How much weight can an Owl carry? [Don’t underestimate them!]




How much weight can an owl carry

How much weight can an owl carry? Have you ever thought about it?

It is time to figure it out!

Not all types of owls are weight lifters. Those who have larger bodies are capable of carrying larger prey. Therefore, it is inevitable that more giant owls like great horned owls, great grey owls, and snowy owls can carry away pretty much heavier and larger prey (sometimes a bit heavier than their own body weight).

So, a larger owl (such as a great horned owl) is capable of carrying 5 lb prey if the owl is also equally heavier and large enough. But in general, they tend to carry half of their body weight since it is easier for them to fly in balance with less weight.  

But, it does not mean that they do not attack much larger prey than them or even predators. They are insanely good hunters. They belong to a group called Strigiformes. Most owls have giant heads, stocky bodies, soft feathers, short tails, and a reversible toe pointing forward or backward. Owls’ eyes face ahead as humans do. Most of them are active at night.

Therefore, many owl species are nocturnal. Most owl species are carnivores or meat-eaters, and there are about 250 owl species on earth. Owls live on every continent except Antarctica.


Can owls carry more than their body weight?

Check the below description for some fascinating facts you should probably know.

When it comes to the weight an owl can carry, it is clear that it would first have to depend on the species, the weight, size, and structure of the owl; not all types of owls can lift heavy prey.

As it is mentioned above, an adult great horned owl can carry about 5 lb which can be a bit higher than its own body weight. However, some sources such as the Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture, Government of Newfoundland, have reported that great horned owls can carry 8-9 lb prey (which is 2-3 fold weight than their body weight). Hence, it is safe to say that some owls are capable of carrying more than their body.

Yet, even though owls like red-tailed Hawks and Great Horned can weigh up to four pounds, none of these owls can not lift more than a four-pound animal from the ground.

Can an owl pick up your 20-pound dog? Can your dog be the next prey?

Owls can not pick up a 20-pound puppy, as it will be difficult for them to fly away with this much weight to carry. But, a larger owl can carry a small puppy with less weight than that (less than about 8-10 pounds)

Sometimes, even with less heavy prey than a 20-lb dog, this bird cannot keep its balance while flying due to its body’s total weight and the prey they catch. This imbalance affects loosening the prey’s hold, and the result is falling, which could be dangerous to a little puppy if it is the prey.

Not all owls can carry away a dog, but some can do it. Great horned owls, red-tailed hawks, and northern goshawks are three of the most common birds of prey to strap at small dogs and cats, primarily those under 6-7 pounds.

Various types of owls catch small dogs to feed their young.  However, they do not catch dogs regularly or on a favored basis. People live in areas where flying predators are near the air and have to defend their pets seem straight to solve their problems.

Will an Owl go after your cat?

Yes, any cat under around 5 pounds is an easy task for an owl, particularly kittens. But, most cats certainly are too big and heavy for most owl species to attack and take away.

If an owl ever shows up in the garden, it is better to take the cat inside. If a bird of prey makes a nest in your yard, you should make sure to keep your cat indoors till the baby owls move; then, it is better to remove the nest from the place. If you ever ask would an owl eats a cat, the answer is Yes!

Owls eat cats. Their food chain is crazy out there, and simply because the cat is almost as large as the owl, it doesn’t indicate the bird won’t try to eat it. Both animals will join in a fight, and the possibilities are the owl will accept the cat as its main prey.

Of course, owls have a wide variety of preferred prey, including fish, small birds, small mammals, and, yes, sometimes cats! However, cats are not on the list of main food items for most of the owl species. In most instances, either owls are big enough or desperate enough to catch on a domestic cat.

Therefore, owls are not just attacking a cat. An owl may pick up cats if its natural food source is in short supply. Even though owls have their regular menus, sometimes they like to be opportunistic eaters, so they will hunt whatever is available and whenever they set their mood to it. In this case, they may see a cat as a possible meal.

Also, mammals consider as the owls’ top prey, and birds come under the next position. So, of course, an owl can pick up cats. During the nighttime, owls become incredibly active in terms of hunting for possible prey.

Do owls ever attack humans?

The answer is yes.

Like most animals, owls will usually prefer flight over fight, and they typically are not offensive towards people. Yet, owls have attacked humans in various situations and for multiple reasons. Many news sources show how the people in parks are experiencing owl attacks.

Many victims of owl attacks proclaim having ponytails or certain things like headphones. These objects can be confusing for the owls as their prey. So, they will eventually be trying to attack humans who are wearing them. Owls of all kinds usually attack people when defending their nests, eggs, young, family, or territories. Naive joggers and hikers admit as the most common attacks.

Most of the time, victims escape without harm, and also, deaths from owl attacks are notably rare. The great horned owl, also known as Bubo virginianus, and barred owls, also named Strix varia, are the most common human attackers. Anyway, owls do not attack people without reason. 

The reason for that is, that humans are much bigger and stronger than even the giant owl in the world and can do significant injury to them. A wounded owl cannot survive long in the woods. The reason owl attacks often happened was due to the harm done by people to their existence. Owls usually defend themselves and attack humans when they are trying to reach their nests or young. So, they will whoop at an approaching human and might swoop to try to turn away before attacking right away. 

Type of owls in the United States at a Glance!

Name of the owlSizePhysical appearanceWeight range
Barn Owl    medium-sized    They are colored owls with the large and long wings. Also, they have a short, squarish tails. Barn Owls are pale overall with dark eyes. They have a mix of buff and grey on the head, back, and upper wings. The face, body, and underwings are white. When seen at night, they can appear all white.    ranging from 224 to 710 g (7.9 to 25.0 oz)    
Flammulated Owl    SmallFlammulated Owl is a reddish owl and barely more notable than a small juice can, comparable in shape to a screech owl but smaller, with shorter “ear” tufts.    Females range from 62–65 g (2.2–2.3 oz), and males are smaller, ranging from 50–52 g (1.8–1.8 oz)    
Long-eared owl    Medium-sizedThey are slender owls. They have long ear tufts. The head is roughly as broad as it is long, and it looks squarish. The facial disks are long and narrow. They often seem to wear a surprised expression because of the long ear tufts that typically point straight up, like exclamation marks.    7.8-15.3 oz (220-435 g)

They can lift and carry prey heavier than themselves.
Boreal owlSmall robin-sizedBoreal owls are large. They have square heads and they do not have ear tufts. They have a stocky bodies and short tails, and these owls have bright eyes and are square-faced.     3.3-7.6 oz (93-215 g)
Burrowing owl    SmallThey have long legs and short tails, and the head is rounded and does not have ear tufts. Their color is sandy and these owls have bright-yellow eyes.5.3 oz (150 g) female is larger than the male    
Snowy owl    Very largeThey have smoothly round heads and no ear tufts, and the body is bulky. The bird’s dense feathering on the legs makes the bird look broad at the base when sitting on the ground. And this owl has a pale shape with catlike yellow eyes.    56.4-104.1 oz (1600-2950 g)
Great horned owl    largeThese birds have thick bodies and these owls are with two prominent feathered tufts on the head. The wings are broad and round. In-flight, the round head and short bill connect to form a blunt-headed silhouette: long, earlike tufts, intimidating yellow-eyed stare, and deep hooting voice.    32.1-88.2 oz (910-2500 g)  

They can lift and carry prey heavier than themselves. (eg. 80 oz) 
Eastern screech owl    Short and smallThey are stocky birds with large heads and almost no neck. Their wings are round, and their tails are short and square. They have pointed ear tufts often raised, giving their heads a distinctive silhouette. They are supremely camouflaged birds.     4.3-8.6 oz (121-244 g) robin-sized    
Northern saw-whet owl    Small robin-sizedThey have more significant and rounded heads that lack ear tufts, and they have streaked white foreheads and blotchy rusty-brown streaks.    2.3-5.3 oz (65-151 g)
Northern hawk owl    Medium-sizedThey have an oval-shaped body accentuated by a long and sharp tail. The flies have short and sharp wings, and they have an oval body, yellow eyes, and round face encircled by dark parentheses.    8.5-16.0 oz (240-454 g)  

Their prey weight is normally below 70g  
Elf owl    Small, sparrow-sizedThis bird is the world’s smallest owl. These birds have a pattern of rufous, grey, and white. They have White eyebrows, and yellow eyes. They are tiny in size with pretty long legs and often appear bow-legged.40 g (1.4 oz).
Western screech owl    Small, robin-sizedThey have stocky bodies and they have somewhat square heads, almost no neck, and conspicuous ear tufts. The tail is short.    3.5-10.8 oz (100-305 g)    
Ferruginous pygmy owlSmallColor varies from rusty to greyish overall, but all colors have fine whitish streaks on the crown (not spots) and numerous, narrow dark tail bars. Claws are dark horns with blackish tips. Red Morph: Upperparts are rusty-brown, more or less spotted buff    46-107g. Females are 15-30g heavier than males.    
Whiskered screech owlSmallThese owls finely pattern in grey, black, and white.    Weight 70-121g. Females are heavier than males.    
Spotted owl    LargeThey have round heads that lack ear tufts. The wings are broad and round and their tails are short.    17.6-24.7 oz (500-700 g)    

They can lift and carry prey heavier than themselves.
Great grey owl    Tall and largeThese owls have broad wings and long tails. They are big-headed owls with large facial disks. They dwarf most other owls in size but not by weight; their bulk is primarily feathers.    24.7-60.0 oz (700-1700 g) Females are more significant than males.  

They can lift and carry prey heavier than themselves.  
Northern pigmy owlSmallTheir body is brown and white overall, and their eyes are yellow and bill.    62-73g. Female owls are usually larger and they are also generally heavier than male owls.    

They can lift and carry prey that weigh more than 70% of their body weigh. 
Short-eared owl    Medium, crow-sized. More extensive than a Rock Pigeon and smaller than a Great Horned Owl.    The ears named in their name are hard to see. Their wings are broad, and the tips are smoothly round, and the tail is short.    7.3-16.8 oz (206-475 g)

They can lift and carry prey heavier than themselves   

Wrapping up…

In conclusion, the facts denote that large raptors can carry up to 8-9 lb, but most owls carry weight less or equal to half of their body weight, in general. Having said this, the weight they can carry would first have to depend on the species, the weight, size, and structure of the owl.

According to their wishes and circumstances, some owl species can lift and carry dogs and cats as their meals, but they do so rarely. 

Moreover, owls may attack humans if humans threaten them or defend themselves, and they also harm humans to keep their young safe. Sometimes they may also attack humans by mistake. Thus, in most cases, owls do not attack humans without a reason unless they feel harmed or scared by the things done by humans.

Simply an owl is a nocturnal bird. They are Raptors or Birds of Prey. They hunt other living things for their food, using their particular adaptations and unique abilities that set them apart from any other creature.


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