can owls fly in the rain

Can owls fly in the rain? Owls, these amazing creatures of the night, have always fascinated and captivated humans with their incredible hunting skills and ability to fly silently.

Their impressive ability to navigate in the dark and their sharp vision have been thoroughly examined and appreciated.

But, there are inquiries regarding their flying skills in challenging weather conditions. So, can owls fly when wet?

Yes, owls can fly in the rain, but they do not prefer these conditions because it becomes difficult for them to fly when their feathers become too wet. 

Can Owls Fly in the Rain?

owls' rainy flight capability

The quick answer is “Yes, they can.” But, “Not very well.”

It means that owls can fly in the rain when they have to, but they eventually lose that ability when they get very wet.

Owls have evolved impressive adaptations that allow them to navigate and hunt effectively even in rainy conditions.

But ultimately, it depends on how severe the weather conditions are

How Do Owls Fly in the Rain?

how do owls fly in the rain

As mentioned already, owls do not really like those rainy days because it makes it harder for them to hear or see their prey.

Nonetheless, some owl species are still very much capable of flying in the rain. For instance, barn owls are equipped with feathers strong enough to manage wet conditions.

Moreover, their features are quite water-resistant, which is what helps them stay dry while flying.  

But all this also depends on different species, and there are quite a few of them.

For instance:

Owl SpeciesRegions of Habitat
Barn owlEverywhere except Antarctica
Snowy owlCentral, North, and South America
Great horned owlCentral, north, and South America
Eastern screech owlMain north and eastern America
Indian scops owlParts of Southeast Asia
Fact: Barn owls are also able to manage wet conditions better because they have excellent hearing abilities as well as large eyes.   

How Do Other Owl Species Manage Rainy Days?

how owls handle rainy days

Again, many owl species have evolved over time to deal with severe weather conditions.

For instance: 

They have an Improved Wing Structure

With wings that can reach up to six feet in certain species, their wide wingspan is essential for maintaining stability while flying in rainy conditions.

Researchers have discovered that the front edge of the wings of many owl species is adorned with serrated feathers.

they have an improved wing structure

This unique feature helps decrease air turbulence and keep noise levels to a minimum while in flight. 

An Important Consideration

Additionally, the wings of these birds have fringed feathers on their trailing edge. These feathers play a crucial role in disrupting airflow and creating lift

The special feather adaptations of owls allow them to effortlessly glide through raindrops without disturbing their flight.

Fact: The European eagle owl holds the title of being the biggest owl. It tips the scales at 8 pounds and measures a solid 30 inches in length. 

They have Water-Resistant Feathers

they have water-resistant feathers

The water-resistant feathers of many owl species are truly impressive, enabling them to soar through the rain and maintain their hunting prowess.

Studies show that their feathers have a unique coating of oils that serve as a natural water repellent.  

The feathers of the owl are water-resistant and provide great insulation, helping to keep the owl warm even in wet and cold weather.

But, of course, that is not for all owl species. 

They Rely on the Silent Flight Mechanism

they rely on silent flight mechanism

When it is raining, while other birds may find it challenging to deal with the extra noise caused by wet feathers, owls have a distinct advantage with their silent flight.

According to a study published in Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, their wing feathers have unique serrated edges and a velvety texture.

These features work in harmony to minimize aerodynamic noise while flying.

Owls possess an extraordinary ability that allows them to effortlessly soar through the air, silently closing in on their prey with remarkable stealth and accuracy.

Their ability to fly silently allows them to achieve an impressive success rate of up to 90% when hunting for prey. 

They Have Adapted Many Strategies

they have adapted many strategies

Owls truly demonstrate their versatility by employing clever tactics to hunt effectively even in rainy weather.

Owls have been observed adapting their hunting strategies to take advantage of rainy conditions.

They could search for perches in protected spots, like beneath the cover of trees, where they can patiently await prey without getting wet from the rain.

Owls’ ability to adapt their hunting behavior demonstrates their resourcefulness in challenging weather conditions, highlighting their impressive survival skills

Fact: Owls lack traditional ears and instead possess ear slits that aid in capturing sounds, enabling them to pinpoint the precise location of their prey. 

They can Regulate Body Temperature

they can regulate body temperature

While it depends on the owl species, they can usually regulate their body temperature.

The efficient regulation of body temperature in owls is crucial for their ability to soar through rainy conditions.

Research shows that owls have a notably higher body temperature than numerous other bird species.

The increased body temperature of these birds helps protect against water absorption through their feathers, minimizing the chance of getting soaked and weighed down in the rain.

It is super important for owls to keep their body temperature up when it is raining. This helps them stay warm and stay on the move.   

An Important Consideration

Owls’ remarkable resilience and adaptability can be attributed to their impressive ability to effectively regulate body temperature.

It enables them to flourish in different environmental conditions, even in wet weather, all while maintaining their reputation as adept nocturnal hunters

Fact: Owls use their claws for hunting, and those claws are called talons, which assist in capturing their prey. 

Why Is It Harder for Owls to Fly in the Rain?

challenges of owls flying in rain

So, you may have found the answer to, “Why can owls fly in the rain?” But, you may also be wondering why they do not really like it.

Here are some possible explanations: 

Not All of them Have Weather-Resistant Feathers

Owls are nocturnal birds of prey that have evolved to excel in nighttime hunting.

With their distinct physical attributes like plush feathers and expansive eyes, they possess the perfect tools for hunting in dimly lit environments.

Contrary to their avian counterparts, owls lack water-resistant feathers.  To avoid issues with flying, owls will extend their wings when it rains.

In doing so, they create a protective shelter that envelops their entire being, ensuring they remain shielded from the rain.

Fact: This adaptation is crucial because if an owl becomes excessively wet during hunting, it may face difficulties returning to its nest or locating food. 

Wet Feathers Get Heavy

wet feathers get heavy

It is probably the main reason why owls do not like to fly in the rain. With those feathers getting wet, it becomes difficult for them to fly – that excessive moisture weighs them down.

In fact, if they get overly wet, they find it difficult to take off from the ground.

And that is perhaps the reason why they like to stay in a shelter in heavy rain

Wet Tails Cause Problems

The function of an owl’s tail is linked to a specific oil gland located at its base, while its water-resistant feathers help in the upkeep of its flight.

This enables them to soar and capture prey even during wet and rainy conditions.

wet tails cause problems

No matter the circumstances, if they are subjected to extended periods of rain or submerged in water, their feathers may become damp and lose their ability to repel water

An Important Consideration

It is crucial for owls residing in chilly regions, as getting soaked can greatly affect their capacity to maintain warmth.   

Owl Need More Energy to Fly with Wet Feathers

Owls, being creatures of the night, hunt during the darkness and therefore must conserve their energy during the daytime.

owls' increased energy requirement for wet flight

When flying in a downpour, birds need to exert extra energy due to the added weight of their soaked feathers.

Hence, it is logical for owls to conserve their energy by refraining from flying in intense rain whenever they can. 

An Important Consideration

It is important to understand that owl species vary significantly.

Some of them may exhibit a higher level of tolerance towards rainy weather compared to others.

Fact: Snowy owls are famous for their ability to breed and hunt in the Arctic, where snowfall is a constant occurrence all year round.


do owls fly in rain

Can owls fly in the rain? Yes, owls like most birds can fly in the rain. But, they do not really like rainy conditions because it challenges their sense of sights and hearing.

Nevertheless, they have water-resistant feathers with other behavioral adaptations to hunt even in the rain.

Just bear in mind that some species of owls are probably more suitable for flying and hunting in the rain than others.