Do Owls Hibernate? (No – Here’s How they Survive Winter)

Do Owls Hibernate

Owls do not hibernate, because they don’t need to. They are well adapted to the cold thanks to their warm feathers, and they can easily get food even in the winter because they have strong senses that allow them to do just that.

Often, when the weather gets cold, most animals will either migrate or start hibernation to survive the winter. But the owl is one of the rare exceptions. The owl has one of the most powerful senses of hearing and vision, allowing it to hunt even during the winter. This enables it to stay out there without needing to hibernate.

Why Don’t Owls Hibernate?

Most owls do not hibernate during the winter, although some owls might do it. There are many reasons why they don’t need to hibernate – they have thick feathers allowing them to survive the cold, and they’re also good at hunting during the winter, so they don’t need to hibernate.

Thanks to their bodily features and exceptionally sharp hearing and visual skills, owls are adept at surviving the winter without having to migrate or hibernate. In some areas, owls are forced to hibernate, though. This is because of a lack of food and other opportunities for survival in those areas.

In most cases though, owls don’t have the need to hibernate. This is thanks to their body features and their hunting skills that allow them to survive the winter without hibernation. Here are the main features of the owl that allow them to not hibernate during the winter.

1. Thick Feathers

Did you know that owls have an extra layer of feathers that allow them to survive the cold during the winter?

Unlike other birds, owls have this adaptive quality that allows them to sustain and survive even the coldest of temperatures. Thanks to this extra layer of thick feathers, owls can stay outdoors for longer than most birds, and they can even stay outdoors when temperatures drop well below freezing.

This extra layer is located right below the usual layer of feathers. Its purpose is to trap warm air and keep it near the body of the owl so that it stays as warm as possible. With this mechanism, the owl can stay outdoors even when it gets very cold.

In addition, owls are also warm-blooded animals, so they have internal mechanisms that allow them to regulate their body temps. And when it gets too cold, they will shelter in and heat up before they head out again.

Related Article: Do Big Owls Eat Other Owls?

2. Exceptional Hunting Skills

An additional feature of the owl that allows it to stay outdoors in the winter and not hibernate is its exceptional hunting skills. With their powerful senses of vision and hearing, owls can hunt at night and even in colder temperatures when there is seemingly not much life out there.

For example, thanks to their powerful hearing, they can detect animals that have buried themselves under the snow or under other surfaces, allowing them to spot these animals and hunt them down. 

So even when it seems as though there are no animals or food to be had, owls can dig up animals that have hidden and eat them, allowing them to stay active even during winter. In some areas of the world, this is not possible, so the owls might be forced to hibernate in those areas.

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3. Their Feet 

Owls also have another interesting feature that not many other birds have – they have a special type of feet that enable them to provide extra heat for their body to stay warm during the winter.

Their feet don’t feel the cold since they don’t have the heat receptors as they are found on other body parts of the owl. The great thing about these feet is that they allow the owl to stay on cold surfaces and not feel the effects of the cold, even though they might be standing on frozen ground.

This enables the owl to stay outdoors since the cold doesn’t translate into other body parts of the owl, even if it finds itself in colder areas with frozen ground. It’s a powerful and often underestimated mechanism of the owl to withstand the cold.

Do Owls Migrate?

When the weather gets colder, most birds migrate to warmer areas of the world, but owls do not migrate. Instead, they stay in their area and stay outdoors even during winter, while some owls might be forced to hibernate, too.

The vast majority of birds do migrate when the winter comes around. They go to warmer spots of the world to find better living conditions for themselves and their families. Some birds will mass-migrate in big numbers so that they stay safe from threats when they are migrating.

However, owls are not the same. They don’t need to migrate because they can survive just as well in their area without having to migrate. As already mentioned, the vast majority of owl breeds can withstand very cold temperatures thanks to their bodily features. Some might even hibernate when it gets very cold.

In addition, owls can find food even when it gets cold, so they don’t need to migrate because of a lack of food sources. 

How Do Owls Survive the Winter?

Owls can survive the winter as they are able to hunt down animals that hide in the snow and in other features of the world, as they have very powerful senses.

Most animals that hibernate will do so because there are no foods around them that they can eat. However, owls can survive even without food since they are good hunters even in the winter. They can also survive the cold thanks to their body features that enable them to withstand the cold.


Owls are very adaptable animals. They can survive the cold and they don’t need to hibernate or migrate. They’re exceptional hunters that can dig up hidden animals such as rodents during the winter, allowing them to stay active even when it gets very cold.

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