How Long Do Owls Live on Average? (Including 15 Breeds)

How Long Do Owls Live on Average

Owls are one of nature’s most illustrious and mysterious birds that continue to blow our minds with their stealth, stature, and intellectual abilities; but how long does this last for?

On average, owls live 15 years. On the lower end, some owls will only live between 4 and 8 years old, while other owls can live between 20 and 25 years!

Their life expectancy depends on the species of owl, so let us delve deeper and learn more about the life expectancy of owls.

1) Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl

Snowy owls are one of the most majestic and alluring owls that the Earth has to offer; and it’s also the longest living owl known to date!

Sure, while in nature, snowy owls live closer to the lifespan of 8 to 10 years, however, while living with an owner or caregiver, captivity allows these large and sturdy owls to live up to 28 years!

Because of their strong bodies and smart defense tactics, snowy owls are said to be the longest living owl in North America!

2) Whiskered Screech Owl

Whiskered Screech Owl

Unfortunately, the Central and South American species of the Whiskered Screech Owl is slowly dwindling due to deforestation and degradation, but luckily they still live strong and long.

For the screech owl, it can expect to live a decent life of 14 years both in the wild and in captivity.

With an owner, it could reach 16 years, but due to their biological nature and predators, they are capable of living their average lifespan of 14 years with the small chance of surpassing it.

3) Spotted Owl

It is native to the western region of North America and the northern tips of Central America. They are medium sized birds that are known for perching in trees to camouflage with their surroundings.

Because of this special feature Spotted Owls live up to 10 years in nature. Now, with proper care in captivity from an owner and little to no predators, their life can double which increases their life expectancy to between 15 and 20 years!

4) Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl

Short-Eared Owls can be found in the open areas of marshes, fields, and grasslands, and are also one of the more popular species of owls because it is the most widely distributed.

However, like their ears, their lifespan is short compared to other owls that exist; it’s an average of 4 ½ years long. The reason for their early mortality is typically due to threats such as them being trapped or shot by hunters, or hit by a car or airplane while flying.

5) Pygmy Owl

Pygmy Owl

There’s a reason as to why the Pygmy owl has its name: it’s super small!

The Northern Pygmy owl resides in the western forests and has a steady population growth because of the lack of predators and the fact that they enjoy perching at high altitudes.

So because of their stable living environments, passive defense mechanism, in addition to their small size – which makes them more susceptible to diseases – Pygmy owls live fairly peacefully for 5 years on average.

6) Saw-Whet Owl

Saw-Whet Owl

The Saw-Whet owl has an increasing population throughout the United States and Canada and received it’s cool name from the fact that they sound like a saw being sharpened!

Another cool feature about this small bird is that they have an average lifespan of 10 years in nature, while being able to live into their late teens if they are being taken care of by an owner.

Oddly, the major predator that shortens the Saw-Whet owl’s lifespan are larger owls like the long-eared owl and the great horned owl!

7) Long-eared Owl

Long-eared Owl

With their large size, nocturnal living standards, and super acute hearing, the American Long-eared owl has the capacity to live for at least 10 years.

Additionally, they can live on average for 15 years, up to almost 20 years, because they don’t have many predators to attack them, and they are aware of their surroundings because of their super senses that keep them aware.

Fun fact: the longest living owl that lived in nature lived to be 27 years old!

8) Northern Hawk Owl

Northern Hawk Owl

The Northern Hawk owl has been depicted in many movies because of it’s high popularity status. They have an intriguing look that includes being around a few feet tall and also fairly heavy weighing several tens of pounds.

Located within the boreal forest of the United States and Canada, the Northern Hawk owl can live for about 10 years on average in nature and up to their mid-teens while in captivity with their caretakers.

They also have very little predators to take advantage of them, which helps them to keep living for more years to come.

9) Great-horned Owl

Great-horned Owl

One of my favorite owls is the Great-horned owl and is one of the top 3 most popular owls to be recognized by most people.

Although their species is declining due to deforestation, chemical trails in the air, and the occasional illegal hunting of them, they still live millions strong in the forests and fields.

In spite of human error, Great-horned owls can live for 20 years to their late 20s while residing in nature, and into their mid-thirties while with caregivers.

Fun Fact: the longest living Great-horned owl was 50 years old!

10) Flammulated Owl

Flammulated owls are notorious for migration. They reside in the forests of North America and fly down to the warmth of Central America for the winters.

They are known for eating mostly insects, with a taste for small rodents here and there. When it comes to this bird’s life capacity, they live for approximately 3 to 4 years.

What makes their life only a few years long is their size considering they are smaller than the average owl. In addition, their size makes them a perfect snack for larger owls or other predators.

11)  Great Gray Owl

Great Gray Owl

The Great Gray owl is depicted with a flat gray face with bands and stripes going across it and their body. They are long-lived owls that live for around 13 years of age at the least and around 20 to 22 years in the wild, and up to the 30 years in captivity!

The Great Gray Owl is one of North America’s largest owls, with a height of a little more than 2 feet and their wingspan reaching up to 5 feet across!

12) Elf Owl

Can you guess why this creature is called the Elf owl? Because it’s one of America’s smallest owls!

They only weigh up to 45 grams and their small bodies allow them to move about the desert scrubs quickly to evade other animals and capture their prey.

While in nature, elf owls tend to live between 3 to 6 years depending on their environment and how many predators are lurking; however in captivity, their lives nearly double, stretching up to 6 to 10 years old.

13) Eastern Screech Owl

Eastern Screech Owl

Eastern Screech Owls are a vibrant medium sized bird that resides in the hollows of trees located throughout the eastern coast of both the United States and Canada.

Interestingly enough, they are monogamous birds that mate with one partner for their entire life, which is decently long.

Eastern Screech Owls live for 8 to 10 year in nature. While in captivity, they can live to their mid-to-late teens due to having their food and comfort at their leisure.

14) Burrowing Owl

Burrowing Owl

What’s cool about the Burrowing Owl is that after 40 days of hatching they are ready to leave the nest and start their own life. They are small birds that live under the ground by “burrowing” a hole about 4 to 6 feet deep.

To keep predators away, they are known to hiss like a snake, which creates a scare for any animal that comes their way. This allows them to live their best life, which typically last between 4 and 6 years long; 8 years while in captivity.

15) Barn Owl

Barn Owl

Grasslands, fields, and deserts are the home to the infamous Barn Owl. They are small-to-medium sized birds that are known to be used by farmers to scare and capture pesky rodents like mice and racoons.

Barn owls have excellent and even more impressive hearing which makes them pretty stealth at avoiding problem animals and humans.

Even more interesting is the difference in their lifespan: in nature, they only live for 2 years on average, but when cared by an owner, it increases exponentially to 16 to 18 years!

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