Amanda has taught high school science for over 10 years. They have a Master's Degree in Cellular and Molecular Physiology from Tufts Medical School and a Master's of Teaching from Simmons College. They also are certified in secondary special education, biology, and physics in Massachusetts.
What Is a Food Chain?
A food chain is the linear transfer of energy from one organism to the next. Energy transfers between the organisms as food. A food chain basically shows what eats what in a particular ecosystem. A food web is similar, but it is a collage of many food chains put together and is more complicated. Both food chains and food webs have different layers called trophic layers. The bottom trophic layer is the producers. Producers make their own food and provide energy for the rest of the food chain. Primary consumers eat the producers. Primary consumers are herbivores, eating only plants. Secondary consumers are carnivores that only eat the meat of the primary consumers. Tertiary consumers are the ultimate top predators of a food chain. They eat the primary and secondary consumers and keep the ecosystem in balance. In most cases, owls are the top predator in their ecosystem.
An error occurred trying to load this video.
Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.
You must cCreate an account to continue watching
Register to view this lesson
As a member, you'll also get unlimited access to over 84,000 lessons in math, English, science, history, and more. Plus, get practice tests, quizzes, and personalized coaching to help you succeed.
Get unlimited access to over 84,000 lessons.Try it now
Already registered? Log in here for accessBack
- 0:00 What Is a Food Chain?
- 0:59 Types of Owls
- 1:54 Barn Owl Food Chain
- 2:32 Great Horned Owl Food Chain
- 3:14 Importance
- 3:52 Lesson Summary
Types of Owls
Over 200 species of owls thrive around the globe! Owls are carnivorous birds that are adapted to live in many environments. They survive on all continents except Antarctica. All owls fly, but not all live in trees. The burrowing owl actually burrows in the ground, using its long legs to run after small prey like rodents. The burrowing owl lives in the Mid-Western United States to the Pacific Coast and north into Canada.
Other owls can grow to extremely large sizes, such as the Blakiston's fish owl, which has a wingspan of six feet and can weigh up to ten pounds! This large bird is extremely rare and only lives in Russia and Northern Japan.
Today we will look at the food chain of two common owls, the barn owl and the great horned owl. Being strict carnivores, most owls live at the top of the food chain.
Barn Owl Food Chain
The barn owl lives in many diverse environments and can be found all over the world. Barn owls look different from other owls because of their heart shaped faces. They are known to nest in barns, hence the name. Barn owls eat mainly rodents, such as voles, mice and rats. These animals are all secondary consumers. They eat primary consumers, like bugs, as well as producers like fruits, seeds and other plants. The producers in the barn owl's food chain depend on the habitat. Usually fruit bearing trees, grasses and small shrubs provide food for the insects the rodents eat.
Great Horned Owl Food Chain
The great horned owl is the ultimate top predator. They live from the Arctic all through North and South America. It will eat almost anything, including domestic cats. So, if you live near the forest, make sure you keep an eye on your beloved pet! A great horned owl will whisk it away in a second. Great horned owls eat larger prey, such as rabbits, hares, weasels, woodchucks and even bats! Rabbits, hares, woodchucks and bats are primary consumers. Weasels are secondary consumers, eating large prey similar to the great horned owl, such as rabbits, or eggs when available. The rabbits are primary consumers, eating grass and fruit, which are the producers.
Tertiary predators sometimes are considered keystone species. They are essential for keeping an ecosystem in balance. The keystone species eats primary and secondary consumers, preventing their population from growing out of control. Without the keystone species, primary consumers would eat all of the producers. Since producers are the base for the food chain, the entire ecosystem would collapse. Although owls like the barn owl and great horned owl are common, others, such as Blakiston's fish owl, are in danger of going extinct due to illegal hunting and destruction of habitat.
In summary, a food chain is a diagram that shows the linear transfer of energy between species in an ecosystem. The producers form the base of the food chain, making their own food. Primary consumers eat only the producers, and the secondary consumers eat the primary consumers. Tertiary consumers are top predators and eat both primary and secondary consumers.
Owls are usually the top predator in the ecosystem. Barn owls eat rodents, the secondary consumer, which eats insects, the primary consumer. The great horned owl eats larger prey, such as weasels, which are a secondary consumer. The weasels eat rabbits, a primary consumer. In both food chains, grasses, fruits and small shrubs are the producers. Tertiary consumers, like owls, are keystone species, which are essential to keeping the ecosystem in balance.
To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account
Register to view this lesson
Unlock Your Education
See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com
Become a Study.com member and start learning now.Become a Member
Already a member? Log InBack
Owl Food Chain
Related Study Materials
Explore our library of over 84,000 lessons
- College Courses
- High School Courses
- Other Courses
- Create a Goal
- Create custom courses
- Get your questions answered