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Are Owls Friendly? (Do They Like Humans?)

are owls friendly?

Are Owls Friendly? (Do They Like Humans?)

Hoot, hoot! Hey there, owl enthusiasts! Are you ready to dive deep into the world of our feathered friends?

Today, our burning question is: Are owls friendly toward humans, or are they more likely to give us the cold shoulder?

To learn the truth about these nocturnal creatures, we’ll examine the facts about owl behavior toward humans in this article.

Are Owls Friendly to Humans?

No, owls are not typically known for their friendliness toward humans. Owls are wild birds of prey naturally inclined towards aggression rather than friendly behavior.

Like most animals in the wild, owls tend to avoid human contact. This is natural behavior, as non-domesticated animals instinctively steer clear of human habitats and activities to minimize potential threats to their safety and survival.

Also, because of their timid personality and nocturnal lifestyle, we rarely even have the chance to encounter wild owls. The majority of owl species are active during the night while roosting throughout the day.

Do Owls Like Humans?

Owls are wild animals and do not have the ability to like or dislike humans in the same way that humans can have preferences for other people or animals. 

Yet, in case owls are exposed to humans from a young age, they may become accustomed to their presence and may not perceive them as a threat.

Still, it’s important to note that while some owls may appear comfortable in close proximity to humans, it is not natural for them to become too familiar with people. 

Interacting with owls or any other wild creature can be dangerous for both the animal and the human involved, as wild animals can become aggressive due to their unpredictable nature.

Reasons Why Owls Are Not Friendly

There are several reasons why owls are not naturally predisposed to be nice to people.

Solitary Nature

Most owls live solitary lives, and it’s simply not in their nature to engage in friendly or affectionate behavior. Unlike flock birds, which are used to living in groups, owls avoid being in the presence of other animals, even those of their own kind.

Owls prefer to hunt and roost alone, which can make them less accustomed to social interactions with humans. In fact, owls are one of the least social bird species on the planet.

Predatory Instincts

Another reason why owls are not friendly towards humans is their predatory instincts. Owls have evolved to be predators with finely tuned hunting skills that help them survive in the wild. 

While these instincts are essential for their survival, they are also the reason why they are less inclined to display friendly behavior toward humans. Owls may perceive humans as potential predators or threats, leading them to respond with aggression or fear.


Owls are known for being quite territorial birds and will attack any potential intruder, especially if they are near their chicks.

This can include swooping down and attacking anything or anyone that they see as a threat. 


Owls are instinctively wary of anything that appears to be a threat or a risk. We, humans, can be quite intimidating and loud, so they tend to avoid us whenever possible.

Additionally, their ability to camouflage and nocturnal lifestyle make them hard to spot, further contributing to their shy nature.

Related Article: Are Owls Smart?

Least Friendly Owls Species

Snowy Owls

Snowy owls are big owl species that inhabit the North Pole regions but are sometimes seen in the United and Canada.

For many people, snowy owls are the most beautiful owl species because of their unique white feathers. And while they may be stunning to look at, don’t let their good looks trick you!

These white owls can rage quickly when it comes to defending their territory or nests. In fact, they are known to be quite aggressive towards humans and even wolves that come too close to their young ones.

If you ever find yourself in the vicinity of a snowy owl nest, it’s best to stay away to avoid any potential confrontations.

Barred Owls

Barred owls are one of the most vocal owl species out there but are also known to be one of the least friendly. Regarding human encounters, they are not to be underestimated.

During nesting seasons, barred owls can become incredibly territorial and will not hesitate to attack if they perceive a threat, especially to their offspring. They have been known to target faces and hands when attacking.

Females, in particular, are protective of their chicks and will attack any potential intruders, regardless of their size.

Great Horned Owls

Great horned owls, also known as tiger owls, are one of the largest species in the world, known for their fierce predatory skills capable of preying on large animals. These giant owls eat snakes, rabbits, hawks, reptiles, and even other owls.

Native to South and North America, tiger owls are thought to be among the most dangerous owl species because of their reputation for being extremely aggressive.

Solitary, territorial, and aggressive, great horned owls will protect their territory against any perceived threats, including humans.

Can You Have Owls as Pets?

The question of whether owls make good pets is one that comes up quite often. While they do indeed look cute and cuddly, there are several reasons why they are not the ideal choice for a pet.

First and foremost, owls are high-maintenance birds. They are carnivorous and need fresh meat daily, making them quite costly to care for. 

Also, do you remember that owls are also nocturnal animals? Well, that means they are active at night and can be quite noisy, particularly during mating season.

Another issue with keeping owls as pets is that they can be pretty destructive. Equipped with sharp talons, they can damage furniture and other items in your home. 

It’s also important to note that it is illegal for most people in the United States to keep an owl in a captive setting. Owls are protected by the law and can only be kept as pets by those who have undergone special training and obtained the necessary licenses.

But perhaps most crucially, owls can be dangerous. They are natural predators led by their instincts, and they have the potential to harm people severely.

So, while the idea of keeping an owl as a pet may seem like an interesting one, it’s probably not the smartest one!


Do Owls Show Affection to Humans?

No, owls are not typically known for being affectionate toward humans. Being wild animals, owls cannot form emotional bonds with people. However, captive owls may exhibit behaviors that humans interpret as affection, such as grooming, preening, or nuzzling. Still, these behaviors are usually more about maintaining their feathers and communicating with others than expressing love or affection.

Do Owls Recognize Faces?

A study suggests that only three avian species, including crows, mockingbirds, and magpies, have demonstrated the cognitive ability to recognize individual humans in the wild. In contrast, there is currently no evidence to support the idea that owls have the capacity to recognize human faces.

Do Owls Like Being Petted?

Like most wild and captive birds, owls do not enjoy being petted, although they may tolerate it. One reason for their dislike is that cuddling can disturb their feathers. As a result, birds typically prefer not to be petted and need to groom themselves to restore their feathers to their normal condition.

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