scrap bird food and dense bushes or shrubs.

Scare Away The Owls Using Scrap Tapes

Use globe mirrors that can deceive the owls when they see their own reflections. Thinking of it as another owl, they would fly away in order to avoid any competition. Scarecrows can also deter away the owls from coming to your yard.

Light Up Your Compound During The Night

The nocturnal species have extraordinary skills to hunt during the night, and their instincts would deter them to go to an area that is lit. Having lights around can deviate them from coming to your house and capturing their potential prey here.

Use Bird Spikes

Not only do the trees, but poles and fences also serve as viable perches. Use bird spikes to prevent the predator from perching nearby.

Install Owl Proof Nets

Even though your pets might be caged up during the night, the incredible visual acuity of owls can detect them from afar. Using owl-proof nets on the cages might deter the owls away, as they realize they would have to break through the net to grasp their potential prey.

Which Owls Are Most Dangerous?

Being aggressive is an innate characteristic of almost all the predatory species out there. They exhibit extreme anger and fierceness to keep themselves and their territory safe.

Owls are, undoubtedly, dangerously deadly and have the potential to cause significant harm. The larger species are much more brutal, while the smaller owls are relatively less feisty.

Is The Great Horned Owl Dangerous?

One owl species humans need to be particularly wary of is the Great Horned Owl. A number of high-profile assaultive attacks by these owls have been recorded.

An incredibly mighty bird of prey, the Great Horned Owl has extraordinary predatory skills that can cause deleterious harm to its target species.

Weighing around 3 pounds in size, these vicious raptors grow up to 2 feet in size with a massive wingspan of almost 5 feet. Having a deadly grip strength, the clutching force of the extremely powerful talons of these birds is as sturdy as 500 psi.

This deadly creature has the potential to disfigure, blind permanently and even kill its victim, if not rip it apart and feed on it right away. If they feel targeted or endangered, they would right away attack violently.

Great Horned Owls are typically known to feed on rites, mice, squirrels, rabbits, snakes, frogs, and an array of birds. They can carry away the larger prey, weighing a lot more than themselves.


Is The Snowy Owl Dangerous?

The elegant snowy plumaged owls with gorgeous streaks are no less aggressive than other mates of their family. If they feel threatened or endangered by any intrusions, then these owls can turn out to be very viscous, clawing the victim with their sharp talons.

Though there have been no accounts of severe injuries or fatalities caused by these snowy creatures, their fierceness reaches the heights when humans or any animal tries to go near their young or nests.


Snowy Owls don't even leave the voracious wolves if they try to approach their nests. So now you can imagine how fearless these creatures are.

Is The Barred Owl Dangerous?

Though much smaller in size than the great horned owls, and weighing even less than 2 pounds, Barred Owls are no less aggressive and territorial. One of the stealthiest owls, silently aviating in the sky or perching amidst the dense trees, they would often attack hikers, cyclists, and other passers-by.

Even when they are unprovoked, Barred Owls swoop down rapidly to attack the poor victim’s face, head, and hands. Their self-defense instincts are particularly high during the mating season, with the female being much more vicious than the male.

The bizarre incident of a Barred Owl killing a woman by voraciously attacking her in 2003 certainly indicates how detrimental this predator can be.

In 2011, after her husband had been sentenced for several years for being blamed for the murder of his wife, a forensic report revealed that the victim had indeed been attacked and killed by a Barred Owl!

Scary, right?

Such lethal was the attack that the victim had wounds on her face, scalp, and wrists as a result of being brutally scratched and pecked by the malignant owl.


Is The Screech Owl Dangerous?

These smaller species of owls with a stocky and short body and a relatively larger head are known for their exceptional maneuvering potential.

Aviating in the sky like bats, they can be quite hazardous when attacking their potential prey. These owls become extremely aggressive when there are intrusions in their nests and territory.

However, unlike the bigger species of owls, they are not capable of inflicting severe injuries, only rarely attacking humans.


Is A Barn Owl Dangerous?

The most prevalent species of owls found across America, these silent predators are considered to be among the least dangerous species of owls. Usually dwelling in large areas of land such as marshes, grasslands, and fields, they possess extraordinary characteristics to hunt for food.

Unlike most species of owls, Barn Owls are not very territorial neither are these species too protective of their young and would rather abandon their nests and owlets if predators threaten them.


Keep Reading!

If you had been wondering whether owls are compassionate and friendly species, you’ve got your answer. Owls are predatory birds that can be extremely wicked, causing detrimental harm to their victims.

Most of the time, the attack is an attempt of self-defense or to protect their territory from external intruders. Whatever the reason for the attack, most species of owls are extremely assaultive, scaring away both animals and humans.

To learn more about the incredibly mysterious species, explore if owls are smart. Read this post next!

David A. Swanson Picture

By David A. Swanson

Bird Watching USA

My name is David and I'm the the founder of Bird Watching USA! I started Bird Watching with My father-in-law many years ago, and I've become an addict to watching these beautiful creatures. I've learnt so much over about bird watching over the years that I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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David A. Swanson Picture

David A. Swanson

Bird Watching USA

My name is David and I'm the the founder of Bird Watching USA! I started Bird Watching with My father-in-law many years ago, and I've become an addict to watching these beautiful creatures. I've learnt so much over about bird watching over the years that I want to share with the world everything I know about them!



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