Do Owls Hunt In Pairs?


No, owls do not hunt in pairs.

According to Avian Report, barn owls hunt alone and do not defend their hunting grounds.

There may be more than one barn owl foraging at the same area and time without being associated with one another

. Similarly, the Owl Research Institute explains that owls hunt in various ways, such as perch and pounce or quartering flight, but they generally hunt close to the ground so that they can more easily hear and see their prey.

Owls may benefit from sharing the same roost, but this is poorly understood. The Barn Owl Trust also notes that barn owls hunt alone, and they have excellent adaptations for successful hunting.

They are generally most active at dusk and dawn, typically leaving their roost site and commuting across unsuitable habitat to reach a favored hunting area such as a patch of rough grassland. The Great Horned Owl, another type of owl, hunts alone as well, and pairs are monogamous and may stay together for five years or more.

How Does The Hunting Behavior Of Owls Differ When They Hunt Alone Compared To When They Hunt In Pairs?

There are several types of owls, and their hunting behavior can vary depending on the species.

Here are some general observations about owl hunting behavior:

  • Barn Owls: These owls are most active at dusk and dawn and rely mostly on sound to locate prey.

    They fly low and slowly back and forth across suitable habitat until they hear a small mammal below.

    Before pouncing, they will often hover, waiting for the perfect moment.

    When a Barn Owl strikes, it starts with a head-first dive before pulling its head back and replacing the facial disk with out-stretched talons – ready to grab the prey.
  • Burrowing Owls: These owls prefer to hunt on foot, pursuing their prey by walking.

    They will hunt for larger prey, like voles and other tiny mammals, when smaller prey is difficult to catch.

    During the winter, pairs split up and individuals “fly solo”.
  • Most Owls: Most owls roost alone or near a nest during the breeding season.

    However, there are a few species that roost communally or share a roosting area with other individuals of the same species.

    Owls return to a resting place, called a roost, at the end of a day or night spent hunting.

    The roost is commonly located next to good hunting grounds so owls can search for prey as soon as they leave or return to the roost.

    Mating owls spend a great deal of time together, and they may rub their bills across each other’s heads and facial discs.
  • Barred Owls: Members of a pair often call back and forth to each other, and courtship involves both male and female bobbing and bowing heads, raising wings, and calling while perched close together.

    Male may feed female in courtship.

    Members of a pair often call in duet.

    Nest site is in large natural hollow in tree, broken-off snag, or on the old nest of hawk, crow, or squirrel.

    Rarely nests on the ground.

    In the east, they often use old Red-shouldered Hawk nests; hawk and owl may use the same nest in alternate years.

Are There Specific Owl Species That Are More Likely To Hunt In Pairs, Or Is It A Common Behavior Across All Owl Species?

Owls are typically solitary creatures, rarely seen in groups or pairs.

However, some species will form small flocks, usually consisting of no more than five members of the same family or species.

Barn owls, burrowing owls, and short-eared owls are the species most likely to form small flocks.

During the breeding season, owls are generally only found in pairs or alone.

Outside of the breeding season (fall and winter), they are more likely to form groups and roost communally to stay warm during the cold winter months and to keep themselves safe from predators.

However, most owl species live on their own, in a pair with their mate, or with other family members, but living with other family members may only be until young owls reach the age of independence.

It is generally considered that there needs to be at least three to five owls together to be considered a flock.

Therefore, while some owl species may form small flocks, it is not a common behavior across all owl species.

What Are Some Advantages Or Benefits For Owls To Hunt In Pairs, And How Does It Improve Their Hunting Success Compared To Hunting Alone?

Owls are known to hunt alone, but they can also hunt in pairs.

Here are some advantages or benefits for owls to hunt in pairs, and how it improves their hunting success compared to hunting alone:

  • Mobbing songbirds and predators: Owls that share the same roost can watch for mobbing songbirds and predators, which can alert them to potential prey.
  • Warmth: Owls may huddle together to keep each other warm when sharing the same roost.
  • Increased hunting success: Owls that hunt in pairs can increase their hunting success by working together to capture prey.

    For example, they can use a “hopscotch” technique through the woods, alternating hooting to scare prey into moving, and using their keen vision and sharp claws to capture prey.
  • Improved defense: Owls can use their curved, sharp claws and robust beaks to defend themselves and tear apart predators and prey.

    Hunting in pairs can provide additional defense against predators.
  • Improved hunting efficiency: Owls that hunt in pairs can also improve their hunting efficiency by dividing up tasks.

    For example, one owl may focus on searching for prey while the other owl focuses on capturing it.

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