It’s a bird…It’s a plane…no, actually it’s a bird. More specifically, the wisest bird of them all, THE OWL! Want to know more about these awesome predators? Here are 25 Awesome Owl Facts You’ll Want To Know!
There are 216 species of owls around the world.
Owls can be found in almost every continent except for Antarctica. The greatest population of owls can be found in Asia. Within the United States and Canada, there are only around 19 species.
Owls have tubular eyes.
Owl eyes are not circular like most animals; they have tubes that go all the way to the back of the skull, giving them great far sighted vision. They can spot prey from yards away. The only downside is their eyes cannot move at all, they have to turn their heads to see.
An owl has 3 eyelids.
Each eyelid has its own function; the first is for blinking, the second is for sleeping, and the third one is for keeping the eye clean and healthy.
Owls cannot turn their heads a full 360 degrees.
The bones, blood vessels, and supporting vascular (vein) system have all adapted so that owls are able to turn their heads 135 degrees in whichever direction they need to.
Owls have flat faces.
A flat surface allows sound to be heard better, up to ten times better for owls. This allows them to hear things that even humans can’t hear!
Owls have super strong hearing.
Owls are able to hear prey in any type of environment, such as underneath leaves, dirt, and even snow! Their strong hearing can be attributed to the fact that they have multiple sets of ears around their head specialized for hearing a number of sounds at different decibels.
The ear-like structures on the owl aren't actual ears
These ear tufts are just a bundle of feathers that show the owls mood; they can show if the owl is angry, sad, etc.
During flight, owls are completely silent.
Their down feathers (used for insulation in other birds) are spread out to break down turbulence which in turn mutes the flight sounds.
Female owls are larger than the males.
For most owl species, the female owls are larger, stronger, and more aggressive than the males. They are also usually more colorful.
Owls are strictly carnivores.
Their diet consists of rodents, small or medium sized mammals, fish, and other birds. (Sometimes they will eat other owls!)
Owls do not have teeth.
While most carnivores have sharp teeth to eat their food, owls do not. If they are going to break apart their food, they use their talons.
Owls swallow their prey whole.
After capturing and crushing their prey with their talons, the owl will most likely either eat the prey whole or rip it apart depending on its size. After consumption the owl’s digestive tract will compact the indigestible parts (like fur, and bones) and release it in the form of a pellet.
The strongest babies are fed first.
Mother owls will choose their strongest and oldest babies first. This means that if there is not much food, the younger and smaller babies will most likely not get any.
Owls are a natural pest control.
Many farmers are installing owl nesting boxes so that they can come and control the rodents from eating all their crops. A single barn owl eats around 3000 rodents in a four month cycle. This method is also better for the population of owls; when poison pesticides are used to kill rodents, they also poison the owls that eat them.
Owls can live in a variety of habitats.
To name a few habitats, some owls live in burrows, cacti, forests, boxes, and the list goes on. You could even attract owls to live in your backyard!
Not all owls migrate.
Unlike other birds that migrate with the changing seasons, owls tend to stay in their habitats, only relocating their nests.
Owls have been around for over 70-80 million years.
Archeologists concluded this after looking at the fossil records. One of the largest owls they found was the Ornimegalonyx oteroi; it was about 3 feet tall.
Not all owls hoot.
Some owls do not hoot at all, and most owls make a variety of other sounds such as screeches, whistles, barks, growls, and hisses. Female owls generally have higher voices than the males; during the mating season they can be heard over a mile away.
A group of owls is called a parliament.
They got this name from The Chronicles of Narnia, written by C.S. Lewis. A group of baby owls are owlets.
Owls are solitary creatures.
They are territorial animals and live fairly close to one another, but they never share the same nest. Owls mark their territory through their hoots.
Owls are important cultural animals.
Owl paintings have been found in prehistoric caves, Egyptian hieroglyphics, and even Mayan art! They were considered symbols of victory and wisdom.
Owls are also a symbol of bad luck.
In African, Native American, and Asian cultures, owls were a sign of coming death and bad luck. It was said that in Ancient Greece, an owl predicted the death of Julius Caesar.
Not all owls are nocturnal.
Depending on the season, amount of light, and food source, owls will adapt to fit their needs. For example, if food supplies are low during the summer, owls will hunt during the day to fulfill their hunger.
Most owls live longer in captivity.
The Great Horned Owl, one of the most commonly seen owls, has an average lifespan of 13 years in the wild and 38 years in captivity. They are one of the few animals that survive longer in captivity.
Owls and Humans get along pretty well.
Owls are intelligent and sociable animals when not threatened. In some parts of Japan, they have cafes where you can enjoy your food with the company of owls. However, in the United States, it is illegal to have an owl as a pet, sadly.
Photos: 25. Krzych.w(K.P.Wiśniewski), 1Puchacz obronna poza, CC BY-SA 4.0, 24. www.publicdomainpictures.net (public domain), 23. Greg Clarke via flickr, CC BY 2.0, 22. USFS Region 5 via flickr, CC BY 2.0, 21. pixabay.com (public domain), 20. William Warby via flickr, CC BY 2.0, 19. USFWS Mountain-Prairie via flickr, CC BY 2.0, 18. Kristina Servant, Barn Owl flying, CC BY 2.0, 17. pixabay (public domain), 16. Andrew Mercer (www.baldwhiteguy.co.nz), Barking Owl eats prey, CC BY-SA 3.0, 15. Max Pixel (public domain), 14. Caleb Putnam via flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, 13. Kevin Cole from Pacific Coast, USA, Female Burrowing Owl feeding owlet (Athene cunicularia), CC BY 2.0, 12. Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, 2286 barn owl munsel odfw (15034193405), CC BY-SA 2.0, 11. Cheryl Reynolds, Burrowing Owl Family in Antioch, CC BY-SA 3.0, 10. MyAngelG via flickr, CC BY 2.0, 9. Richerman, Short-eared owl chick, CC BY-SA 3.0, 8. lensnmatter via flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, 7. travelwayoflife, Athene cunicularia 20110524 02, CC BY-SA 2.0, 6. nature80020 via flickr, CC BY 2.0, 5. wikimedia commons (public domain), 4. belgianchocolate via flickr, CC BY 2.0, 3. Athene_noctua_(portrait).jpg: Trebol-a derivative work:Stemonitis (talk), Athene noctua (cropped), CC BY-SA 3.0, 2. No machine-readable author provided. Emery~commonswiki assumed (based on copyright claims)., GreatHornedOwl-Wiki, CC BY-SA 3.0, 1. www.pixnio.com (public domain)