Do Owls Eat Chickens? 3 Ways To Protect Them

As backyard chicken owners, there are a lot of things to worry about. You have to worry about how much to feed them, if they are getting enough nutrition, and if they are in good health. Besides that, you also need to worry about predators. One of the predators that can be found around your chickens is owls. You may wonder if owls eat chickens.

So, do owls eat chickens? Yes, chickens are one of their favorite prey. Owls will eat the chickens whenever they get a chance to. This bird is quiet and fast, and able to swoop down and take the chicken away in a matter of seconds. If the chicken is too large, they will simply bite the head off of the chicken and eat just the head.

How Dangerous Are Owls to Chickens?

Owls are extremely dangerous to chickens. All species of the owl will swoop down and kill the chicken when an opportunity arises. They will usually bite the head of the chicken and take it back to their nest.

In the United States, the Snowy Owls and Great Horned Owl are the most common species of owl. These are two of the largest species of owl as well. They are capable of killing the chicken without any issue.

Besides chickens, they also prey on smaller birds, rodents, snakes, and other small animals.

The owls have long sharp talons which they will dig into the chicken. If the chicken isn’t too big, they’ll fly off with the whole chicken.

On the other hand, if the chicken is too big, they’ll bite the head off and carry the head away.

Owls are quick and able to swoop down and fly off with the chicken in seconds.

Do Owls Hunt at Night or Day?

Most owls are nocturnal, which means they are active only at night. This is the time when they are out hunting for prey.

However, there are a few owls that will hunt during the day as well.

Also, some owls will see an opportunity and will swoop down to kill the chicken during the day.

While most species of owl are nocturnal, you should always be aware of the surroundings at all times of the day.

Why Do Owls Bite the Heads off Chickens?

Nothing is worse than going to see your flocks and one of the chickens has its head bitten off. In an area that has owls, this is something many chicken owners will have to face. The main culprits will usually be an owl.

The reason why owls bite only the head of the chicken off is that a whole chicken is often too big and heavy. Owls are usually the same size

The reason why owls bite only the head of the chicken off is that a whole chicken is often too big and heavy. Owls are usually the same size as a chicken, and it will be too difficult for them to carry the whole chicken.

Instead, they will swoop down and bite the head off of the chicken. The brain is high in essential fats and protein, which they need as part of their diet.

How to Keep Owls Away From Chickens

Owls will hunt and kill the chickens whenever they get a chance to. Fortunately, there are ways in which you can help protect your chickens from the owls.

Below are some of the methods to secure the chickens:

Cover Their Run With a Roof

A run will usually not have any cover over it. While it’s safe from predators on the ground, the chickens will not be safe from predators from above.

To ensure owls don’t have any chance to get to the chickens, it’s a good idea to add a roof to the run. You can simply use some chicken wire and cover the entire run with it.

Have a Rooster for Warning Calls

Part of the rooster’s job is to keep the entire flock safe from danger. This means the owls as well.

By having a rooster part of the flock, they will sound warning calls if they detect an owl is close by.

In areas like the city where roosters are not allowed, you can place a no-crow collar around them. The rooster won’t be able to make any loud sound, but it’s enough for the hens to run for cover.

Motion Activated Lights

To help keep owls away from the chickens, you can install motion-activated lighting. Place the lights around the entire coop with the light pointing into the sky.

As an owl comes within range, the lights will be activated. This will shoot beams of bright lights into the air. The bright lights will blind the owls and make them retreat.

What Other Predators Eat Chickens?


Foxes are found across the United States. These animals love chickens and will kill them when given a chance. Foxes are known to hide for hours waiting for the right opportunity to grab the chickens.


This bird of prey is aggressive, strong, and quick. They will swoop down and take the whole chicken with them in seconds. They will hunt both day and night if the opportunity exists.


Raccoons are dangerous to chickens. These creatures are nocturnal and will come out at night to hunt. Raccoons usually hunt in groups, which makes them even more dangerous. They will usually come around the chicken coop to try to find a way into the coop. Once they are able to get in, they will kill as many chickens as they can.


Owls are dangerous to chickens and will eat them when there’s an opportunity. These birds are the chicken’s natural predators. Fortunately, there are several ways to help protect the chickens from being eaten by the owls. You can cover their run with a roof, have a rooster part of the flocks, or install motion-activated lighting.