Crows and owls seem to be natural enemies of the avian world. As it turns out, these two foes of the bird kingdom have a long history. In this battle of enemies, they’ve been at war with each other dating back to even before human evolution. In fact, both of the birds are genetically imprinted with an intense hatred for each other.
However, if you observe them for long enough it becomes quite obvious that crows are dedicated with an incredible amount of energy to attack owls while the owl doesn’t seem to react that aggressively. So, to find out more about their intense relationship we’ll dive into an in-depth discussion about the battle between crows and owls. Let’s begin!
Do Crows Attack Owls?
Yes, crows attack owls whenever they see one. A murder of crows will attack, harass, mob, and even kill an owl if the owl comes out during the day. Just like cats and mice, spiders and flies, and wolves and elk are arch-enemies in the wild, crows and owls have a similar relationship between them. Anytime an owl is seen flying around, crows will continue to harass it.
Why Do Crows Attack Owls?
Crows typically attack owls to lessen their danger of predation. Crows are occasionally eaten by owls, and their nesting grounds regularly overlap, putting them in close contact. Since crows are hunted by owls during the night, crows try to intimidate the owls by attacking them to reduce the risk of predation. Besides, crows who engage in such attacks are much less likely to be a target for predation by the owls whereas crows who do not engage are more likely to be hunted by the owls.
Another reason is that owls often raid crows’ nests and prey on their eggs, chicks, and even mature crows. Crows cannot see properly in the dark so they become defenseless at night while they’re roosting. This gives the nocturnal owls a golden opportunity to hunt the crows. Furthermore, their battle has existed for so long that they have grown to dislike each other. That’s why whenever they come across, they can’t even tolerate the existence of the other.
Do Owls Fight Back?
Owls do not usually fight back when a murder of crows comes to attack. It is simply because the owl gets outnumbered by the crows. Since crows attack as a group, owls are scared of them during the day. So, whenever a swarm of crows attacks a lone owl, the owl is not likely to fight back. It simply flees from the crows in order to avoid being killed. However, since owls are nocturnal, they’ll wait till it’s dark to attack while the crows are asleep.
Can Crows Kill Owls?
If they come across an owl during the day, crows may harass, peck, annoy, mob that owl, and sometimes may even cause death. A murder of enraged crows may attack and sometimes kill a roosting owl that is discovered in the daylight.
Usually, crows avoid killing owls during these chase, mob, and attack situations. The main goal of mobbing is to harass, irritate, and generally make their lives difficult. However, it is possible for a murder of crows to cause substantial harm to owls, possibly resulting in death.
Types Of Owls Which Get Attacked By Crows
Large owls, such as Great Horned Owls, Barred Owls, or Great Gray Owls, are typically the ones that are attacked and pursued by crows. Big owls which get attacked by crows include the following species:
- Barred Owls
- Blakiston’s Fish Owls
- Eurasian Eagle Owls
- Great Gray Owls
- Great Horned Owls
- Snowy Owls
Small owls, on the other hand, are very unlikely to be troubled by crows because they just don’t offer a significant threat. Small owls, which include species like the following:
- Burrowing Owls
- Elf Owls
- Pygmy Owls
- Saw-whet Owls
In addition to size, an owl’s nesting method is another behavioral characteristic that may influence how frequently they are pursued and attacked by crows.
Do Owls Attack Crows?
Yes, larger owls like Great Horned Owls and Barred Owls have been known to attack and eat crow eggs, chicks, and adults, especially at night when crows are defenseless. For instance, Great Horned Owls often leave the bodies of the dead, beheaded crows behind. Even though owls have sharp, hooked talons and meat-tearing beaks, they do not use them to fight crows. On the other hand, the Arctic resident Snow Owl, whose wingspan rivals that of a falcon, may capture large animals in midair.
Why Do Owls Attack Crows?
In search of a quick meal, owls may prey on crows’ nests. However, the majority of owls do not specifically look for hatchlings to prey upon. The larger owl species like the Great Horned Owl, Barred Owl, and others are most prone to attack crows’ roosting areas. Except for their partners, owls live alone and become aggressively territorial during their mating season.
Can Owls Kill Crows?
Large owls, such as Great Horned Owls, are known for killing and eating crows on occasion, but this accounts for a very small portion of their diet. Usually, owls prefer to eat small animals such as mice, chipmunks, squirrels, and even rabbits, with very rare attempts to hunt birds when the opportunity arises.
Who Is More Likely To Win In A Battle?
Now that we know much more about these two rival birds, it’ll be easier to decide who would win in a battle. Surprisingly, the answer is quite straightforward. They are both equally matched, which is why these two have been fighting this generational war for so long. Owls are physically stronger and are driven by hunger. Typically, owls can easily prevail in one-on-one combat and win extra food or territory. Crows, on the other hand, rarely travel or hunt alone in the wild.
One lone owl can’t compete with a murder of crows. Crows are the undisputed winners in this conflict that has lasted for countless generations due to their superior intelligence, long memory, and mob mentality. Although an owl might prevail in a particular battle, crows usually triumph by driving away the larger bird. Nobody is completely clear why this conflict is still going on, though, and it shows no signs of ending.
However, you would be mistaken to believe that the crow always prevails. According to a report, a Great Horned Owl had predated on a crow roost a couple of years earlier. The identity of the predator was recognized since there were nine dead crows on the ground in excellent shape except for the tops of their heads being gone and the brains being eaten. The Great Horned Owl is known for being in complete control of the night. For this largest and most powerful owl in North America, the roosting crows were simple prey.
That’s All, Folks!
Crows and owls will never get along, just like hyenas and lions. The crows will harass sleeping owls during the day, but when the owls go out at night to hunt, it’s the other way around. Crows will rarely see owls because of the fact that they are active at different times of the day. Nonetheless, if owls are seen during the day, a murder of crows will attack them. Owls may launch a counterattack while crows are sleeping at night.
Hyeat is the founder of Birds Indeed, a blog dedicated to all things avian. With a passion for birds and a deep understanding of their behavior, Hyeat shares their knowledge and experiences with readers. Join Hyeat on their journey to learn more about the diverse and beautiful world of birds.