Ubiquitously known for their predatory skills, owls are one of the most intriguing birds of the animal kingdom. Unlike most birds, these nocturnal creatures are most active at night, remarkably separating them from the other bird species.
With their stout, thick bodies, broad wings, and intensely sharp talons to violently attack their prey, these birds have remarkable stealth, power, and mastery of capturing a meal for themselves. Precisely adapted for hunting and preying, owls fly around silently, dexterously gliding and striking their target.
Owls are carnivorous species that feed on many creatures but does it often make you wonder if owls can be eaten by humans, just like many other birds? Is owl’s meat even edible, and is it permissible to consume the meat of owls? Read ahead to find out.
Eating an owl is in no way legal. Apart from strict laws protecting wild birds from being hunted, killed, and eaten, owls do not make for a delightful treat. Their abhorrent diet and foul scavenging habits don’t make them too tempting and certainly have a distasteful impact on the taste of their meat.
Yes, eating an owl is illegal.
If you’re contemplating whether you can eat owls, the answer is no. Humans are prohibited from eating owls, and there are strict laws against hunting and killing these birds.
The law strictly protects the wild raptors with numerous wildlife regulations in order to protect the species from extinction. This puts us under immense responsibility to abide by the laws since eating an owl is strictly forbidden, as also stated under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act signed in 1918.
According to this law, it is sternly forbidden to eat owls or their eggs or keeping them in captivity. Owls are adapted for hunting and killing prey, with scavenging dietary habits, and must be let out in the wild.
DID YOU KNOW?
Since owls are nocturnal animals that fly in the wild during nighttime, they are challenging to hunt and kill.
To locate these spectacular creatures in the intense darkness of the night in the wild, you would need a stellar spotting scope. To aid you in your birding experience, consider buying the Vortex Razor HD Spotting Scope.
Going against the law and keeping an owl in captivity can cost you hefty fines. These fines can go up to $15,000.
The laws regarding holding owls vary in each country. For instance, in countries such as the UK, stringent laws protect wild birds and their eggs and nests. However, holding the wild bird in captivity is permissible, although it requires attaining a special license.
Even though it is possible to eat owl meat, it is not recommended. Apart from the strict regulations imposed against the consumption of owl meat, it isn’t a delicacy either.
While eating owl meat, you’ll be essentially ingesting everything that the owl has eaten. And its taste is affected by their diet. Not only are owls notoriously messy eaters, spreading filth, but their feeding habits aren’t too pleasant either.
Since these species are primarily carnivorous, they ferociously tear apart, shred and feed on all sorts of creatures, ingesting even the teeth, feathers, bones, and claws of their preys - that they later regurgitate. Now, think about it!
Would you want to have a meal of a creature who scavenges on rodents? It doesn’t sound too tempting!
The animals and birds that humans typically consume are herbivores, mainly feeding on grains, seeds, and plants. The animal’s dietary habits definitely impact the taste of its meat, making the owl a loathsome choice.
Owls aren’t preferred in most cultures around the globe. Besides, they aren’t too big in size and have considerably less meat. So even if eating them was permissible, there wouldn’t be sufficient meat to extract and relish a delicious meal.
According to researches, an owl’s meat tastes quite similar to chicken meat. Its flavor tends to be more intense, but you could say, not too delectable.
The taste of their meat is an amalgamation of what they eat, and since the diet of these raptors comprises insects, snails, shrews, and mice among the numerous creatures, it isn’t too palatable. Hence, the meat of these raptor species should not be consumed.
Do you ponder about the fact that if owl meat would have been so succulent and delectable, wouldn’t it have been a popular delicacy among the human population?
Well, that actually is not the case. The meat is quite distasteful and inedible for many people, and for this reason, it has not attained prominence in the poultry industry.
Since owls voraciously hunt and kill animals, they have a high potential of consuming organisms that can be harmful to humans. The meat of owls can be contaminated with infectious diseases, and ingesting the owl would make it likely for humans to contract diseases.
Owls are wild creatures, typically scavenging on dead species, and efforts to domesticate and keep them within the boundaries of one’s house are pretty impossible.
Had it been more accessible, this trend would have crested a long time ago, and people would enjoy the company of these wild folks and eventually feed on their meat.
DID YOU KNOW?
In the US, regulatory acts to protect owls have even made it illegal to be in possession of an owl feather - regardless of the source of the feather.
It doesn’t matter if it has been collected from a dead owl.
The penalty for the crime is hefty; in fact, it is much larger for killing an owl. This makes it quite challenging to eat an owl.
Although you cannot eat the owl itself, you can eat its eggs. The eggs of almost all the birds are considered edible. However, the protection of owls extends to their eggs and nests as well.
If you try to pounce on the owl nest or steal the eggs, you can put yourself in serious trouble. According to state laws, it is not permissible to take or even eat owl eggs.
If you’re wondering what the eggs of these raptor species look like, these eggs are rather small in size, dull white in color, almost spherical in shape and have a relatively rough surface.
They measure around 2-2.2 × 1.8-1.9 inches in size. The female owl lays 1-6 eggs in a clutch and incubates them for around 32-34 days, while the male guards the nest and fetches food. The eggs hatch in intervals of two days, usually in the order they were laid.
Having adept features for hunting such as their razor-sharp talons and strong hooked beaks, these birds of prey tend to have quite a diverse diet, preferring to hunt and feed on a vast array of creatures.
Their diet ranges from tiny rodents and scorpions to bulky hares, skunks and geese. Their diet is not limited to smaller birds and mammals, but owls would ravenously feed on moles, shrews, rats, chipmunks, squirrels, ducks, mergansers, grebes, rales, crows, ravens, starlings, among the plethora of species.
Fish, reptiles, and insects also form a significant part of their diet. They would often delve into the carrions and enjoy a scrumptious meal, making their dietetic contents even more noxious for the humans.
Despite typically being nocturnal hunters, the owls wouldn’t hesitate to hunt in broad daylight as well if their prey is well within the target reach. Perching on the tree branches or meadows, if the owl spots prey, it would lurk and capture the animal.
The predatory birds would even attack and rip apart other raptors such as Hawks.
These nocturnal raptors can be dangerous and aggressive towards humans but consuming their meat is also not possible.
Most countries have stringent laws to protect these wild species, making owl meat illegal and imposing hefty fines. Besides, the meat doesn’t taste delicious either, so you wouldn’t ever want to delve into it.
So beware! You wouldn’t want to find yourself in any trouble by trying to linger around owls. Not only is the hunting and killing of owls or stealing their eggs a crime, but these mighty creatures cannot even be captivated or domesticated and require a special permit.
You’ll be questioned even if you possess the feather of an owl, let alone the entire bird.
Do you want to read up more about owls? Here’s a post you must not miss out on detailing facts about how do owls sleep – it’s rather interesting.
My name is Inigo 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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