Owls Vs Crows: Brilliant Birds Battle!

Written by Peralee Knight
Published: May 12, 2022
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Although owls are active at night and crows prefer the day, these birds still find a way to engage in battle!

Did you know that Owls and Crows have an ancient feud that spans generations? It is true! Owls Vs crows is a fight that seems impossible because these two animals are not even active at the same time. Owls are nocturnal, while crows are diurnal and awake during the day. However, these two birds have a feud that seems built into their very DNA. Why do crows and owls attack each other, and who usually wins the fight? Time to do some digging and find the underlying cause of this “brilliant bird battle!”

Owls VS Crows: Why Do They Hate Each Other?

Before we can figure out which one of these birds tends to win the fight, we must get into why the fight happens. What makes owls and crows hate each other so much that they fight when they should not even run into each other? Owls sleep during the day, and crows are not active at night.

What makes these two birds go after each other, even when they would rarely come into contact?

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Why Owls Attack Crows

why do owls hoot at night

The Great Horned Owl is one of the larger species that prey on Crow hatchlings. One of the deadliest owls out there, they are highly efficient nighttime hunters and a more than worthy opponent.

©Imran Ashraf/Shutterstock.com

Owls prey on the nests of crows in search of an easy meal, but most owls do not seek out hatchlings to prey upon. The horned Owl, barred owl, and other larger owl species are most likely to attack crows nests. Owls are solitary except for their mates, and during mating season they are very territorial. Not every owl species will mate for life but are monogamous throughout mating season.

Why Crows Attack Owls

crow perched on wooden deck

A murder of crows will attack an owl on sight, even if they have never encountered one before!

©iStock.com/PaulReevesPhotography

Though seeing a crow on its own is fairly common, with one call a single crow can summon the entirety of its flock. Crows are also highly intelligent, and each generation passes on knowledge. Crows have a long memory, and their high intelligence and ability to communicate with each other give them long memories. A crow can retain information and understands cause and effect. Crows live and travel in large groups, and each crow carries information from generation to generation. Even without ever seeing an owl, a murderer of crows knows instantly that owls are serious enemies! Crows attack owls on sight, knowing them as a serious threat that needs to be eliminated!

Owls VS Crows: Battle Styles For Each Bird

Okay, now that we know why owls and crows have this ancient feud, let us get into the physical and behavioral characteristics each uses to defend or attack. Since owls and crows are so different, both in appearance and behavior, those differences are key when trying to decide which is more likely to win the fight!

Owls Are Solitary, Silent Predators

Beautiful closeup of an Ural Owl.

Owls are the perfect nocturnal predator and only hunt at night. Everything from their superior eyesight to their sharp talons and silent flight makes them a dangerous aerial predator!

©Angyalosi Beata/Shutterstock.com

Owls are the most well-known example of a nocturnal animal and only hunt at night. As such, they are highly efficient predators. They have multiple physical attributes that make them highly adept nighttime predators. Owls have highly acute senses of sight and sound, with front-facing eyes and asymmetric hearing. Due to their unique plumage and straight flight path, they are completely silent when flying. Their sharp talons with two rotating claws allow them to snatch and hold larger prey, and they can rotate their head up to 270 degrees. And these are only a few of the many ways owls have evolved to hunt!

Owls hunt by ambush, snatching prey off the ground at up to forty miles an hour. They consume prey whole, digesting the bones and hair into a pellet as waste. At night, owls are a formidable predator for several smaller animals. Owls also compete with crows for food sources, which is one of the main reasons for fighting them.

There’s A Reason It is A Murder Of Crows!

What do crows eat - two crows

A murder of crows attacks as a group, mobbing predators like owls. As omnivores, crows have occasionally been seen to raid other bird’s nests and steal hatchlings too.

©Vladimir Turkenich/Shutterstock.com

Crows are highly intelligent and social birds that travel and live in flocks observed to have as many as a hundred thousand members. An average murder of crows has around ten members, and they communicate constantly to find food or places to roost. Crows are omnivores and this community within the flock aids them in finding food and shelter. They rarely attack solo, instead attacking as a group to repel or even kill larger predators with sheer numbers alone!

In addition to their astounding teamwork, crows are also quite smart and are one of the few animals that have mastered cause and effect. In fact, recent studies show that crows can use tools! Crows pass information from generation to generation and have long memories. A crow can remember specific animals and people they encountered up to five years prior as a threat.

This generational memory and understanding of cause-and-effect cause crow to attack owls during the day. Owls are vulnerable in daylight, and a murder of crows will mob an owl to prevent them from sleeping. Experts believe that this is an attempt to chase the larger predator out of the habitat to protect hatchlings. One crow will see an owl and call out to others to come to deal with the threat. There has also been some speculation that crows also prey on owl hatchlings, but this has not been proven as fact.

Owls Or Crows: Who Has The Upper Hand?

Most Dangerous Birds

In a one-on-one confrontation, owls are built to win the fight. However, with their high intelligence, advanced communication, long memories, and group attack strategy, it’s crows that often win the war and chase owls out of their shared territory!

©Jim Cumming/Shutterstock.com

Knowing everything we know now, which wins in a fight, owls, or crows? The answer is surprisingly simple. These two have engaged in this generational war for so long because they are evenly matched! Owls are physically more powerful and motivated by hunger. One on one, the average owl easily wins the fight and extra helpings of dinner or territory. But in nature, crows rarely travel or hunt alone.

A murder of crows is more than a match for one solitary owl. The crow’s long memory, high intelligence, and mob mentality make crows the clear winner in a fight that has continued for countless generations. An owl may win a battle, but crows often win the war by chasing off the larger bird. However, no one is quite sure why this feud is still going on, and it has no signs of stopping!

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Wang LiQiang/Shutterstock.com


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