Top 10 Owl Facts

Owls are special creatures with different life-styles and behaviors, as well as being stars in movies such as Harry Potter series. Here are a few fun facts about owls.

1. The Great Horned Owl is the only predator that will regularly eat skunks.

great-horned-owl

2.  Great Horned Owls will eat other owls, including my favorite owl, the Barred Owl.

3.  Barn Owls are found the world over.  Their range includes North America, South America, Europe, Africa, India, Southeast Asia, and Australia.   They swallow their prey whole: skin, bones, and all. They may eat up to 1,000 mice each year.  They regurgitate the un-digestable items in a ball called an owl pellet.  Owls can be hard to find when roosting.  Finding owl pellets is sometimes the easiest way to find an owl roosting location.

barn-owl

owl-pelletOwl Pellet

4. Many owl species have asymmetrical ears, i.e. one ear is slightly higher on the head than the other.  Owls have extremely good hearing and the slightly offset location of the ears helps them hone in on the exact location of a sound.

5. The smallest owl in the world is the Elf Owl, which is 5 - 6 inches tall and weighs about 1 ½ ounces.

The largest North American owl, in length, is the Great Gray Owl, which is up to 32 inches tall.  Owls such as the Eurasian Eagle Owl are not as long but are heavier.

great-gray-owl
6. What about those eyes?  

The eyes are fixed and are more of tube-shape than round.  They can not be moved to allow the owl to peak to the right or left without moving their head. Unlike many birds, their eyes are on the front of their face, more human like from that perspective, and provides the owl with great depth perception.  

7.  So do those eyes really work well at a distance?
The Northern Hawk Owl can detect a vole up to a half a mile away.  A combination of sight and sound help it pinpoint its prey.
 
7. What about the neck, can the owl rotate its head 360 Degrees?

To compensate for not being able to move their eyes, Owls can rotate their necks 270 degrees. A blood-pooling system stores blood to power their brains and eyes when the head rotates so far the blood to the is cut off.
 
8. A group of owls is called a parliament. This is throughout to originate from C.S. Lewis’ description of a meeting of owls in The Chronicles of Narnia.

9. Owls have special feathers that muffle their sound of their wingbeats, along them to move silently through the forest in search of prey.

10. Owls have a reputation of being active at night.  Some species are a little more active during the day than on might think.  The Barred Owl and the Short-eared Owl are crepuscular are active near dawn and at dusk.  Short-eared owls hunt by silently gliding over open fields, in a behavior similar to the hunting style of the Northern Harrier.