What Do Baby Owls Eat?
How To Take Care of a Baby Owl?

Baby owls eat mice, chicks, and insects, but they must be shredded. Read to learn more about how you can take care of owlets!

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David A. Swanson

October 17, 2021

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What’s This Post About?

Owlets, like other newborn birds, are unique from mature, adult birds. An owlet is a small baby owl that has not yet gained its entire adult plumage and is still reliant on its parents for nourishment, protection, and shelter.

Owlets rarely leave the nest because they cannot provide for themselves, but as they grow older, they will investigate the area surrounding the nesting location and may even be spotted on the ground.

If you see them on the ground, it’s best to leave them alone unless injured. In that case, you should know what baby owls eat and how to take care of them.

Baby owls mostly eat what adult owls of the same species eat, just in smaller pieces. This can include mice, rats, insects, and small birds. Owlets are best left alone, but if you see a wounded or injured owlet, carry it inside your home and immediately call a wildlife rehabilitator.


What Do Baby Owls Look Like?

A baby owl has the same appearance as an adult owl but without feathers and a large beak.

The baby owl has a heart-shaped face, beady round eyes, and a long bill. They are white when they are small, and as their feathers come in, they become cream-colored and brownish in hue.  Although some juvenile birds are somewhat different from older birds, the eyes and bill color can also distinguish newborn owls.


Parent owls are reputed to fiercely protect their young, attacking everything they see as a threat, including other species, large mammals, and even people. Therefore, when seeing owlets, observers should use caution and maintain a safe distance to prevent upsetting the young birds or provoking their guardians.

Maturity Of Owl Babies

The rate at which a newborn owl matures is influenced by various factors, including general health, availability of food, and weather. Additionally, varying owls age out of their owlet stage at varied rates and have varying juvenile durations.

Smaller young owls grow more quickly, and within a few weeks of birth, they may be unrecognizable from adult birds.

On the other hand, larger owl species may take many months to grow out of the owlet phase and achieve complete independence.


Barn owls reach the total adult weight and plumage in 2 months!

What Do Baby Owls Eat?

Baby owls eat whatever their parents feed them.  Adult owls hunt their regular diet for their offspring and then shred it into tiny chunks so that the baby owl may easily consume it. Therefore, the food of baby owls is almost the same as that of adult owls of the same species.


When it comes to eating, the eldest owlet takes precedence over its siblings. The youngest kid will not be fed before the eldest baby owl.

Owls eat a variety of foods. They devour various animals, including small mammals, huge birds, lizards, frogs, and even insects. As a result, baby owls can consume almost any animal as long as the prey is taken apart and ripped apart.


Baby Snowy Owls

Since this owl is capable of hunting both tiny and large creatures, the food of the snowy owl is diverse. Overall, this owl prefers to consume animals that are plentiful in its environment.

Snowy owls mostly hunt shorebirds and ducks in marshlands when the nesting season is over. During the mating season, however, they hunt tiny passerines and shorebirds.

While the younger version of the species will always eat what their parents eat, some observations have focused on quantity. For example, a four-week-old young snowy owl was spotted eating 3 to 9 lemmings every day in captivity, while a newborn snowy owl may consume up to two lemmings each day in the wild.



If you want to know what baby owls eat, you must first classify the species and then search for that species' prey list. The diet for the same species of owlet is not different from their adult birds.

Here is a list of things that different owls eat:

Great Horned Owls Burrowing Owls Barn Owls Barred Owls Screech Owls
Voles Moles Field Vole Mammals (Bats, Rabbits) Moths
Mice Lizards Bank Voles Birds (Doves, Jay) Beetles
Waterfowls Mice Small Birds Insects (Beetles, Crickets) Scorpions
Rabbits And Hares Beetles Mice & Rats Fish Centipedes
Coots Grasshoppers Shrews Frogs Voles

How To Take Care Of A Baby Owl?

There’s probably no reason to be alarmed if you come across a baby owl on the ground. However, remember that it is not necessarily abandoned. Before you try to take care of the bird, judge if your assistance is required. Leave the bird alone unless it seems to be hurt, in which case, call a professional.


An owlet will only remain in the nest for 6 weeks after hatching.


Before you take care of an owlet, you must be equipped with all the necessary information about them. But, one might wonder, what’s worse than leaving an owl without care rather than giving it the wrong care?

Follow this course of action to take care of the owl responsibly:

Evaluate The Reason for The Owlet’s Presence

Baby owls cannot fly, but they may leave the nest to strengthen their wings and legs. They do this by investigating surrounding branches or rocks, climbing, or bouncing around in a process known as “branching”.

Young owls are regularly seen with their siblings, and it is not uncommon to observe multiple owlets together.

They may roost in strange places or even sleep on the ground, oblivious that they are in plain view of predators. They may be intrigued about surrounding objects, including other species.

They may attentively investigate their new environment with their huge, bold eyes, often rotating their heads to see it from several angles.


Assess The Situation

Obtaining information about the details surrounding the discovery can assist you in determining the best line of action. Ask yourself these questions and try to find answers by looking around.

  • Where was the owl when it was initially discovered? Was it found right next to the nest? Is it on a concrete floor or loose straw/vegetation?
  • Do its wing feathers appear to be long enough to have split its fall in half?
  • What kind of weather have you been having? Long periods of rain may prevent the adults from hunting, which means the owlet is more likely to starve.
  • Was it discovered outside?
  • Is the owlet completely soaked?
  • What was the owl’s body posture when it was discovered, and what is it now? Is it upright, squatting, or resting on its back with its feet safely tucked behind it?

Identify The Specie

Once you decide that the answers to all your above questions may indicate the owlet needs help, it’s critical to identify the species.

The best line of action is entirely determined by the type of owl you’re dealing with. Checking the color of the eyes is a wonderful method to tell the difference. Barn Owls, for example, have black eyes and eyelids, whereas tawny Owls have bright pink eyelids.

Check The Maturity of The Bird

If the owlet appears mature, do not engage with the owl but rather flee the location as fast as possible. To check if the owlet is mature enough to be left alone, see if

  • is aware of the setting
  • has focused eyesight
  • can stay upright and wander around
  • can extend both wings over his body in defense


If you can spare half an hour for the sake of the owlet’s entire existence, position yourself as far away as possible while still keeping the owl’s approximate location insight - preferably with binoculars. Try and listen for movement around the infant while standing motionless and producing no noise.

Check For Wound Or Injury

Birdwatchers should technically avoid attempting to grab or assist a baby owl on their own, as inappropriate handling could result in even more complications or damage.

While juvenile owls may be unskilled and underdeveloped, their claws and bills are still sharp and strong, and even baby owls can cause serious injuries when agitated or scared.

However, there can be situations where your role becomes necessary. If the owlet is still in the same position after some time has passed, and there is no sign of parents present, you must inspect the owlet itself.

Lay the owlet on its back calmly but firmly, keeping both legs above the toes. Feel for potential fractures in the wings and legs and excessive swelling from dislocation in the joints.


Contact A Wildlife Rehabilitator

Suppose a juvenile owl displays indications of injury, in that case, it’s advisable to seek help from a certified wildlife rehabilitator, a bird rescue center, or other wildlife institutions to ensure the bird’s safety and well-being.

Any fracture or displacement or any other apparent anomaly needs the attention of a veterinarian. The owlet won’t survive without it, and the parent owls, recognizing the disability, could stop feeding it.

Caretakers must be very cautious not to be imprinted by baby owls when hand-rearing them during rehabilitation. Rescuers must go to extremes, such as hiding in plain sight and nursing the infant with forceps placed in the beak of an owl puppet.

Bring The Owl Inside Your Home

Bring the owl inside your house, keep it in a warm, quiet, and enclosed space while you wait for professional assistance. Considering that the owlet was alone for quite a while, it may be hungry. However, if the bird is injured, you should avoid feeding it at the risk of choking.

Understand that owls are unable to chew their food and must swallow it. Baby owls, unlike adult owls, cannot swallow their prey whole; instead, they must be dissected and ripped apart.

As a result, young owls must be fed with little bits of meat. It’s much preferable to give a baby owl one or two chicks or little chunks of small mammals or rodents regularly.



Dead mice, rats, chicks, vitamins, and mineral supplements are the most typical owl diet foods.

Keep Reading!

Baby owls consume the same foods as adult owls of the same species but in smaller portions. Examples of this are mice, rats, insects, and tiny birds.

Owlets should generally be left alone unless you suspect a wound or injury. First, try to figure out the owlet’s species and maturity to make decisions accordingly. Then, bring it inside your home while you wait for a wildlife rehabilitator to arrive.

Now that you know what baby owls eat and how to take care of them, read to learn about their sleeping habits!

How Do Owls Sleep? Cute Baby Owls Sleep Face Down! (Pics)

Does the thought of how do owls sleep fascinate you? Read this post to find out about their sleeping habits and more.

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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