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Baby Owl: Beginner's Guide To An Owlet's Birth & Growth

Written by Garrett Hayes

Last updated on Mar 29th, 2024

Owls are spooky and secretive but cute in their own way. Not the most conventional trio of traits, but they pull it off nicely. Many people will only hear their eerie hoots throughout their lifetime, but may never spot one.


If you’re lucky to find one from time to time, you still are unlikely to see the fluffy baby owls. 

Basically, if the difficulty of seeing an owl is intermediate, consider that of baby owls extra hard. Of course, not considering seen baby owl pictures

In this guide, I'll describe everything you need to know about baby owl and their characteristics.

Baby Owl Identification

Baby Owls

They frequently spot a heart-shaped head and round, black eyes that resemble buttons. The fluff has a beak that resembles a hook.

Most baby owls are incredibly fluffy, typically carrying a thick coat of soft grey or white feathers.

The pointed protrusion, which looks like an extra beak — on the baby owls' beak is known as an egg tooth, and it permits them to penetrate the egg as it is hatching. These vanish within a week or so following hatching.

Some young owls will have an unusual appearance, particularly Barn owls, which can have rather prominent long faces that contrast with their white, soft bodies.

Baby Owls Size

Owls perching in a tree

Even the giant owls, such as the Great Horned Owls, Eurasian Eagle, and Snowy Owls, have relatively small owlets compared to how big they grow into adults. 

Snowy owl chicks, for instance, are only a little 6.5cm (2.5 inches) tall but reach a height of roughly 2.5 feet when fully mature.

Great Horned owls, only about 3 inches tall at birth, experience a similar situation.

Although they are among the smallest and most defenseless of all young birds, little owl chicks grow at an astounding rate.

The initial few days of life are vitally crucial to long-term survival, one of the characteristics of birds of prey.

Baby Owls Weight

The babies of giant owl species weigh barely 40g to 60g (2 ounces) at birth.

For example, a  duckling weighs about 50g, while a typical chicken chick weighs around 30g. A young owl of Great Horned owl weighs just about 35g (1.2oz). In general, owlets are rather small.

The Elf and Pygmy owls, the two tiniest owls in the world, are barely 40g (0.15 ounce)  when fully mature, and their chick weighs 4g (0.14 ounce). They don't even compare in size to a bumblebee.

Baby Owl Group Name 

Owl groupie shot inside a tree

A group of owls is called a congress or parliament. 

Two to three baby owls are called a brood of owlets. It is scarce to see a group of owls in the wild.

Owls lay their eggs in tiny clutches. The average number of eggs laid by owls in a clutch is 4 to 6, while some species may produce as few as 1 to 3 or as many as 10 to 12 eggs, depending on the season.

In general, owls only raise a limited number of chicks in underground nests, and the young leave the nest after one to three months to become independent.

This is why seeing young owls together is so uncommon, even from the same perch.

Baby Owls Group Movement

It is rare to see baby owls flock together. Owls tend to live lonely lives, keeping to themselves in monogamous partnerships.

Some species, like the Tawny and Burrowing owls, flock together and live in small groups for at least a part of the year. 

Owlets may occasionally mingle outside of their family units. 

When young owls leave the nest after at most 12 weeks, they become solitary and independent.

Baby Owls Diet

Mature owl running toward camera

Owls are carnivores, meaning they only consume meat.  While smaller owls are more likely to feed on insects, arthropods, and tiny rodents, adult owls typically consume mammals, reptiles, birds, and fish.

Baby owls eat anything their parents feed them. They'll rip the food into bite-sized pieces that the baby birds can swallow.

Owl Eggs Incubation Period

Many species' eggs, especially barn owls typically hatch after 30 to 35 days. For instance, the eggs of the Little, Barn owl, barred owl, and Snowy owls hatch after 31 to 33 days. It could take 35 days for eagle owl eggs to hatch.

The average hatching time for all owls appears to be 32 days. Additionally, this is also the same for all prey birds.

Owl Reproduction

Owl about to land on  a protruding rock.

Usually not earlier than March, owls deposit their eggs in the spring.

Some species, like the uncommon Blakiston's fish owl and barred owl, may not lay eggs yearly; instead, they may skip a whole year if the winter is harsh and they cannot find enough food to eat.

Other species, like the Great Horned and Barred owls, are known for laying their eggs early in the year, occasionally even in the middle of winter, January, and February.

These eggs are incubated at shallow temperatures; owls may do it even in conditions as cold as -35°F (-37°C).

In times of scarcity, the female may go hunting with the male, leaving the eggs unattended in harsh colds.

Baby Owl Growth

Owl peeking through a tree crevice.

Some species of owls like the Burrowing owls, Screech owls, take a little over a month for their young to be able to fly, but other species, like the burrowing owl, the Great Horned owl, can take up to two and a half months.

A baby owl is notable for how fast it becomes independent of its parents.

Like many birds of prey, owls are "born ready" and mature swiftly. Unlike other prey birds, they learn to fly and hunt instinctively rather than learning from their parents.

Baby Owls Fledgling Period 

Owl flashing one of its cutest smiles on camera.
Owl flashing one of its cutest smiles on camera.

Unlike other bird species, baby owls, for example, baby barred owls, leave their nests quite quickly, some do so as early as four weeks.

Other owl species like barn owl owlets that remain with their parents for ten weeks will spend more time in their nests.

This is a quick transition compared to other birds, who frequently stay with their parents at least through the rest of the spring and summer.

Baby Owl Breeding Period

 Owl in flight early morning

Baby owls, especially the barn owl, only spend briefly with their parents, perhaps as little as one month. When a bird of prey is young, it is common for them to quickly separate from their parents and establish their territories before winter.

BirdingHub Talk: Baby owls deserve only the best especially when it comes to shelter. Read our related post to learn more -- Best Owl Nesting Box.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Here I’ll answer some common questions about baby owls.

Why do baby owls, especially barn owls, sleep with their heads down?

Some baby owls have been sleeping partially relaxed with their heads pointing down toward the ground. This is because their big, hefty heads can't even support them during the first few days of life!

How do baby owls learn to hunt?

Baby owls hunt purely out of instinct and receive very little training or instruction in the art of hunting. After leaving the nest, young owls must go hunting on their own.

Read Also: Owl Spirit Animal Meaning


Baby owls have unique body features and are amazing creatures. Baby owls take responsibility for themselves. They don’t need lessons to learn hunting skills and are courageous. These are part of the reasons I love them. Tell me why you won't love them.

Read this guide to learn about the baby owl's amazing qualities and characteristics.

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