Fascinating Owl Facts

  • Many owl species have asymmetrical ears that are different sizes and different heights on their heads.
  • The ears gives the birds superior hearing and the ability to pinpoint where prey is located, even if they can’t see it.
  • The flattened facial disk of an owl funnels sound to the bird’s ears and magnifies it as much as ten times to help the owl hear noises that humans can’t detect.
  • Owls are capable of hearing prey under leaves, plants, dirt and snow.
  • Owls are very quiet in flight compared to other birds of prey, with their broad wings and light bodies also making them nearly silent fliers, which helps them stalk prey more easily.
  • Owls have specialized feathers with fringes of varying softness that help muffle sound when they fly.
  • The colour of an owl’s feathers helps them blend into their environment (camouflage).
  • The female is often more richly coloured than the male.
  • Most owls communicate through calls and hoots.
  • The can also make facial expressions.
  • Not all owls hoot and owls can make a wide range of other sounds such as screeches, whistles, barks, growls, rattles and hisses.
  • Female owls generally have higher voices than their mates.
  • How often an owl is seen during the day, depends on the seasonal amount of daylight and darkness, food supplies and  habitat.
  • Most owls do not migrate but they can be nomadic in searching for the best food sources.
  • Owls have been found in fossil records up to 58 million years ago
  • Owls have long been cultural symbols and they have been found depicted in cave paintings in France, in Egyptian hieroglyphics and even in Mayan art.
  • Today, owl superstitions and legends associate the birds with bad luck, death and stealing souls in many cultures.
  • The biggest modern threats to owls are habitat loss, pesticides that poison the birds and their food supplies, and human persecution because of negative superstitions.
  • Barn owls mate for life. They cuddle with their mate and babies. When one mate dies, the other one becomes depressed and might even die too.
  • There are roughly around 200 different owl species.
  • All owls can be divided in two large groups: barn owls (Family Tytonidae) and true owls (Family Strigidae).
  • True owls are a more diverse group of owl species that vary in size, colour and appearance.
  • Owls are found in all different habitats
  • There are different owl species found on all , except Antarctica.
  • The greatest number of owl species are found in forested habitats, but they can be found anywhere that prey is abundant, including urban and suburban areas.
  • Most owls don’t build nests, but lay their eggs in the crook of a tree or hole.
  • Most owls have adapted to hunting at night (nocturnal).
  • A group of owls is called a parliament, wisdom, bazaar or study.
  • Baby owls are called owlets.
  • The parents always feed the oldest and strongest owlet before it’s sibling, which means that if food is scarce, the youngest chicks will starve.
  • After an owlet leaves the nest, it often lives nearby in the same tree and it’s parents still bring it food.
  • For most owl species, females are larger, heavier and more aggressive than males.
  • Owls are carnivorous and will eat rodents, small or medium sized mammals, nocturnal insects, fish and other birds, including smaller birds and even other owls.
  • Owls are natural pest control for farmers.
  • Owls swallow their prey whole, without biting or chewing, since, like all birds, they do not have teeth.
  • Most of the animal is digested, but the parts that can’t be broken down—like bones, fur, and feathers—are regurgitated as a hard lump, called a “pellet,” a few hours after the owl’s meal.
  • Owls have powerful talons (claws) which help them catch and kill prey.
  • Owls have zygodactyl feet with two toes pointing forward and two toes pointing backward, and all their toes have sharp talons.
  • Owls have large eyes and a flat face.
  • Owls are farsighted, meaning they can’t see things close to their eyes clearly.
  • The size of their eyes helps them see in the dark.
  • An owl’s eyes are supported by bony eye sockets and they cannot turn their eyes. Instead, owls rotate their heads up to 270 degrees (135 degrees to either side)
  • An owl has three eyelids: one for blinking, one for sleeping and one for keeping the eye clean and healthy
  • The third eyelid is also called the nictitating membrane, and many other birds also have it, including other raptors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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