Do Owls Sit On The Ground?


Yes, owls can sit on the ground for various reasons. The main reasons why an owl would sit on the ground are:

  • Feeding/hunting
  • Sick
  • Trapped
  • Age

Owls may sit on the ground if they are hunting for food or if they are young fledglings getting used to flying and exploring and often their parents are keeping an eye on the owlet and will defend the owlet from harm if necessary.

Some owls, such as Burrowing Owls, commonly run across the ground after their prey.

Owls found on the ground that are a cause for concern are those that are sick or trapped and need some help with their escape and recovery.

It is also worth noting that young owlets may spend some time on the ground as they learn to fly.

According to, if it is a young owlet with a fuzzy head and body but has fully grown wing feathers and a stubby tail, it is a fledgling just learning to fly.

Spending some time on the ground is a normal part of their life, since it takes them days to weeks to learn how to fly well, depending on the species.

Mom and Dad are usually nearby taking care of them, whether you see them or not.

Are There Any Specific Owl Species That Prefer Sitting On The Ground Over Perching On Trees Or Other Elevated Surfaces?

Burrowing Owls are known to spend most of their time on the ground or on low perches such as fence posts, and they hunt close to the ground catching insects and small animals.

The Short-eared Owl is another species that often hunts close to the ground, hovering like a helicopter above prey until they are ready to zoom in on it, or running across the ground after their prey.

Some owl species that breed in open terrain are often ground nesters, such as the Snowy Owl, which uses a hollow in the ground that the female may attempt to scrape out and line with plant material, and the Burrowing Owl, which nests underground in holes dug mainly by burrowing mammals.

However, there is no evidence to suggest that any specific owl species prefer sitting on the ground over perching on trees or other elevated surfaces.

What Are Some Reasons Why An Owl Might Choose To Sit On The Ground Instead Of In A Tree Or On A Branch?

It is not common for owls to sit on the ground instead of in a tree or on a branch.

However, there are several reasons why an owl might choose to do so:

  • Hunting: Owls may hunt on the ground for small mammals, such as mice and voles, that live in burrows.
  • Resting: Owls may sit on the ground to rest during the day, especially if they are injured or sick.
  • Nesting: Owls may nest on the ground in areas with little vegetation or in burrows.
  • Avoiding predators: Owls may sit on the ground to avoid predators, such as larger birds or mammals, that may be in the trees or on branches.
    It is important to note that sitting on the ground can be dangerous for owls, as they are more vulnerable to predators and may be hit by cars or other vehicles.

    If you see an owl on the ground, it is best to leave it alone and contact a wildlife rehabilitation center if it appears injured or sick.

Are There Any Risks Or Dangers Associated With Owls Sitting On The Ground, Such As Increased Vulnerability To Predators Or Exposure To The Elements?

There are several risks and dangers associated with owls sitting on the ground, depending on the reason why they are there:

  • Increased vulnerability to predators: Owls that are sick or trapped and unable to fly are more vulnerable to predators when they are on the ground.
  • Exposure to the elements: Owls that are too young to fly or are injured may be exposed to the elements if they are on the ground for an extended period of time.
  • Risk of poisoning: Burrowing owls, in particular, are at risk of being poisoned by pesticides that are used to control ground squirrels and grasshoppers, which can also kill the animals and insects that the owls eat.
  • Habitat loss: Burrowing owls are endangered due to a lack of habitat, as much of their former habitat is being used for development.
    It is important to note that not all owls on the ground are in danger.

    Some owls may be hunting for food or may be young fledglings getting used to flying and exploring, and their parents may be keeping an eye on them and defending them from harm if necessary.

    However, if an owl is sick, trapped, or injured, it may need help with its escape and recovery.
    It is also worth noting that owls are wild creatures and are not suitable as pets.

    They are designed to hunt and kill small prey, and their sharp talons make them dangerous to humans who are not experienced and skilled in handling them.

    Owls kept in domestic settings are best off in outdoor aviaries, where they can become habituated to human presence but still have enough space to move around.

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