Owls do have some enemies, but they are very smart! They play games to escape danger. Some can disappear by blending into the background. We call this, "camouflage." The owl presses itself close to a tree trunk that matches its feathery "mustache" forward to hide its beak. It closes its eyes sometimes, too.
Owls can make themselves look bigger and tougher than they really are. This trick comes in handy when other animals threaten their nests. They fluff out their feathers, spreading their large wings to make themselves bigger. Then what they do is clack their beaks and hiss to look tough. Sometimes they sway from side to side.
Some owls, such as the snowy and barn owl, play dead. When they play dead, their enemies usually leave them alone. Some owls like the short-eared owls, pretend to be injured. This keeps people away from their owlets. When the enemy is far enough from the nest he flies to safety.
Burrowing owls make a sound like a rattlesnake shaking its tail. This scares skunks and coyotes, which are animals that eat owls. It also scares ground squirrels that might try to move into the same tunnels.
When scientists played a tape recording of real rattlesnakes and burrowing owls in a tunnel, the owl sounds scared a ground squirrel as much as the rattlesnake sounds. Its hair stood on end, and its teeth chattered. Then it simply ran away.
Man is an enemy of any owl. About
96% of all owls are killed by humans. Most were shot or trapped.
The great horned owl is the major predator for owlets. Ravens, goshawks, coopers hawks, and red tailed hawks have been known to kill and eat young owls. Very few animals however will prey on an adult spotted owl.
Other enemies of owls are foxes, weasels, flocks of crows, and wolves.