110 Interesting Facts About Owls


110 Interesting Facts About Owl

  1. There are around 200 different owl species.
  2. Owls are active at night (nocturnal).
  3. Most owls hunt insects, small mammals and other birds.
  4. Some owl species hunt fish.
  5. Owls have powerful talons (claws) which help them catch and kill prey.
  6. Owls have large eyes and a flat face.
  7. Owls are farsighted, meaning they can’t see things close to their eyes clearly.
  8. Owls are very quiet in flight compared to other birds of prey.
  9. The color of owl’s feathers helps them blend into their environment (camouflage).
  10. Barn owls can be recognized by their heart shaped face.
  11. You can find owls in many places, from forests and deserts to mountains and prairies.
  12. It all depends on which species of owl you’re talking about, and there are a staggering 150 documented species of owls (possibly even more, depending on how you classify the different species).
  13. 19 species of owls are found in North America, including the following: barn owl, burrowing owl, eastern screech owl, great grey owl, spotted owl, and the long-eared owl, among many others.
  14. No matter where the owl lives, one thing is certain – they are most active at night.
  15. Unlike us humans, owls are nocturnal and prefer to stay awake and be active at night.
  16. This is why a person who enjoys staying up late at night is often jokingly called a night owl!
  17. Most owls do not go through the trouble of making their own nest – they just use an old tree cavity or another’s bird’s old nest.
  18. The Northern Hawk Owl can detect—primarily by sight—a vole to eat up to a half a mile away.
  19. In fat years when mice are plentiful, usually monogamous Boreal Owls are apt to be promiscuous. Because easy prey means less work for parents feeding their young, males have been caught mating with up to three females, while females have been seen with at least one beau on the side.
  20. Barn Owls swallow their prey whole—skin, bones, and all—and they eat up to 1,000 mice each year.
  21. Northern Saw-whet Owls can travel long distances over large bodies of water. One showed up 70 miles from shore near Montauk, New York.
  22. Females and males often look very similar, but the females are usually about 25 percent larger.
  23. This is thanks to their necks containing double the amount of vertebrae “normal” birds have in their necks. It makes for a very funny sight to see.
  24. Believe it or not, despite having very large eyes, owls do not have eyeballs. They actually have something more like eye tubes.
  25. Lengthened and held in place by sclerotic rings – a bony structure in the skull – this interesting feature means that owls can’t really move or roll their eyes.
  26. Owls are very silent fliers. Seriously, they don’t make a peep when they fly.
  27. This is due mainly to very broad wings and special flying feathers that limit noise when an owl flaps its wings.
  28. An owl has 3 eyelids- one for blinking, one for sleeping and one for keeping its eyes clean.
  29. Owls are carnivores. They eat rodents, small and medium sized mammals, insects, fish, and other birds. Sometimes they even eat smaller owls!
  30. Owls have zygodactyls feet, this means two toes point front and two-point backward. All toes have sharp, hooked claws known as talons. These give them easy grip and a powerful grasp.
  31. Female owls are larger, heavier and more aggressive than the males. They are also more richly coloured and have a higher voice.
  32. Not all species of owls are nocturnal. Many times you might just spot an owl in the day peeping out from its home on the tree. When there is a shortage of food, owls may hunt at anytime during the day.
  33. The Elf Owl which is only 5-6 inch tall is the tiniest owl in the world. The Great Gray Owl which is 32 inch tall is the largest of all owls.
  34. Owls do not have a good sense of smell. But they do have acute hearing and can hear sounds ten miles away.
  35. Owls have good eyesight. They see only black and white, but their eyes are as large as a human’s and 35 times more sensitive. They can see objects with about five percent the amount of light that a human requires.
  36. Owls cannot move their eyes up, down, or side to side like humans can so they have evolved the ability to rotate their heads approximately 270 degrees. They have 14 neck bones. Humans have 7.
  37. Owls bob up and down and puff up to attract their mate.
  38. The life span of a Great Horned Owl is anywhere from fifteen to twenty-five years in captivity.
  39. Their wing span can be up to 2 meters.
  40. Due to the shapes of their wings and softly fringed feather edges, Great Horned Owls are able to fly in near silence and take their prey by surprise. The impact of landing on their prey kills the prey.
  41. Owls cannot actually chew their food because they do not have teeth. They use their beak to tear apart their food and eat it.
  42. Most owls have notably large eyes, a flat face, and a large head. They also have a small, hooked beak that is downturned.
  43. Owls generally have a rigid posture. Imagine trying to stand as straight as possible all of the time – the owl naturally has excellent posture!
  44. Owls are birds of prey, meaning they have to hunt for food to survive.
  45. For this reason, they have very large, sharp talons used for catching their food.
  46. There are four toes on these talons, and one is opposable (like the human thumb) aiding owls in grasping things like tree branches and prey.
  47. The wide eyed, round faced raptors- Owls are mysterious creatures. Famous for being night birds, owls are one of the most interesting living creatures.
  48. There are as many as 200 species of owls around the world! Most of them are found in Asia while 19 are found in the US and Canada.
  49. Owls are found in different kinds of habitat, except in Antarctica. They are mostly found in forested regions.
  50. Have you noticed how wide an owl’s eyes are? Owls actually don’t have eyeballs. Their eyes are long and shaped more like a tube, which restricts them from moving them in their sockets. Owls have binocular vision to help them focus on their prey, perceive the depth and then swoop on it. Their close vision is not as clear which makes them farsighted.
  51. The colour of an owl’s feather helps him camouflage or mix with the environment.
  52. Owls have broad wings and very light bodies which makes them silent fliers.
  53. All species of Owls do not hoot. They make other sounds like screeching, whistling, growling, rattling, even barking and hissing.
  54. Many owl species have asymmetrical ears. When located at different heights on the owl’s head, their ears are able to pinpoint the location of sounds in multiple dimensions. Ready, aim, strike.
  55. A group of owls is called a parliament. This originates from C.S. Lewis’ description of a meeting of owls in The Chronicles of Narnia.
  56. Owls hunt other owls. Great Horned Owls are the top predator of the smaller Barred Owl.
  57. The tiniest 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 appearance, is the Great Gray Owl, which is up to 32 inches tall.
  58. Not all owls hoot! Barn Owls make hissing sounds, the Eastern Screech-Owl whinnies like a horse, and Saw-whet Owls sound like, well, an old whetstone sharpening a saw. Hence the name. 
  59. Owls are zygodactyl, which means their feet have two forward-facing toes and two backward-facing toes. Unlike most other zygodactyl birds, however, owls can pivot one of their back toes forward to help them grip and walk.
  60. The Great Horned Owls’ call sound like “Hoo HooHoooooo HooHoo” The sounds can be heard miles away in a still night.
  61. After the Owl eats its prey, it coughs up little pellets (about the size of your thumb) that are parts of the animal that the owl could not digest. This is made up of bones, skin, and fur or feathers.
  62. They get their name, “the Great Horned Owl”, because of the two tufts on their head and that look like horns
  63. If you’ve ever seen this nighttime animal before, you know that the owl has big, curious eyes and makes a unique “hoot” sound.
  64. Owls are almost famous for their wise appearance because their intelligent eyes glow and they stare so intensely.
  65. You may be surprised to learn that owls are very interesting creatures, and there is a lot to learn about their mysterious ways.
  66. They do a lot more than just hoot all night long!
  67. Owls can be found in all different types of habitats, and every continent except Antarctica contains species of owls.
  68. Although their diet largely depends on the species of owl, most owls like to eat insects, small mammals (like hares and rabbits), and other smaller birds.
  69. It is also common for owls to eat rodents, squirrels, bats, weasels, woodchucks, and even the random domestic cat as well.
  70. Aren’t you happy that your diet isn’t like an owl’s diet?
  71. Some owls, such as the Asian Fish Owl and the African Fishing Owl, can catch fish and eat them.
  72. Owls very rarely drink water – they get most of the hydration they need from the prey they feast on. It is quite rare to see an owl drinking water, but you might see them taking a bath.
  73. The size of an owl may vary, but most owls are at the lower end of the size range, with lengths of about 13–70 cm (5–28 inches) and wingspans between 0.3–2.0 meters (1–6.6 feet).
  74. Believe it or not, despite popular belief, not all owls make that infamous “hoot” sound.
  75. Owls can actually make many different sounds – they can screech, hiss, and even growl!
  76. Believe it or not, the female owl is more aggressive and bigger than the male owl.
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