A Snowy Owl spotting its prey while flying.

Can Owls Attack Humans? Discover the Truth. Read Now! 

Can Owls Attack Humans? You might think that these cute and fluffy birds are harmless, but think again! In this article, we explore whether owls are capable of attacking humans and the circumstances that might provoke them to do so. Find out the surprising truth and don’t miss out on this eye-opening read!

Can Owls Attack Humans?

Yes, owls are capable of attacking humans if they feel threatened or if they perceive humans as a threat to their young. This is especially true for species such as the great horned owl, which is known for its aggressive behavior. 

However, such attacks are rare and can be prevented by avoiding nesting sites, giving the owl plenty of space, and not disturbing them during their active hunting times at night.

A western Siberian eagle owl flying fast.
Photo by Zdeněk Macháček on Unsplash

What We Know About Owls

Owls are mysterious creatures that have been around for centuries, but many of us don’t know much about them. We know that they are nocturnal and carnivorous, and that they have excellent eyesight and hearing. 

We know they are incredibly silent when they fly and have the ability to rotate their heads up to 270 degrees, giving them an unparalleled view of the world. We also know that owls come in a variety of sizes, colors, and shapes. 

However, one question that often comes up is: Can owls really attack humans? In this blog we will explore this question in more detail.

What Are the Different Types of Owls?

Owls are fascinating creatures, but many people don’t realize just how many different types of owls there are in the world. There are over 200 species of owls, and each species has its own distinct characteristics. 

The most common species of owl are barn owls, great horned owls, snowy owls, and northern saw-whet owls. Barn owls are known for their distinctive heart-shaped faces and mottled brown and white feathers. 

Great horned owls are large, powerful birds with prominent ear tufts and yellow eyes. Snowy owls have white feathers and black markings, and they are found in colder climates. 

Northern saw-whet owls are small and reddish-brown, and they are known for their loud, high-pitched calls.

Do Owls Attack Humans?

When it comes to whether or not owls attack humans, the answer is both yes and no. While it’s true that owls can and do attack humans, the cases are rare and the attacks are usually only in self-defense. 

Owls are wild birds, and like any wild animal, they will defend themselves if they feel threatened or cornered. But the reality is that most owls will try to avoid contact with humans as much as possible.

short-eared owl
Image by cadop from Pixabay

What Are the Reasons Owls May Attack Humans?

When it comes to owls, one of the questions that often comes up is whether or not they can attack humans. While it is true that owls can and do attack humans, it is generally not unprovoked and there are certain circumstances which can lead to an owl attacking a person. 

So what are the reasons why an owl may attack a human? One of the main reasons is that the owl may feel threatened or scared. Owls are incredibly territorial and if they feel threatened in any way, they may attack. 

This could be due to a person being too close to their nest or even trying to touch them. Owls may also attack if they are protecting their young or if they feel that their food source is being threatened. In some cases, owls may also attack humans if they feel they are being provoked in some way.

Will an Owl Attack Unprovoked?

When most people think of owls, they think of wise creatures that are harmless and stay out of the way. But it is important to remember that owls are wild animals, and like any other wild animal, they may attack if they feel threatened or provoked. The question then arises, will an owl attack unprovoked? 

The answer is yes, an owl may attack unprovoked, but it is not a common occurrence. Generally, wild animals will only attack when they feel threatened or provoked, so the chances of an owl attacking someone without provocation are slim.

It is important to remember that if you do encounter an owl, it is best to stay calm and give the bird plenty of space to fly away.

How to Avoid an Attack from an Owl

Owls are majestic creatures of the night, but they can be dangerous if provoked. If you’re wondering how to avoid an attack from an owl, there are some simple steps you can take. First and foremost, never approach an owl. 

Owls are wild animals and, like any other wild animal, they can be unpredictable. So, if you spot an owl, observe it from a distance. If it’s nesting, don’t try to get too close as it may feel threatened. Secondly, never attempt to feed an owl. 

While it may seem like a kind gesture, it can actually lead to the owl becoming too accustomed to humans and may make them more likely to attack. Finally, if you’re out in the woods at night, avoid making too much noise. 

Owls are very sensitive to sound, so any loud noises may cause them to become aggressive. By following these simple steps, you can avoid an attack from an owl and enjoy watching these incredible creatures from a safe distance.

A Boreal Owl perched in a tree.
Image by davidpotrony from Pixabay

What Are the Signs an Owl May Attack?

When it comes to owls attacking humans, there is no definitive answer as to why they would do so. However, there are certain signs that might indicate an owl may be planning to attack. 

The most common sign is a loud screech or hooting noise, followed by the owl flying close to your head. If the owl seems to be flying in circles around you, it could be a sign of aggression. You may also notice the owl flapping its wings rapidly as it moves closer to you. If the owl is staring directly at you, this could also be a sign that an attack is imminent. 

Additionally, if you see the owl gathering twigs or other materials for its nest, it could mean it is preparing to defend its territory. In any case, if you feel threatened by an owl’s presence, it is best to move away from the area.

Can Owls Cause Serious Injury? 

When it comes to owls attacking humans, it’s true that they are capable of causing serious injury. Owls have strong talons and powerful beaks that they use to grab and hold their prey. 

They can use these same tools to inflict serious cuts and scratches on humans if they feel threatened. Owls also have sharp claws that can cause puncture wounds and even deep lacerations if they are used in an attack.

In some cases, an owl may even break a person’s bones if they are defending themselves or trying to protect their young. It’s important to remember that owls are wild animals and should be treated with respect and caution.

How Can We Protect Ourselves From Owls? 

It’s important to remember that while owls can attack humans, it is extremely rare and they usually only do so when provoked. Taking a few simple steps can help to protect yourself from an owl attack. 

Firstly, you should always be aware of your surroundings when you are outdoors, especially if you are in an area where owls live. If you see an owl, give it a wide berth and avoid approaching it. If an owl does approach you, don’t panic, but instead back away slowly. 

It’s important to remain calm and not make any sudden movements, as this could provoke the owl or cause it to feel threatened. You should also avoid wearing bright colors or anything that could be mistaken for prey. 

Finally, if you are in an area where owls are known to live, it’s recommended that you use a loud voice to scare away any owl that may be in the vicinity.

A long-eared owl.
Image by Kevin from Pixabay

What to Do if an Owl Does Attack

If an owl does attack, it is important to remain calm and take the necessary steps to protect yourself. First, it is important to assess the situation and determine the best course of action. 

If the owl is coming in close contact, it is best to cover your head with your arms and back away slowly. It is important to avoid making any sudden movements, as this may further agitate the owl. 

Make sure to avoid eye contact, as owls are territorial and may interpret this as a challenge. It is also important to stay away from the owl’s nest and young, as this may further drive the owl to attack.

If you are able to, remove yourself from the area as quickly as possible. If the owl follows you, make yourself appear larger by using an umbrella or a garbage can lid and make loud noises. 

If the owl does not back off, seek help from a professional or call animal control.

What Do Experts Recommend? 

Experts recommend that when in the presence of owls, it’s best to keep your distance and not try to approach or handle them. Owls can become agitated if they feel threatened and may attack. 

It’s important to remember that owls are wild animals and can behave unpredictably. If you are near an owl, it’s best to remain calm and move away slowly. 

It’s also important to be aware of your surroundings and to make sure that no humans or pets are in the vicinity of the owl. 

If you’re in an area where owls are known to frequent, it’s best to wear protective clothing and have a plan for safely leaving the area if an owl is spotted.

A snowy owl eating prey on the ground in the snow.
Photo by Jongsun Lee on Unsplash

FAQs About Do Owls Attack Humans

Are owls safe to be around?

Owls can be safe to be around if they are not disturbed or provoked. However, some species can become aggressive if they feel threatened or perceive humans as a threat to their young.

Are owls scared of humans?

Owls can be scared of humans, but it depends on the individual bird and the circumstances. Owls that are used to being around humans, such as those kept in captivity, may be less scared than wild owls.

Has there ever been an owl attack?

Yes, there have been documented cases of owl attacks on humans, although such incidents are rare. Most owl attacks occur when the bird feels threatened or perceives humans as a threat to their young.

What happens when an owl lands near you?

If an owl lands near you, it is best to give the bird plenty of space and not disturb it. Depending on the species, the owl may simply observe its surroundings or it may be hunting for prey.

Is it good to have owls around your house?

Yes, having owls around your house can be beneficial because they are natural predators of rodents and other pests. Owls can help to control populations of these animals and reduce the risk of damage to your property.

Do owl attacks hurt?

Yes, owl attacks can be painful and cause injuries such as scratches, cuts, and bruises. In some cases, owl attacks can also result in more serious injuries such as eye or facial injuries. It is important to seek medical attention if you are attacked by an owl.


In conclusion, owls can and do attack humans, although it is not a common occurrence. While owls are generally non-aggressive, they may become aggressive if they feel threatened or are protecting their nest or young. 

The best way to protect yourself from an owl attack is to avoid any direct contact with the owl and to keep your distance. If an owl does attack, it is important to remain calm and defend yourself without injuring the owl. 

If you have any questions or concerns, it is best to contact an expert for advice.

Takeaway Message

The takeaway message from this blog is that owls can indeed attack humans, but it is very rare. Owls are generally non-aggressive, but if you find yourself in the presence of an owl, there are certain precautions you can take to protect yourself. 

If an owl does attack, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible, as they can cause serious injury. 

Additionally, if you are in an area where owls live, such as a forest or park, be sure to be aware of your surroundings and take the necessary precautions to avoid any potential danger.


  • Vince S

    Meet Vince, the passionate founder and author of Learn Bird Watching, boasting 30 years of birding experience. With an unwavering mission to empower fellow bird enthusiasts, Vince shares invaluable wisdom and guidance. As a dedicated moderator and contributor to Quora's Bird Watchers' Club, he actively engages with the birding community, where his insightful answers have garnered over 440,000 views and over 2,670 upvotes. Whether you're a budding birder or a seasoned avian aficionado, his wealth of knowledge is at your service.