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Baby Owl: What Do You Call Them & What Do They Look Like?

Baby owls are called owlets. They’re small, only weighing a couple of ounces, and are born only with natal feathers. Born blind, they rely on care from their parents to survive.

Owls are remarkable. They have the best night vision in the world, are great hunters, and are silent killers. But are they good parents?

In this article, we’ll discuss baby owls. More specifically what they’re called, what they look like, and how they’re taken care of.

Read on to learn all about the baby owl.

What Is a Baby Owl Called?

A baby owl is called an owlet. Owlets are baby animals that belong to the genus of birds known as owls.

Owlets are the offspring of adult owls. They’re small, without feathers, and can’t do much themselves. 

While an owl can live in a variety of environments such as rainforests, deserts and, mountains, baby owls don’t venture out of their nests that are made out of various materials, including sticks and leaves.

baby Tawny owl

​​What Does a Baby Owl Look Like?

Generally, baby owls weigh about 1.5-2 ounces, are only a couple of inches tall, and are born with pink skin. Owlets usually have white down feathers that help them stay warm.

As with most baby animals, owlets are incapable of taking care of themselves.

These baby birds tend to spend their first few weeks of life in their nests. During the first 10-12 days after hatching they can’t see, whereafter their eyes will open.

Baby Owls Size

When baby owls are born, they are small. A baby owl weighs approximately 1.5-2 ounces (40-60 grams) and is between 1.5-2 inches tall.

They grow quickly. After the initial week, they start developing down feathers and reach their adult size within 8-9 weeks after hatching.

Snow owl

Baby Owls Have Natal & Down Feathers

When baby owls hatch they’re born with natal feathers which is a type of down. They quickly grow additional down feathers. These baby owl feathers are extremely soft and fluffy for one reason: to keep them warm.[2]

Down feather shafts lack a rigid central quill, like adult owl feathers, which makes baby owls unable to fly. However, baby owls are still able to stand on their two feet and crawl.

Baby Owls Are Born Blind

Much like baby humans, baby owls are helpless when they are born. The baby owl cannot see and is dependent on its parents for survival. They open their eyes after 10-12 days.

As owlets are born with their eyes closed, they have to rely on their sense of touch until they are strong enough to open their eyes.

Baby Owl Legs & Pink Skin

When baby owls are first born, their legs and skin are pink. The baby owl’s legs and skin turn white or brown as they develop feathers. 

It’s not only baby owls that are born with pink legs and skin, baby birds of nearly all species have this trait as well.

baby Barn Owl

Here’s why their skin is pink, and how it develops:

  • The development from a baby owl with pink legs and skin to an older owl with white legs and skin can be attributed to a process called erythrism, which is the opposite of albinism. 
  • Erythrocytes, more commonly known as red blood cells, have hemoglobin inside them which is what carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.
  • In baby owls and baby birds, the erythrocytes have a high concentration of iron. The baby bird or baby owl can control how much iron is in their blood by removing excess iron and storing it in their liver.

Baby Owl Species

Different species of owls have certain traits. This is not only true for adults, but for owlets as well.

These baby owls have a unique set of needs that they have to meet in order to survive. Let’s take a look at a couple of baby owl species to learn more about them.

Owl Species Habitat
Baby barn owl Holes of trees, cliff ledges, crevices.
Baby screech owl Near tree cavities, animal burrows, or rock crevices
Baby Snowy owl Northern hemisphere

Baby Barn Owl

The baby barn owl is a baby bird belonging to the barn owl species. These owlets have dark eyes and eyelids and are completely white in color.

These owlets stay in the nest for 9 weeks, until they’re ready to fly. If you find a baby barn owl, it’s important to place them back in their nest.

People often mistake baby barn owls for baby tawny owls, and it can be hard to tell them apart at first glance.

cute baby Barn Owl

Baby Screech Owl

This species of baby owl is found around the world, except for Australia and Antarctica. They eat anything that’s made out of meat, including worms, insects, fish, and other animals.

Screech owls typically lay 3-4 eggs. They do so asynchronously, meaning the eggs hatch at different times. The incubation period is about 26 days.

When they hatch, they’re typically white but develop gray down feathers soon after.

Baby Screech Owl

Baby Snowy Owl

Snowy Owls belong to the Strigidae family of birds. Their offspring, baby snowy owls, are brown, in contrast to their white parents.

Being one of the largest bird species in the artic, snowy owlets are also bigger than the average baby owl, but not by much. They also grow fast, reaching their adult weight (4-5 pounds) within a couple of months.

Baby Snowy Owl

What Do Baby Owls Eat?

Baby owls eat a variety of animals, but they generally eat whatever their parents feed them. They don’t chew their food, so baby owls swallow their prey whole. 

After baby owls hatch, their parents hunt small prey like baby rats or mice and bring them back to the hungry chicks.[3]

In the beginning, as the owlets are very small, their parents regurgitate the food and feed it to the younglings. As they get older, the parents throw small pieces of meat into the nest. As they get older, they can eventually swallow small prey whole.

Owlets cannot taste what they eat until after they digest the meal, which takes about three days for baby owls.

The baby owl’s digestive fluids are strong enough to dissolve the bones, fur, and feathers of its prey. 

Related: What do owls eat?

baby owl eating small prey

When Do Baby Owls Leave the Nest?

Baby owls leave the nest when they’re about 6-8 weeks old. At this time, they will have developed flight feathers, and have done some practicing in the nest.

Once baby owls learn how to fly, their parents will push them out of the nest[4].

After the baby owls’ 6-week period of time on the ground, they will take to the sky. They learn how to hunt and eat without their parents.

What Do You Do if You Find a Baby Owl on the Ground?

Baby owls are defenseless. They can’t do much themselves. Hence, if you find a baby owl on the ground, place it back into the nest.

If you ever find a baby owl on the ground, here are a few things that you need to do.

  1. If you discover a baby owl on the ground, the first thing to do is determine whether you should pick it up or leave it as is. Most of the time, you should help it.
  2. If you decide to pick up a baby owl, remember baby owls can be very fragile.
  3. If you don’t know what to do, it’s best to call a local wildlife rehabilitation center. Baby owls can be rehabilitated so they can be released back into the wild.[5]

FAQs

Do Baby Owls Have Legs?

Yes, baby owls have legs. While their legs appear to be small, they’re surprisingly long and strong. When owls are first born, their legs are skinny and pink.

Do Baby Owls Lay Eggs?

No, baby owls don’t lay eggs, only adults owls do. Female owls can lay eggs once they reach maturity (a few months). When they do lay eggs, they typically lay 4-6 in a batch.

Are Baby Owls Blind?

Yes, baby owls are blind, until they reach the age of 10-12 days. They are born with their eyes closed, and they can’t open them for the initial week or two.

About Kaitlin Mullins

Birds are plenty, and they can be hard to keep track of. Thankfully, Katilin Mullins has taken charge of these. With plenty of free time spent bird watching, she’s a true expert on these intriguing animals.