Do Eagles Eat Owls?

Being nocturnal predators, owls are often attributed as the freaks of the avian world.

Consequently, no sane animal actively hunts for owls.

That said, eagles are the daring royalties of the bird family that can eat from small rodents to dead sharks. 

So the answer to the question – Do eagles eat owls is… 

If given the opportunity, an eagle will certainly eat an owl. 

However, eagles are diurnal birds that rarely get to interact with nocturnal owls.

Furthermore, most eagles prefer scavenging over active hunting.

Despite that, eagles have been observed to attack owls whenever they can manage.

So, one must wonder,

“Why would an eagle go through the trouble of eating a dangerous predator like an owl?”

Also, eagles and owls seem to avoid each other’s territory. S

o, perhaps you are wondering if there is some bad blood between the two birds.

Or, something like:

Do Owls Hate Eagles?

Allegedly, they do.

Now, eagles are among the largest and fiercest flying birds.

An average eagle can weigh about 6-11 kgs and have a wingspan reaching beyond 2-3 meter width.

They have prominent eyes, gripping talons, and piercing beaks.

Their regal feathers seem to add to their magnificence and charisma.


Instead of hunting, most eagles would rather scavenge a dead fish or steal food.

This helps eagles avoid unnecessary injuries and sicknesses.

Also, eagles conserve a great amount of energy by simply choosing to scavenge rather than hunt.

In contrast, owls are relatively moderate-sized birds with an average weight of 0.5 to 3kgs.

While owl wingspans can reach about 1-2 meters wide, compared to eagles, owl feathers are exceptionally thick giving them silent but slower flights.

Despite being slow, owls have long-piercing talons and flesh-tearing beaks.

Which is why owls don’t appear the easiest or most appealing prey for any predator. 

Besides, owls are active during the night and eagles are active during the day.

Thus, these birds don’t naturally get to interact much.


If eagles and owls are often seen fighting, they must hate each other.

In fact, ornithologists have theorized that owls and eagles hate each other to the extent that they have genetically imprinted their distaste for each other.


If an owl has never met an eagle, it will instinctively recognize and dislike one.

The same is true for eagles. 

Now, most of these fights end up either eagle eating the owl, or both animals ending with severe injuries.

Since owls take the brunt of these attacks, it seems odd that:

Normally, owls initiate fights with eagles.

Now, you must be wondering:

Why Do Owls Initiate Attack on Eagles?

Because owls lack a sense of judgment.

Related article – Are owls intelligent?

You see, most of the owl’s skull space is occupied by its huge eyes.

Also, the owl brain is wired to maximize its hunting skills. 

However, an owl’s brain lacks the Dorsal Ventricular Ridge – the avian brain region involved in making decisions.

Therefore, owls lack the ability to judge situations. 

Owls take all sorts of fights, even the ones they may potentially lose.

Or, owls are dumb enough to fight animals of any size, any ranking, or any defense mechanism.

So, maybe owls see eagles as food.

Or, perhaps,

Owls hate eagles so much that they attack eagles whenever they encounter them.

However, owls rarely get to eat eagles. 

Related article – Are owls raptors?

Now, you may be curious, wondering:

What Eats An Eagle?

Technically, whatever can.

You see, eagles occupy the highest trophic levels in any given ecosystem.

And so, no animal dares to eat an adult healthy eagle.

However, nothing survives in the wild, even eagles.

So, predators can hunt eagles if the eagles are:

  1. Too young or inexperienced.
  2. Too old or injured or sick.
  3. Too bold and naive to attack a bigger predator.

Here is a list of animals reported to have eaten an eagle:

Predator Typical Targets Remarks
Hawks Eggs, hatchlings, rarely injured eagles. Dive upon injured eagles, but mostly happens when hawks happen across unattended eagle nests.
Owls Eggs, hatchlings, weak eagles. Naive and fearless enough to attack eagles twice their size.
Eagles Hatchlings and eagles of other species. Territorial claims mostly.
Octopuses Grown eagles. Rarely happens when an eagle is bold enough to try and eat octopuses.
Wild Cats Eagles with the inability to fly. Mostly seen during famines.
Wolves Eagles and hatchlings. Mostly observed in attacks during falconry practices.
Bears Adult Eagles. Rarely reported.
Snakes Hatchlings, eggs. Eagles can sometimes get poisoned. But snakes rarely eat them.
Foxes Eagle hatchlings and eggs. Happens when a fox happens upon an unattended eagle nest.
Skunks Eagle eggs. Skunks can climb trees to eat all kinds of eggs.
Raccoons Eagle eggs and hatchlings. May look for unattended nests, actively.
Crows Eagle eggs and hatchlings. Eat eagles out of revenge and opportunity.

However, most of the eagle deaths are rather of natural causes.

Meanwhile, owls seem to misjudge a lot of situations.

And yet,

Most animals fear owls more than even eagles.


Well, because owls are way too unpredictable and fearless.

You can say that owls are like the Joker from Batman. So, definitely not funny but too dangerous to even get a regular confrontation. The perfect antagonist.

Anyways, the “Suicide Squad” teaches us that even villains can have enemies. 

I go into more detail about this in my article – What eats an eagle?

So, even if you are not a DC Comics fan, you may question:

Do Owls Have Enemies?

They most certainly do.

You see, owls can see in the dark as their eyes contain about 30 times more rod cells than cones.

This allows owl eyes to collect more light at the expense of being color blind. 

Also, owls have reflective retinas to see a clearer image during the night. 

You see, owls have an exceptional parabolic hearing.

They can even precisely locate a mouse scurrying away 1 meter deep within the ice. 

Unlike most animals, owls hunt during the night.

In contrast, most animals are active during the day and have limited to no vision during the dark hours.

Which is why, most animals are practically defenseless during the night.

Now, wild cats are active during dark hours.

However, these animals walk on land and produce some sound to warn prey animals.

In contrast, 

Owls have serrated wings that make their flight almost soundless.

This ability to silently jump on any animal during the night and eat away entire families is what makes owls the most disliked raptors. 

For instance, owls have been reported to eat away more than 9 crows in a single night raid.

Owls don’t even build their own nests.

They simply take over already built nests and even eat away the nest owners.

Sighting of an owl in any place leads to general anxiety in the resident animal communities.

Most birds would join wings to harass an owl, and thereby, mob it out of their territories before dark.

While owls are considered a common enemy to all animals yet, certain animal species try their best to take revenge on owls, whenever they can.

These include:

  1. Crows and Jays
  2. Eagles and hawks
  3. Snakes
  4. Foxes
  5. Wildcats

That said, humans seem to be the worst enemies of owls.

Deforestation and the destruction of habitat have led to more owl deaths than any other cause.

Related article – Are crows afraid of owls?

But maybe you are more into finding out what eats an owl.


What Predators Do Owls Have?

No animal in particular.

Most animals are afraid of owls and consider these raptors some “Creepy Bird Relatives”.

Most animals even avoid owl territories, much less eat one.

However, owls too can be vulnerable.

And so, eliminating such individuals results in fewer predator individuals.

Even prey animals leave no opportunity to kill or eat an owl.

Owls get predated, mostly when:

  1. They are eggs or barely hatchlings.
  2. Owlets of a few weeks.
  3. Injured or too old.
  4. Try to attack a larger prey like eagle or cheetahs.

Here is a list of animals reported to have predated owls:

Predator Typical Targets Remarks
Eagles Adult owls, owlets, eggs. Eat adult owls mostly when the owl tries to attack them. 

They will leave no opportunity to consume owlets. Large eagles like Harpy Eagles don’t steal eggs.

Hawks Owlets and eggs.

Rarely get to eat adult owls.

Related article – Do hawks eat owls?

Have been reported to attack owls in groups of 3-7 birds.
Owls Smaller or younger owls of other species. Typically for territorial claims.
Snakes Eat eggs or owlets. Rarely eat adult owls. These can climb trees to reach owl nests to consume eggs.
Foxes Owlets and eggs. Search for owl nests on the ground.
Squirrels Puncture owl eggs. Rarely eat owl eggs. But make sure to kill eggs or throw down nests.
Crows Eat owl eggs and sometimes hatchlings. Often mob out adult owls. But the biggest bird group to steal owl eggs.
Wildcats Eat owlets and even injured owls. Incidences were observed mainly during the famine.

Wrapping Up

Owls are not a preferred diet for any animal.

However, even owls and eagles are not safe from predation.

Eagles also eat owls whenever they can consume them, and vice versa.

Although most of these encounters happen when owls attack eagles first.

It seems that owls hate eagles. 

Anyways, apart from raptors, owls have several other enemies.

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