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How Long Do Owls Live? An Overview of Wild Vs. Captivity 

Have you ever wondered how long do owls live? They are creatures of the night and one of the best adept hunters. 

The sharp talons and camouflaged feathers help them get along with nature and become professional hunters. There are 254 owl species as confirmed by the IOC (International Ornithological Committee). 

Each of the species varies significantly in behavior, and survival skills with a different period to live. 

To know more about how long do owls live, we have to start with, not just one but, the life span of different owl species. 

And our article is just set for today! By the end of this guide, you will learn about different species of owls, the oldest owl ever recorded to live, and threats that may jeopardize owls. 

Let’s get started, ay! 

How Long Do Owls Live

Do You Know? 

  • Owls have special feathers. It offers nearly silent flight so that they can hunt stealthily.
  • Barn owls are exceptionally good listeners. They have heart-shaped facial discs on their ears.
  • The Elf owl is the smallest of the owls and stands at just 5-6 inches tall, not less than 1.5 ounces.
  • Owls have flexible necks. It can rotate up to 270 degrees, thanks to extra vertebrae in their necks. 
  • The Burrowing owl lives in underground burrows. They are recyclers of the burrows that are often left out by prairie dogs and other animals. 
  • Owls throw up too! They regurgitate the bones and fur, in the form of pellets and spit out. 
  • In some cultures, owls are considered a symbol of wisdom. While others may see them as omens of death or bad luck. 

How Long Do Owls Live? 

Owls live relatively longer than other birds. However, not to mention that, their lifespan can depend on different factors. The primary and most natural of them are 254 owl species.  

Climate, loss of habitat, wild vs. captivity, and food scarcity also cut their life short. Let’s start with the average life period of the owls. 

How Long Do Owls Live on Average? 

We will break down the details soon! It is important that you know the average life span of owls regardless of the species. 

On average, an owl can live 5 to 12 years in the wild. However, in captivity, they would live longer.

Remember that, it is illegal to keep owls as pets. If you want to keep an owl as a pet, you would need a special permit in most countries. 

So, we get different factors that may lead to the short life of owls. Our article will especially highlight two factors – Owl Species and Wild Vs. Captivity. 

Experts have observed a notable difference in the lifespan of owls living in the wild and the owls raised in captivity. 

Owl Species & How Long They Live

Owl Species & How Long They Live

We simply can’t mention 254 owls here. The list would keep going on and on. Here are some of the popular owls we see around and their life spans. 

Barn Owl (Sc. Name: Tyto alba): The first one surely starts with the barn owls. They have a relatively shorter lifespan than other owls. They would live 4 to 9 years in the wild. However, when raised in captivity, it prolongs to 15 years. 

Great Horned Owls (Sc. Name: Bubo virginianus): They are one of the largest owl species. They can live up to 10 to 15 years. You can learn more about the majestic creatures here

Snowy Owls (Sc. Name: Bubo scandiacus): Beautiful as they are for their magnificent white plumage. They have a peculiar habitat selection, which you can learn here. Snowy owls can live up to 7 to 10 years in the wild and over 30 years when raised in confinement. 

Barred Owls (Sc. Name: Strix varia): They are often found in North America. They have a comparatively shorter lifespan but not less than Barn Owls. They can live up to 8 to 10 years in the wild. 

Screech Owl (Sc. Name: Megascops asio): Do you know Screech Owls were used in Harry Potter? They are small owls and native to Eastern North America, from Mexico to Canada. They can live up to 2 to 8 years in the wild. But in captivity, it is 15 to 20 years. 

Great Gray Owl (Sc. Name: Strix nebulosa): The tall owls are cousins of the barred owls and spotted owls. They are mostly popular for their large yellow eyes. They can live up to 7 to 12 years in the wild. 

Burrowing Owl (Sc. Name: Athene cunicularia): We all are familiar with the term Athena, right? It refers to the Greek Goddess of Wisdom. Cunicularia is also a Latin word, which means burrower or miner. The naming is indeed funny! 

Burrowing owls live up to 3 to 6 years in the wild. 

Tawny Owl (Sc. Name: Strix aluco): They are famous woodland hunters with silent wings. Perhaps, they are the most skilled silent hunters who can dive from a lofty perch to the surface without a single noise.

They can live up to 3 to 7 seven years in the wild and more than 15 years in captivity. 

Which Owl Species Live the Longest? The Longest Living Owl

The longest-living owl in history had the name “King Richard.” It was a great horned owl and was raised in captivity in the San Francisco Zoo. 

King Richard lived for 50 years, hatched in 1962, and officially donated to the zoo authority in 1975. It turned 50 years old in 2012. 

You can clearly notice the difference between the life span of wild vs captivity. In the wild, great horned owls don’t live more than 10 to 15 years. But what years of proper care and administration can do to the birds, it’s just before you. 

How Long Do Owls Live: Wild Vs. Captivity

How Long Do Owls Live

Specie is an important factor, and sometimes size too. But when it comes to how they are raised, the years vary significantly.

You see owls, including other birds have to go through a high level of threats and survival hacks in order to live. It is important to mark the factor whether they live in the wild or captivity. 

Those who live in captivity don’t have to struggle and other challenges. One big benefit is that they don’t have to face other predators or fight for their territory. 

Owls raised in captivity have everything provided, such as, food is available. When they get sick, they receive proper medical care. That is of course under serious administration. 

Birds in the wild don’t have such privilege. When they get sick or injured, they die. They don’t facilitate proper care or have an easy go on food or territory.

That’s why, birds who live in captivity gain an upper hand here, even though their freedom is compromised. 

Keep the Owls Healthy

We are almost at the end of our article. Let’s summarize a bit.

Owls are exotic creatures. It is not easy to raise owls in captivity too. Sometimes, the locked walls can get them! 

You need to make sure that they have everything they need to ensure a healthy living owl. From food, toys, and of course company! Don’t leave them alone in the walls as it will dramatically affect their mental health. 

As for the owls who live in the owl, we can contribute to their well-being by taking care of Mother Nature. Deforestation and pollution are deadly terms for any living creature in the wild. 

We should take care of the forest to take of them.  Do you like our article? Leave us a comment and let us know. Also, you can share our article with others, it will help us grow too! We will come back soon! 

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