Can Owls See during the Day – Or are they Blind in Day?

The owl is very well known to be a night creature. A very majestic animal, which ultimately hunts its prey at night. However, owls do see the same way humans do.

They can’t see in absolute darkness, however by using binocular vision, they can focus and target their prey.

One common question though is can owl’s see during the day? It is a myth really that owls never come out during the day or that they can only see at night!

Can Owls See During The Day

Yes,owls  can see during the day. Their pupils do not shrink therefore they can easily adjust from day to night. An owl’s eye however is not an eyeball. In fact, it is a tube shaped which provides better binocular-focused vision making it easier to catch prey.

However, Owls see better in the night. Reason being is that they have adapted to low light environments. They do though block out excess light in the day using their eyelids, therefore in the day it does look like they are sleepy! An owl has good vision during the day and in some cases, it has been reported that some owls have better daytime vision then humans! Meaning they can see easily in the day!

Why Do Owl’s Tend To Come Out More Often At Night

An owl hunts its prey at night. At a time when the prey is not expecting it or are more active. Furthermore, less competition from other predators such as goshawks meaning less of a risk for the owl. A key prey for owls is Voles, who are mostly active during the night.

Furthermore, in the daytime an owl is more likely to sleep as most are nocturnal creatures. An owl is out all night and dusk hunting; therefore, it needs majority of the day to recover.

However, it is known owls such as the Northern Hawk Owl, do hunt in the day as well! Think of an owl really as a creature who has an opposite time-zone to us. We sleep in the night and are active in the day, however most of us do tend to get up at some point during the night. Owls do the same then just in reverse.


Why would an owl come out in the day?

This is like asking somebody, why would they come out at night? If an owl felt threatened during the day, it would come out and defend itself. However, some larger species of owl may be coming out to attack on its prey.

They don’t face much competition at all from other birds, therefore they do not need to worry! Examples of these birds include the Pygmy owl which does make them diurnal.

Owls can easily sneak up on their prey day and night. Some species have exceptionally light feathers, meaning they make no noise when they fly. A crafty creature then as such. Furthermore, the more they hunt in the day: the better their daytime eyesight gets meaning they can see during the day.

Do Owls Make Noise During The Day

Diurnal species such as the short-eared owl can make a lot of noise during the day. This can be to attract other owls or prey. Most owls are nocturnal, so you won’t hear them. Most people living in urban areas however, wont even hear owls at night, let alone the day!

However, many cultures around the world do believe that hearing an owl is bad luck. It symbolises bad health and/or death! In fact, however, if you do hear an owl, it is most likely protecting their territory from other owls. So, if you do hear an owl, day or night do not worry!

owls can easily see during the day - However they are active mostly at night
owls can easily see during the day – However they are active mostly at night

Are Some Owls Blind During The Day?

No, as their pupils have a very wide scale of adjustment, meaning they can adjust to the light intensity. In fact, some species of owl can see better in daylight than humans! They do have however 3 eyelids.

A normal upper and lower lid for blinking and sleeping. Then a third for cleaning the eye. Of course, sudden high intensity light (for example projected from a LED headlight) can damage their eye.

Can Barn Owls See During The Day?

Yes, they can. This is one of the most common breeds of owl and some of them spend a lot of time just sitting around during the day. Furthermore, some barn owls can also scout fields during the day looking for its nigh-time prey.

It is exceedingly rare that barn owls will actually hunt during the day, due to competition from other predators.

How far Can An Owl See During The Day?

They can see their prey up to half a mile away, An owl can see 270 degrees during the day by rotating its neck. The eye sockets are fixed therefore, they must use their neck to see in other directions. They have 70-degree binocular vision, meaning they can look straight ahead and see things in a 7- degree radius.


Do owls have good eyesight

An owl has similar vision to humans. They can fixate on their prey using binocular vison, and unlike humans, they can twist their neck 270 degrees! However, their eyesight is not the best out of all the birds. It is believed that they are color blind as they don’t have many cones.

However, they do have more rods which allows them to have much better eyesight than other birds at night.

Furthermore, they have overly sensitive eyes, which picks up light easily! This means they can see in the daytime. Their eyes are exceptionally large meaning they do pick up a lot of light rays. This again helps them at night.

However, it can be a hinderance in the daytime, and can damage their eyes! That is why a lot of them squint in areas with a lot of daylight.


Excellent video of A Barn owl Hunting during the day

What Happens If I see An Owl During The Day?

In some cultures, Native American for example, they believe seeing an owl is a sign of death. However, in most cases seeing an owl during the day isn’t much of a big deal. I

t is rare first, there are not too many diurnal owl species about and these species tend to be too busy hunting during the day. Maybe at a bird show you may see an owl during the day, or if the animal man came into school!

The simple factor is though out in the wild, you would be extremely lucky to see an owl in the daylight as it is quite a rare sight.

Related Questions.

How Intelligent Is An Owl? In many stories, such as Winnie The Pooh, an owl is thought to be the wisest. Barn Owls do have a lifespan of 4 years whilst the great horned owl has a lifespan of up to thirteen years! This then contributes to the theory of ‘old and wise’, since an owl does go through a lot. However how wise is an owl?

In all honesty, not as wise as you think! Many other birds such as parrots or crows are known to be more intelligent and better problem solvers. They are excellent hunters.

They are stealthy and sly; they can creep up on their prey easily. Furthermore, most nocturnal owls could not survive very well at all during the day as their eyesight is more used to lower lights. This makes them very vulnerable. However, they do have much better eyesight especially during the day, than other birds.

How do owls see the world? Using 70-degree binocular vision, they can fixate very easily on objects. Their eye profile is incredibly unique! They are 100 times more sensitive to light than humans! This means they do avoid urban down-town areas with a lot of lights, as it hurts them. Instead they like to reside in the quieter woodland areas.

Owls can get scared of humans. They will either attack or fly away. Owls have been known to attack humans before, and cases of owl related deaths are exceedingly rare!

If you don’t provoke an owl, they are calm and quiet. Owls however do know their rivals. They will either hide from them or attack them. Most birds do not prey on the owl due to its size. An owl can sometimes look for potential prey throughout the day, as it’s sharp daytime and night vision will allow it to.

Can Owls See In Total Darkness? Owls can’t see in total darkness. Like humans, they do need a bit of light to see. Therefore, they have big eyes in order to gain as much light as possible. Owls do not live in areas where there is little to no light, as they want to stay alert and safe from other predators.

In Conclusion

Owls can see during the day. However, most of them are adapted to see better at night. This is mainly due to most species being nocturnal and most species being sensitive to light.

An owl can however adjust from day to night very easily. In the daytime most owls are likely to squint to avoid excess light and at night, they open their eyes wide and open to gain as much light to help them hunt.