1. Homepage
  2. »
  3. Blog
  4. »
  5. Can Owls Walk? (Yes! Here’s How)

Can Owls Walk? (Yes! Here’s How)

can owls walk

Can Owls Walk? (Yes! Here’s How)

Birds are unique creatures in many ways. They are the earliest two-leg species to survive until the modern era.

Some birds have the ability to operate on three different mediums. Land, air, and water.

What about owls – can owls walk?

The short answer is yes. Owls can walk. Yet, owls rarely walk on the ground unless they are weak or injured. Also, walking on the ground exposes them to potential predators. Most owl species would only come to the ground in order to catch their prey.

Do owls walk or hop?

Owls can both walk and hop. But when they are on the ground, they prefer walking compared to hopping. Yet, owls are rarely seen standing or walking on the ground.

These raptor birds most of the time are either roosting in abandoned buildings or standing still on top of trees, scanning for prey. And they would only come near the ground when they are in hunting mode.

How fast can owls walk?

Even though it seems like owls have short legs, they actually have long and slender legs. Most owls have their legs covered with feathers, and they are rarely seen. Yet, underneath the feather are powerful legs, which are their main tools for hunting.

The burrowing owl is one of the rare owls that hunt directly from the ground. As a result, this species can walk/run quite fast. These small birds of prey catch their prey by chasing them from the ground.

However, the vast majority of owl species wouldn’t spend any unnecessary time on the ground.

Can owls walk backward?

Yes, owls can walk backward with no problem. These birds of prey have two talons facing forward, and two backward.

These feet’ structure provides owls good balance and allows them to walk in different directions with ease.

Read Also: What Colors Can Owls Be?

Why do some birds walk and others hop?

The majority of birds can both walk and hop. Scientists believe that range of neck mobility and vision range play significant roles in birds’ ways of moving on the ground.

Birds like owls, who have 270-degree neck mobility are always aware of the potential danger around them, which gives them the confidence to walk.

The same goes for pigeons. Even though they do not have wide-range neck motion, they do have the ability to see an almost full circle around their head.

On the other side, birds that are unable to rotate their heads more than 180 degrees, or that have a low-degree field of view will hop more frequently.

Another reason why birds choose hopping rather than walking is energy efficiency.

Smaller birds are the ones who usually hop. One hop can cover more distances than walking with their tiny legs. On the flip side, larger birds prefer walking.

However, in both ways, the main goal is to save energy.

Why do some birds walk funny?

When walking birds groove their heads in a “funny” way. But why do they do it? The main reason is that because birds are trying to maintain their body balance while they are on the move.

Also bobbing with their heads gives birds better depth perception, which helps them to stay alert and scan the area for dangers around them, while they walk.

Which birds can’t walk?

  • Swifts – spend almost entirely their lives in the air, flying. Their small feet make them unable to hop neither walk.
  • Loons – are unable to walk properly due to their leg position. Their legs are positioned towards the back of their body, which makes them great swimmers, but poor walkers.
  • Grebes – are terrific swimmers and divers, but walking is their weak side. These waterbirds can do short burst runs. Yet, their lobbed feet are placed far back on the body which makes it difficult for them to walk without falling over.
  • Hummingbirds – these small birds are the only species that can fly in every direction. Forward, backward, sideways, up and down. Mother nature has rewarded them to be prolific flyers since they can’t walk – due to their tiny and weak legs.

Final thoughts

In conclusion, owls can walk without a problem. Owls’ nocturnal lifestyle and hunting style make their presence on the ground rare. Spending too much time walking on the ground increases the chances of being caught by other predators.

When they are on the ground, owls rather walk than hop. Their feet structure with four talons makes owls good and stable walkers, and they are capable of going in different directions.

If you liked this article, you may also be interested in similar bird articles. Here are some recommended ones:

Do owls have knees?

Can you eat owl?

Do seagulls fly at night?

Do seagulls have ears?

Related articles