Are There Any Diurnal Owls? Explained In Detail

Diurnal Owls

Everyone frequently makes the error of classifying all owls as nocturnal. The northern hawk owl, northern pygmy owl, and snow owl are examples of diurnal species that hunt throughout the day. 

The owl is a very intelligent bird. They are aware that if they hunt during the day, their prey will be able to see them readily. 

As a result, they conceal themselves behind grassy knolls, shrubs, and tree barks and wait patiently for their prey. 

They can also detect their prey with ease because they have the gift of farsightedness.

They can’t see things closer to their eyes and sometimes can be prey to big eagles and hawks. 

This article will focus on the diurnal owls, their characteristics, types, habitat, and why they hunt during the daytime. 

So without further ado, let’s get into it

Can owls be diurnal?

People that stay up late are referred to as “night owls” since owls are known for their nighttime antics. 

However, there are animals that are both diurnal and nocturnal, thus this hypothesis is completely false. 

The daytime animals search for food and go about their daily chores while the nocturnal animal’s slumber. 

The habitats of snowy owls and burrowing owls, as well as the availability of food, make them both common during the day. 

The availability of food according to their geographical location is the main cause of the different habits among the owl species.

Diurnal Owls In Detail: 

Here we are going to explain broadly two diurnal owl species: 

Northern Hawk Owl

Scientific name: Surnia ulula

Size of an adult: 35-45cm in length

Weight of an adult: 250-450gm 

Wingspan: 70cm 

Appearance: Medium-sized, oval-shaped body with a long pointed tail. The face is covered with white and brown feathers. The body is covered with brown feathers and white spots. 

Habitat: Resides in open areas or marshlands on coniferous and other large trees with big perches. 

Food: Feed on small mammals, mainly voles in the summertime, and other songbirds. 

Nesting period: Tend to choose the nesting place near water, and accumulate the nesting materials in the holes made by woodpeckers. It lays about 3-13eggs, and after about a month the babies are born. 

Hunting: Hunt primarily in the daytime but can also hunt at night if they can hear prey nearby. 

How do they hunt during daytime: They primarily detect their prey with eyesight as their hearing ability is quite poor. 

Why do they hunt during daytime: As they mainly use their eyesight, their symmetrical ear openings are evidence of daytime hunting. 

This type of ear apparently has less hearing ability than the asymmetrical ones present in the nocturnal owls. 

Northern Pygmy Owl

Scientific name: Glaucidium californicum

Size of an adult: 7 inches in length

Weight of an adult: 2 ounces

Wingspan: 14.5-16 inch

Appearance: Small-sized with a circular head without ear tufts. Brown-colored feather with white spots and speckles overall, and yellow eyes. 

Habitat: Live in deciduous woods and spruce forests on large strong trees. 

Food: Feed mostly on small birds like hummingbirds, and sparrows and on small mammals like chipmunks, and moles. 

Nesting period: Find a hole on trees made by woodpeckers but lay debris at the bottom of the cavity for laying eggs. They lay about 2-7 eggs and the babies are born after about 25 days. 

Hunting: They hunt during the day. 

How do they hunt during daytime: They sit quietly on the branches of trees and surprise attack the prey. 

Why do they hunt during daytime: The nocturnal birds need to have a good hearing ability to hunt but the pygmy owls don’t have the hearing ability. They solely hunt on the basis of their vision during the daytime. 

What owl is awake during the day (Diurnal and crepuscular)?

The diurnal animals are awake during the day because they can hunt more effectively with improved vision. 

To keep healthy, they must hunt and eat during the hours of full sunlight. Additionally, at this time, they must safeguard themselves and avoid competition at all costs. 

Due to their weak hearing, which is necessary at night or during periods of low light, they have adapted to this habitat.

Specifically, around dusk and dawn, the crepuscular ones are more active throughout the twilight period. 

With their keen eyesight and hearing, these periods are excellent for hunting birds. They typically stay inside during the day, although they may venture outside more at night to hunt. These species are more closely related to the nocturnal ones. 

Why would owls be out during the day?

The diurnal ones are seen throughout the daytime while they hunt and perform their other daily activities. 

They watch the broad spaces from the lofty vantage points of the trees as they hunt for prey. 

These species just use their eyes to hunt and go about their daily lives. Additionally, a nocturnal or crepuscular owl will become awake right away and fly away to a far safer location if any kind of predator comes close to it as it is resting.

What happens if you see an owl during the day?

They are the diurnal species, which is typical and prevalent throughout the day. People also have the superstitious idea that if they hear or see an owl during the day, they are in luck and that something positive will happen to change their lives. They also believe that owls are symbols of knowledge, wisdom, and mental evolution.


So, it can be concluded that owls are not always nocturnal but some subspecies of the owl can be diurnal. 

However, during the daytime, they hunt using their vision and need to have prey nearby to pursue. 

They are excellent at killing mice and other small mammals from trees and perches. Some of the nocturnal species are also sleeping during the day while they go on prowling and hunting but some of them can hunt at night. The diurnal owls are primarily found in North America and Eurasia.

I hope this article was informative and helpful.

Thanks for reading! 

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