Which Owls Hunt During The Day?


Most owl species are nocturnal, meaning they hunt at night and sleep during the day

. However, there are a few owl species that are active during the day and are called diurnal owls. These include the Northern Hawk Owl and the Northern Pygmy Owl. Some owls are also crepuscular, meaning they are most active during the twilight hours of dawn and dusk. For example, the Snowy Owl and Great Horned Owl are crepuscular. It is worth noting that some owls can vary their sleep and waking hours to feed at any hour of the day, depending on prey availability.

What Are Some Distinguishing Features Or Adaptations Of Owls That Enable Them To Hunt During The Day?

Owls have several distinguishing features and adaptations that enable them to hunt during the day.

These include:

  • Camouflage: Owls use their feathers to blend in with their environment and remain undetected.

    For example, snowy owls have white feathers that help them hide in their snowy habitat, while flammulated owls have dark feathers that help them blend in with the trees.
  • Silent flight: Owls have specialized feathers on their wings that muffle the sound of air passing through, allowing them to fly silently and sneak up on prey.
  • Facial discs: Some owl species, such as barn owls and great grey owls, have flat faces with disc-like sections on the front.

    These discs help funnel the sound of their prey moving from the front of the face toward the ear, enabling them to hunt blind.
  • Excellent hearing: Owls rely on their highly sensitive hearing for hunting, in addition to their exceptional eyesight.

    Their ears are asymmetrical, with one ear higher than the other, which allows them to pinpoint the location of their prey.
  • Large forward-facing eyes: Owls have large eyes set forward on their heads, which gives them great depth perception for hunting.

    The retinas of their eyes are packed with low light-sensitive rods to see in low light.
  • Sharp talons: Owls have sharp talons that are great for grabbing prey on the fly.

How Does The Hunting Behavior Of Daytime-Hunting Owls Differ From Nocturnal-Hunting Owls?

Most owl species are nocturnal, meaning they are active at night.

However, there are some owl species that are diurnal, meaning they are active during the day.

For example, the northern hawk owl and the northern pygmy owl are diurnal and hunt for meals during the daytime.

Some owl species are active during both the day and night, as well as the crepuscular times of dawn and dusk, when many prey are active.
The hunting behavior of daytime-hunting owls differs from nocturnal-hunting owls in terms of the time of day they hunt for prey.

Daytime-hunting owls, such as the northern hawk owl and the northern pygmy owl, are active during the day and hunt for meals then.

Nocturnal-hunting owls, such as the great horned owl and the barn owl, are active at night and hunt for meals then.

However, some owls may switch up their feeding schedule depending on food availability.

Are There Specific Species Of Daytime-Hunting Owls That Are Particularly Notable Or Well-Known For Their Hunting Strategies?

Yes, there are specific species of daytime-hunting owls that are notable for their hunting strategies.

Here are some examples:

  • Snowy Owls: These owls are diurnal and must be able to hunt throughout the continuously bright days of summer in northern latitudes.
  • Northern Pygmy-Owls: These owls hunt small birds during the day in western mountain forests.
  • Burrowing Owls: Although they mostly hunt at night, these owls are often seen outside their burrows in daylight.
  • Northern Hawk Owls: These owls use a hunting technique called “perch and pounce,” where they perch until they see their prey, then glide down upon it.
  • Great Horned Owls: These owls are mostly nocturnal but hunt at dusk and during the night from a perch, while flying low over the ground, walking on the ground, or from the air.
  • Miosurnia diurna: This ancient owl species was diurnal, meaning it was most active during the daytime.
  • Northern Pygmy Owl: This is another diurnal owl species that is active during the day.

Helpful Resources