Sunday, July 20, 2008

Hawks and Owls Eat Dogs and Cats

From Birder's World Magazine's Website

Large hawks prey on small mammals. The Red-tailed Hawk feeds on rodents and rabbits but also catches larger animals, including pheasants, hares, and jackrabbits. Likewise, Ferruginous and Harris's Hawks chase rabbits, rodents, and ground squirrels. Swainson's Hawks eat mice and large insects.

Of the prey items I've mentioned, jackrabbits are the heaviest. They weigh no more than 10 pounds, less than your pet. Since a small dog could look about the same size as a hawk's usual prey, however, it's possible that a hungry raptor might at least attempt to capture the dog, injuring it in the process.

Be more cautious, though, about leaving your dog outdoors at night. Great Horned Owls are powerful hunters that eat a wide variety of prey, including raccoons, porcupines, and house cats - all of which can weigh as much as your pet.

Recently in Great Britain, a Eurasian Eagle-Owl made headlines when it repeatedly attacked at least five dogs. The owner of one of the dogs, a miniature wire-haired dachshund, said, "It is very frightening for Heidi to have this giant bird trying to eat her all the time. I have no doubt that it wants to make her into its next meal. I guess Heidi looks like a rabbit or a tasty snack." A falconer captured the bird, which was believed to have escaped from an aviary.

Editor's Note:
Please read comments below since I have added a lot more info on this problem with links to even more information. Protect your pet with knowledge to keep it alive.

27 comments:

  1. Cats eat birds..birds eat cats, seems fair to me...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. anonymousJuly 31, 2012

      dumb

      Delete
    2. No dumber than that reply

      Delete
    3. It is pleasing to discover that certain birds attack and kill cats .More power to these birds for ridding the world of feline parasites.

      Delete
    4. IT is quit amazing how some people think it is ok for cats to eat birds but when the boot is on the other foot they get most upset

      Delete
  2. I didnt see that my questions posted so i will repost. i would really like to know how far an owl will travel to ear its prey. there are no tall trees in the area just brush and bushes as we live in the desert and away from the cite. the house are a bit apart and there is a small alley in between the houses. my dog is 5lbs and about 11 to 13 inches in length. where would the owl go to eat her if he took her? please respond! thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yes it can, it can kill somr thing that is 3 times its own weight, and they mostly be out at night, there wings are silent unlike other bireds, they are not shy birds, and its likely that a great horned owl will take and eat it and might just take it in top of roofs of people houses

      Delete
  3. You didn't see your post because I have to approve them before they go up. It avoids "nasty" stuff being posted that I don't want this family-friendly site to hold.

    Great Horned Owls hunt by perching or gliding slowly high above the ground. When they spot prey, they dive down to the ground with wings folded. The prey is usually killed instantly when grasped by the owl's large, curved talons. They're mainly nocturnal hunters, but they also hunt during the day in the wintertime.

    Our hawks catch prey and sometimes eat it on the ground if there is nothing threatening to bother them. I imagine an owl might do the same.

    I simply posted the info from a Q&A segment on the Birder's World website. You can click on the link below the above post and submit your own question.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I own a medium sized Chihuahua/Jack Russell Terrier mix. 'Peanut' is a little more than a year old & weighs roughly around 6-8 pounds (at most). My husband & I noticed this HUGE owl lurking about our property about a week or so ago, but didn't think much of it, as it was simply flying by. I must say that I tried to find which kind of owl this was &, even though I know it is not common to South Carolina, the closest match I could find to what it looked like was a photo of a Great Grey Owl (except the owl in my yard is more of a chestnut brown in color)... Other than the color difference, there is no doubt that size, wingspan, etc. match the description of the Great Grey Owl. Anyway, just 3 days ago (at dusk.. it was not completely dark out yet) I was in the back yard with 'Peanut' &, as usual, 'Peanut' was wandering a tad further away from me than I liked, so I called him back to me. As he was walking towards me, this same owl lunged out of a high tree &, if I didn't know better, appeared to be hunting 'Peanut'... Luckily my scream distracted him & he missed.. But he quickly perched himself up in a nearby tree & actually narrowed his eyes onto me with an eerie glare. Since then, this owl had been hanging around my property in the evening hours & doesn't seem to want to go away. Is it possible that this owl is determined to actually get my dog? Do they even think this way? &, if so, does this mean that my dog is doomed to eventually die at the talons of this creature? He does seem pretty determined & I take this as a very bad sign. Other than keeping 'Peanut' in at night or letting him out at night while on a leash only, do you have any suggestions?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I also live in the caroliners and a owl the same color you are describing tried to take my little dog I was so nervous I did the same thing I ran to the dog yelling and the last minute the owl turned and flew away but I still see him sometimes at night so I walk the dog on a leash but I also check outside first to try to see if I see the owl around

      Delete
    2. probally, i mean like hes been there for a long tim right?, your dog is probally diiner at night or some thing, just make sure that your dog is safe cause they birds can surprise attack your dog easy, and when i was 6 i saw a great horned owl attack a small rabbit and sadly the rabbit died and it looke like it wasnt even full grown, but it was dead

      Delete
    3. The owl was upset at you for spoiling it's kill and it's dinner now it finds you a threat so never turn your back on any animal even something as small as an owl ...
      And youe dog is in it's radar it may never leave till it get's it's meal they are very persistant and patient so be carefull ...
      josef from RHode Island ....

      Delete
  5. The only way I see to protect your precious dog is to not leave it out alone. Owls will continue to stalk a known food source. Usually it's Spring when they are most hungry, so if you are having problems in Fall, that's not a good sign.

    Great Horned Owls are most offensive to small pets. You mentioned a possible Great Gray Owl, but they do not seem to be resident in SC. Check range of the Great Gray Owl.

    There have been pets that are attacked and not killed but severely injured so I would definitely not leave my dog out alone undefended from a known killer in the yard. That may seem not convenient, but think of it as some "outdoor chill down time" when you take your pet outdoors. We all need to add to our outdoor time in this hectic world. It can be a mini-break for both of you.

    I might add a few words from one of the articles linked below as far as leash walking:
    They’ve been known to swoop down and grab a small, toy sized dog even if it’s attached to a leash. Unfortunately, a tug-of-war match between a strong owl and a dog owner will often be won by the owl.

    Here's information that says they attack up to 20 pounds:
    Large raptors will routinely attack animals that weigh up to 20 pounds as part of a hunt, and many birds of prey will attack even larger animals if the bird feels its nest or young is threatened.

    Here's a few articles on Great Horned Owls attacking small pets. It is a serious concern and as uncommon as is thought since many small pets just disappear without an owl attack being considered.

    Many pets that are reported missing may have been carried off by a bird of prey and just considered a lost wandering pet, so numbers on these incidents is hard to come up with.

    Several hawk species will also take pets.

    Here's a few links on more info:
    Great Horned Owls Pose a Threat to Small Animals

    Lost Pets: Beware Of The Great Horned Owl

    Protect Pets From Birds of Prey

    ReplyDelete
  6. My cat recently killed a young, but not baby horned owl and ate it. the bird was 7 to 8 inches long and missing it's talons, when he brought it home. I was wondering if the owl meant to eat the cat, when he became the prey. His legs and talons were missing when the cat brought him home, but the owl was otherwise intact when my cat first presented it to me. Later the cat ate the entire owl, except for the feathers. The bird had adult feathers and was definitely some kind of horned owl. I just read that the young horned owls look exactly like the adult horned owls except for being smaller. If it wasn't a horned owl, what else could it have been? It looked just like the pictures.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. it may be a young baby owl, but if it was a adult owl, it will never happen

      Delete
  7. Last Saturday morning at about 5:15 am CST, my chihuahua/daschund mix and I were outside. He went into the bush to do his business. Because it was still dark I could not see heim, but could hear him walking. Suddenly there was a "Yelp!" then nothing. I called and called, then went to get a flashlight. In the 20 minutes I kept calling after the yelp, I never heard wingbeats or footfalls or any sounds of struggle or ever found any blood or signs of a struggle. Could an owl be hunting that time of day? I hve not found a carcas or any clues as to what couldhave happened. I thought it may also have been a "bob cat". I live in NW Florida. Thanks for any insight.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's so tragic! Here's some info on a variety of owls and their hunting methods.

      Seems it would be the Great Horned Owl and they will hunt in the daytime if necessary, especially while breeding and raising young ones. Here's some info on Great Horned Owls.

      One thing to be comforted by is that you only heard one "yelp" which means he died quickly which is usually the case with hawks and owls, etc. because the raptors know exactly where to bite a fatal wound.

      Delete
    2. Thanks for the information. Have done some additional research and it does seem to confirm my suspicions that it was an owl. Also, thank you for the condolances. Have come to terms with the whole thing and you are right about dying quickly, that is how I hope it happened. This morning at about 6:30 am I spotted a red tail hawk or similar at about 200 ft from the murder scene. Could have been him! Thanks again. Very good website.

      Delete
  8. Thank YOU for the compliments on the website. It's so hard to lose our pets. They are like children in a way and even more heart-tugging since they show us so much unconditional love. A red-tailed hawk would be one that would attack a small dog. How very sad! I guess you could say his life provided life for the hawk and probably young. Certainly better than some disease that many pets get these days. Guess that's just a thought to try to balance out the understanding of it all. Hugs to you! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Rabish cat can defend theirselves. Owl and hawks don't attack cats. very vary hard to happen and cats has very powefull claws the chances are very slims for a cat to loose. i have seen cats attacks eagles and chaste them off

    ReplyDelete
  10. We do not see cat and dog bones in great-horned owl pellet analysis. It is impossible to find in the professional literature.

    Eurasian eagle owls are perhaps another story, as they are two to three times larger than a horned owl. Even still, instances of cat and dog attacks by Eurasians are likely the result of escaped imprint birds, not wild owls.

    The most likely culprit for a missing pet would be a coyote, fox, or in some areas a feral dog. A coyote can scale a 6ft fence and take a 10lb dog. The owner finds the pet missing, blames the local owl because he never saw the coyote.

    Raptors do not pose a significant threat to your pet unless it is less than 4-5 lbs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't know about your pellet analysis. But, I saw a hawk drop a kitten in my backyard. I have the now grown cat asleep in my lap. Once a lost lunch.

      Delete
  11. I love my domestic animals very much. I have cats, and a small dog, who we take out on a leash. my cats do wander and come back in. they weigh 10lbs or a little more. they stay in the woods, alot. my question is are these animals able to hunt in the woods, and get my cats?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We live on a wooded acre and see hawks all the time come in. We have 5 species of hawks that we've seen. I've seen them sit on the concrete border to our walkway to the front door waiting for birds to come to a nearby feeder. We have had red-shouldered hawks nesting in the back woods. I don't see the owls but woods is where they live.

      We do hear the calls of the barred owl and great horned owl at various times of the year - they too nest in the woods. Hawks by day and owls by night. Have also heard the screech owl, but it's much too small to bother with cats or dogs. It's only 9 inches in length. They've nested in bird houses.

      We have kept our cats on a screened porch so they have the fresh air and excitement of the activity in the woods, but no dangers to themselves from disease and predator animals. It also helps the bird population since cats kill 500 million birds a year. Mostly not even due to hunger, but the instinct of chase and kill.

      Delete
  12. AnonymousJuly 20, 2013

    I am not taking any chances ! I just got a kitten and want her to be both and indoor and outdoor cat. I want her to experience the outdoors but I won't be able to do this. We have huge hawks circleing our skies and they must be territoral because they never leave. This spring I saw one of the hawks sitting on the ground across the road from where we live which is in the country. I got my binoculars out to watch him and I noticed her was sitting on top of a squirrel. I don't know if he was smothering the poor thing or what but he was just sitting on him waiting for him to die. I watched as the squirrel would flopp his tail around as if to try to escape but could not. This lasted for about half an hour. I then stopped watching. I don't know what happened then. I think the squirrel suffered and I would not risk letting my kitty out. I actually want to shoot those hawks but my husband says that it is against the law. I really dislike those raptors !!!

    ReplyDelete
  13. The sad fact is there's a multitude of problems associated with leaving a cat explore outdoors besides having a shortened life span. Here's a PDF listing possible problems.

    Experiencing the great outdoors is not so great when you realize all that a cat can encounter in a day's walk-about. I love the outdoors and would feel starved and trapped without being able to get fresh air, hear the trees rustle in the breeze, smell the scents of blooming flowers, etc. I use the screened porch a lot to get my fresh air and our cats have done the same. I think what is exciting for a cat is the scents and smells that change from time to time. One night a skunk might have sprayed not far off ... that kind of change.

    I love birds, but I know what you mean about raptors. Horrible situation until we come to the time when lions will be laying with lambs. Raptors are beautiful birds and obviously need to eat also ... but it's not a pretty sight to see. However, sometimes squirrels and cats tails do that for quite a period of time as the nervous system is still reacting, especially in these high-strung animals.

    Hawks usually make sure they grab and kill in a pretty swift method because squirrels are real fighters with long claws themselves and good teeth, so a raptor can't take any chances that it doesn't grab it "just right" and kill it with its beak almost instantly, it can get torn up itself. I don't think you could simply stand on a squirrel without it fighting if it were still alive. A flickering tail probably indicated death but the hawk was waiting for the nervous system to stop responding.

    ReplyDelete
  14. In Northern Australia large eagles have been known to attack and kill lambs some times farmers have found dogs and feral cats that have been disemboweled by these birds also.

    ReplyDelete

Note: All comments need to be approved before they post.