Owls are more than just cute balls of feathers! They play an important part in our ecosystem!

Right now there is a trend in “owl-love”. People think they’re so cute and decorate everything from paper-products, to clothes, to wall art with rather cartoony looking owls. Is there anything wrong with that – NO!

Owls definitely are super cute, but they are so much more than just fluffy balls of feathers. They are important parts of our ecosystem and food web.

Barred Owls are general predators that eat more than just rodents. They will also eat lizards, frogs, snakes, and salamanders!
Barred Owls are general predators that eat more than just rodents. They will also eat lizards, frogs, snakes, and salamanders!

These nighttime raptors are Apex Predators. This means that not only do they eat animals lower on the food chain, but they also eat other predators, such as insect-eating birds, weasels, bats, and shrews. Owls themselves are predated upon by almost nothing. They die from natural (or man-made) causes.

Rodents – one of the main food sources of owls – can cause many problems. They can get into our houses (I have a mouse in my walls that I’ve named Fievel), eat our food, and spread diseases. Amazingly enough, one Barn Owl can eat up to 1,000 rodents each year! Imagine a whole population (over 1,000 Barn Owls have been banded in PA) not playing their part – that’s a whole bunch of rodents running around that we wouldn’t have had otherwise! By eating mice, rats, and other rodents, owls are helping to decrease some of the negative impacts that these pest species can have on humans.

The Great Eagle Owl may not be found in American, but it's relative, the Great Horned Owl does!
The Great Eagle Owl may not be found in America, but it’s relative, the Great Horned Owl does!

Not only can owls help to reduce problems for humans, but they can also reduce problems (specifically those of the genetic kind) in their prey populations. By eating animals that are too slow or weak to evade capture, the owls are getting rid of the “weakest-links.”  This can help to ensure that overall prey population is healthy and strong.

While we may not see these nocturnal raptors often, we can definitely appreciate the benefits that they have on our ecosystem!

Eastern Screech Owl
The Eastern Screech Owl is similar to the Barred Owl in that it is also a general predator eating insects, crustaceans, amphibians, reptiles, and other small mammals!

Do you need more of these elusive species in your life? I don’t blame you! Add any of these photos to your collection today. I would recommend getting a framed and matted set of 5x7s, so your favorite fluffy birds can be seen even during the day OR – Check out my Products page to learn how to place an order for anything you can imagine and use these photo names:

  • The Eyes of a Screech Owl
  • Owl or Ewok?
  • Great Eagle Owl
  • Screech Owl Portrait

Interested in learning more about owls and the role that they play? Click these links!

Owls and the Food Chain

Rodent Impact on Agriculture

Barn Owl Populations

Eating a Mus musculus


2 Comments on “Owls – More than just cute, fluffy birdies!”

  1. Pingback: I want Owls in my yard! What exactly makes a “good” owl habitat? – blogbcas

  2. Pingback: Snakes – Maybe not your cup of tea, but SUPER important! – The Art of Ecology

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