Are Owls Smart? – Everything About Owl Intelligence

Owls are a unique bird species recognized for their extraordinary hearing and sight abilities. Apart from that, owls are the symbol of wisdom. 

It is likely that you have heard the expression ‘as smart as an Owl’.

It is true that owls are smart? How intelligent are owls?

Despite their reputation as intelligent animals, Owls aren’t intelligent birds. Actually, there are many birds that are smarter than owls.

 The reason that owls aren’t intelligent lies in their brain capacity. 

In other words, two-thirds of the owl’s brain is dedicated to the perception of vision and hearing which means that only one-third of its brain to be used for other cognitive tasks.

Are Owls Smart?

Bird intelligence is always an intriguing subject to study. Through a variety of experiments with various species of birds, scientists have discovered that many species of birds have smart behaviors that are not due to instinct.

But what is the point of owl intelligence?

Owls are prey birds who specialize in hunting down and killing small animals. They have the ability to spot their prey from a distance and can hear the smallest movements within their environment.

But the two senses mentioned are the primary reason why Owls aren’t very smart. 75 percent of an owl’s brain’s power is used to perform the two primary tasks. This leaves just 25% of the brain’s processing capacity for the other tasks.

In a new investigation conducted, a group of owls was tested through a straightforward string bait test. Also, the owl’s job was to catch the baited remote attached to strings.

This kind of test does not require prior experience Many birds have accomplished the task quickly. But not owls.

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Six out of twelve Owls were able to complete this simple string-pulling challenge. Based on this result they performed much less than the other birds that were tested.

Does this mean that owls can be considered dumb birds? 

Absolutely no! 

Owls have demonstrated an innovative method of hunting, engaging their prey in a captivating manner. We will be back in a few minutes.

Let’s see first how intelligent are owls in comparison to other birds.

Are Owls Smarter than Ravens or Crows?

Owls aren’t smarter than ravens or crows. Crows and ravens are thought to be among the smartest animals on earth. 

Certain researchers go further, claiming that birds of that part of the Corvidae family are more intelligent than apes.

These two species of birds can make use of tools, solve difficult problems, exchange knowledge as well as mourn the deceased. The only owl on earth is capable of completing either of these jobs.

Are Owls Smarter than Eagles?

Owls and eagles have many things they share. Both are prey-selecting birds that have exceptional sight and hunting skills. What about intelligence?

Owls aren’t as smart as Eagles. In fact, the eagle is believed to be among the most intelligent prey species, even, in fact, they are among the most intelligent while owls rank to the bottom of the list.

Which Owl is the smartest?

Burrowing Owls are a masterful example of using a ‘bait and wait for strategy to catch prey. In this case, they were collecting the dung they used to lure beetles into the burrows.

Therefore, the ability of the owls to be clever enough to use bait to lure their prey puts burrowing owls in the class as one of the most intelligent species of owls.

Owl Intelligence

Tests of owls’ problem-solving abilities reveal that they aren’t proficient at certain tasks that require brains. In one study, six of 12 owls pulled the strings.

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These are tasks that are inherent to nature and don’t require any prior experience for animals. Birds can also do these tasks with ease. 

In the previous experiment, the owls were able to tug strings in bizarre ways. There is no evidence to suggest that this behavior may be due to insufficient knowledge of the fundamental physics of the objects found in owls.

Fun fact: did you have any idea that a pair consisting of owls is known as a Parliament?

However, owls aren’t so dumb when they’re viewed. The study also sought to discover the value of tools in the field of wildlife. 

Dung beetles are a favorite prey of Owls. It was found in the study that owls carried dung near their nests to draw beetles, maggots, and other insects and were able to feed on them.

The use of bait to lure prey typical in many animals, but this is different. Owls differ from other species of birds because they are nocturnal and depend upon their senses. How they find their prey before killing them is interesting for scientists.

In the Journal of Experimental Biology, Terry T. Takahashi explains the way owls use the technique of sound localization in order to identify their prey with precision. 

When night falls and the vision is not always perfect using sounds to catch prey shows how smart owls can be.

Why Owls Are Considered Wise?

The notion”owls have wisdom” goes as far back as early times. Many cultures believe that owls are symbols of wisdom due to their distinctive appearance and their mystical nighttime life.

However, not all cultures view the owl as wise animals. Let’s take a look at what owls have been portrayed in various parts of the globe.

Ancient Greece

The owl is a symbol of Greek mythology, the Owl represents Athena goddess of wisdom and wisdom.

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In many paintings of the period The goddess, Athena was depicted as a pair to an owl.

The connection between owls as well as wisdom is not known. It has been believed the significance has related to the ability of the owl to see through the darkness.

Native American Culture

In contrast to the wisdom prevalent in Greece In Native America, owls were often linked to death.

Aztecs as well as the Maya believed that owls were to be symbols of destruction and death.

Ojibwe tribes considered the Owl as a symbol of the death of evil.

The Pawnee is a symbol of protection for owls. symbols of protection.

Puebloan people believed in the owl as the god of death, and the spirit of fertility.


In Japan, It is completely the opposite. Owls are considered something positive and symbolize luck and wisdom.

In addition, an owl’s presence in Japan is believed to bring luckier and provide protection from the effects.

Roman Mythology

As Greeks, Roman people associated with owls Minerva who is the god of wisdom and prophecy.

The owls were also thought to be a source of wisdom. could foretell the future and, therefore, be able to warn people and provide wisdom.

However, it is believed that the demise of many famous people of the time, such as Julius Caesar, was predicted by an Owl.

Final Words

Owls are incredible creatures of their own however, they are far from being intelligent birds. Owls are as smart as their environment requires for them to become.

Their brains are small and are mostly used for sensory functions and have very limited room for the development of learning abilities or even intelligence as a whole.

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