How to Take care of a Baby Owl - Video Guide Include

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Owls are nocturnal, carnivorous birds of prey located throughout the world. They are said to be opportunistic predators because they adjust their daily food intake to accommodate the most convenient source of sustenance. As a result, these birds are able to eat a wide variety of foods. Because the birds prefer live prey and require a continual source of food for the first few months of their lives, feeding a young owl can be a difficult task. This guide will familiarise you with how to take care of a baby owl.
We’ll still recommend that you don’t undertake the task of taking care of an owl that you found outside of its nest. Don’t get too enthusiastic with catchy YouTube titles like “how to rescue an owl” that may feature a baby owl outside of its nest. It doesn’t necessarily mean that its parents abandoned it. They naturally grow curious and explore around as they get closer to acquiring the ability to fly. The following video shows an owl climbing back into its nest.
However, this depends highly on the species. For example, in the case of barn owls, owlets (A baby owl is called an owlet) on the ground will usually be ignored and will almost certainly die if they cannot climb back up to the nest on their own.
So it’s best if you seek expert advice regarding taking care of an owlet. In this guide, we’ll explain everything that entails taking care of an owl as vividly as possible, so you are, at least, informed.

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Different Types of Owls

There are more than 225 different species of owls in the world. Check articles like this one from The Spruce if you need to take a quick look at all of them. But here, we’re only going to talk about the ones found in the UK.

There are currently six different types of owls identified as resident species in the UK. These are:

1. Tawny or brown owl

2. Little owl

3. Barn owl

4. Long-eared owl

5. Short-eared owl

6. Eurasian eagle owl

Let’s give you a short introduction to all of them. However, note that you’ll also be given a “conservation status” of the owl which basically tells you if the species is marked as endangered or not. In the UK, there are three different types of conservation statuses.
different types of owls

Table of Contents

Types of Conservation Status

1. The Red List

The Red list represents the greatest conservation priority. It includes species that require immediate attention. Species that are globally threatened also qualify for UK’s Red list criteria as well.

2. The Amber List

The second most critical group is Amber. Birds that were subjected to historical population decline during 1800–1995, but are recovering now make it to the Amber list. For a bird species to make it to the Amber list, its population size has to increase by more than double over the last 25 years. Otherwise, it’s still a critically endangered species, i.e. included in the Red list.

3. The Green list

The least critical group of species are those on the Green list. Basically, all the species that are not on the Red or the Amber list are Green listed.
With that said, here’s a list of owls commonly found in the UK.
Brown Owl

Tawny or Brown Owl

Common name: Tawny or brown owl
Scientific name: Strix aluco
Conservation status: Amber
Height: 15-18 inches
Wingspan: 32-41 inches

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Little Owl

Little Owl

Common name: Little owl
Scientific name: Athene noctua
Conservation status: Not assessed
Height: 8½ inches
Wingspan: 22 inches
Barn Owl

Barn Owl

Common name: Barn owl
Scientific name: Tyto alba
Conservation status: Green
Height: 13½ inches
Wingspan: 35 inches
Long-eared Owl

Long-eared Owl

Common name: Long-eared owl
Scientific name: Asio otus
Conservation status: Green
Height: 15 inches
Wingspan: 39 inches

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Long-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl

Common name: Short-eared owl
Scientific name: Asio flammeus
Conservation status: Amber
Height: 15 inches
Wingspan: 40 inches
Long-eared Owl

Eurasian Eagle Owl

Common name: Eurasian eagle owl
Scientific name: Bubo bubo
Conservation status: Not assessed
Height: 26 inches
Wingspan: 68 inches

Is It Legal to Own an Owl in the UK?

Owls are wild animals. They aren’t your typical house cats or dogs who can easily be managed as pets. But, owing to the popularity of the Harry Potter series, people can be forgiven for thinking owls are typical house pets.

 

However, even though the USA strictly banned the owning of wild animals such as owls, the UK is a bit different story in this respect. You can keep an owl as a pet here. But you have to have a registration for owning an endangered owl species. If you want to keep other wild birds as pets, you must first determine whether you need a license and then apply for one.

For those that are not critically endangered, you have to have a legal defence for owning the bird. To quote the UK government’s website regarding wild birds,
“To prove you own it legally, you should keep a record of when and where the bird was found or taken and by whom or a receipt if you bought it.”

Legally can mean either of the following:

Barn owls are the most common species that are kept as pets in the UK. But it is still illegal, under The 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act, to disturb them in the wild. It is prohibited to disrupt wild barn owls when they are breeding, as well as to remove, destroy, or disturb- the nest, eggs, or the young of a nesting barn owl. A single visit to return an owlet to its nest, on the other hand, is unlikely to result in legal action.
However, the law does not mandate the registration of captive barn owls. But, they have to be captive-bred and wear a close ring in order to be sold under the legislation. This is a continuous metal ring that can be slid on a nestling’s leg but not an adult’s. The goal of this method is to keep wild adults from being trapped and sold.

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How to Take Care of a Baby Owl?

Let me preface this section with a warning that keeping an owl as a pet is a MASSIVE investment in terms of not just money, but also time and effort. If you do not know what you are doing, you will almost certainly harm the owl as they are very picky animals. They have very specific care needs.
However, it is understandable if you’re reading this blog knowing what comes next, but you’re still committed. However, stumbling upon an owlet in the wild is also a possibility. In that case, you may be thinking of taking care of it for a few days before returning it to the wild. The best advice here is: don’t. The best option would be to contact trained, licensed individuals who can help you rehabilitate the owlet.
For example, finding a young barn owl somewhere near your home isn’t unusual if you are in the UK. So you may be wondering, what should I do in this case?
Feed a Baby Barn Owl

What to Feed a Baby Barn Owl?

Before Feeding

Preparation

Before feeding the babies, prepare food for them. This chore may be a little nasty for those who are squeamish, but the newborns are unable to devour an entire animal.

Typical Diet of an Owl

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Video Guide

I’d suggest you the following excellent video on YouTube that shows an expert feeding an owlet. He also gives a few instructions on how to ensure the owl is properly restrained before feeding, so it doesn’t harm itself or the feeder in this process.

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Do Owls Bond With Humans

Do Owls Bond With Humans?

They definitely can. But not as you may think. Owls aren’t cats or dogs who form a rather ‘social’ bond with us. This is what we typically expect from pets.

However, owls will only ‘imprint’ on you. According to Google, ‘imprint’ is-

“(of a young animal) come to recognize (another animal, person, or thing) as a parent or other object of habitual trust.”
With that said, keep the following things in mind before you plan to own an owl:

FAQs

What can you feed a baby owl?

See the section under the heading “What to Feed a Baby Barn Owl?”

Can you have an owl as a pet?

The short answer is: yes, you can. However, there are some caveats. Give this blog a good read if you haven’t, as we have discussed them in detail inside.

Do baby owls need water?

They certainly do. If you don’t feed them water, they will become dehydrated.

Do owls like being pets?

Owls aren’t social animals like cats or dogs. They don’t like being handled. They can be kept as pets, but like in the case of all other wild animals, it’s not ideal.

Do owls like humans?

They don’t. They don’t hate us either. It’s just that owls aren’t social, and as such, they don’t like being handled.

How do you befriend an owl?

You can’t. An owl will only ‘imprint’ on you. This is explained in the blog in detail.

Do owls regurgitate?

They do. See the section under the heading “Before Feeding” to know about this behaviour in detail.

Where should I keep an owl in my house?

Owls are nocturnal. They are most active at night. As such, it’s best to keep them in a place where they won’t be harmed by sunlight.

How do you train a baby owl?

You can’t train a baby owl. But as it grows, you can teach it some things. However, it will take a lot of resources in terms of time and effort.

Do owls eat cats?

They usually prefer insects, chicks and mice. However, European or Eurasian owls sometimes target larger prey, such as cats. Owls are opportunists. They may target cats if the food supply is scarce.

Can I touch a baby owl?

Touching a baby owl will not ruin its natural smell that may make it unrecognisable to its parents as owls have a poor sense of smell. However, as I said before, they don’t like being handled or touched.

Can baby owls fly?

In the case of barn owls, by 8-9 weeks of age, owlets will have taken their first short flights, and by 10 weeks of age, the majority of them will be capable flyers.

Conclusion

As you can see, it’s not easy explaining how to take care of a baby owl without going into the details as some of the care is species dependent. However, this guide has covered most of the common ones across species and the ones relevant to barn owls. This is because barn owls are usually the choice when people think of owning owls. Also, do remember to check out the YouTube videos linked in this guide as they will be equally valuable to you.
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