Owl, the bird with heart shaped face, comes into action during night. The owl attacks its prey at night; it is the time when most of the creatures are in rest mode. The diet of an owl includes insects, small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, mice, shrews, and voles. These nocturnal birds are found all around the world, except polar regions, such as, Antarctica and Greenland. There are more than 220 known species of owls. Owls are classified into two types: typical owls and barn owls. Typical owls have round shaped faces, shorter legs, and smaller heads than barn owls. While barn owls have heart shaped faces, long legs, and big heads. Another remarkable difference between these owls is the feathered ear tufts. A typical owl has raised ear tufts. Let us explore some interesting and amazing fact about owls.
Scientific Name: Athene noctua
Family: Strigidae (typical owls), Tytonidae (barn owls)
Species: More than 220
Diet: Insects, small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, mice, shrews, voles
Size: Body 12 to 71 cm (varies specie to specie)
Weight: 1.6 to 3 kg (varies from specie to specie)
Life Span: 5 to 25 years
Natural Habitat: Tree holes, tree trunks, farms, bushes, forests, and barns
Call: Hoots, whistles, screeches, screams, purrs, snorts, chitters, and hisses
Gestation Period: 209-217 days
Number of Offspring: 1-4
Interesting And Fun Facts About Owls
- Owls are well-known as the night-time birds; but snowy owl, one of the species of owl is diurnal, which means that they are active in night as well as day.
- An owl’s neck has 14 vertebrae that are twice as much as the human being’s neck. These vertebrae allow the owl to rotate its neck at 270 degrees in both sides and thus, this fact belies the common myth that an owl can turn its head in full circle.
- Although owls can’t clearly notice an object placed at a few centimetres, but they have excellent binocular vision that helps them in locating their food.
- Owls have forward facing eyes that are wedged in their sockets. This is the reason why an owl cannot move its eyeballs, but rotates its neck to look around.
- Unlike most animals, they have three eyelids: one for blinking, second for sleeping, and third for keeping eyes tidy.
- Owls don’t have ears as such, but they do have slits on both sides of the head, just behind their facial disks.
- The foot structure of an owl is known as zygodactyls. It is so because two of their toes face backward and the other two toes face forward. It helps them in perching and gripping the prey.
- The female owls are heavier and feistier than the male owls. They can weigh as much as 25% more than the males.
- People are scared of owls because owls have always been associated with death, occult, and witchcraft. But in some other places, owls are considered auspicious and linked with wisdom.
- Owls can communicate with different sounds.
- Owls have an exceptional hearing capability. They can hear the movement of their prey from a long distance. Moreover, they can open and close their ears.
- Even though owls like to live aloof, but interestingly a group of owls is called “Parliament” because owls are considered as the birds with wise character.
- Owls are known as the birds of prey because these birds hunt on living creatures to obtain food.
- The feathered and light body of owl gives it a quiet flight and therefore an owl catches its food easily and quietly.
- Owls have long been found in France’s cave paintings, Egyptian hieroglyphics, and in Mayan art, which shows that they have been artistic symbols since the ancient period.
- Owls are farsighted and they cannot clearly see an object or prey within a few centimetres of their sight. They can only feel the hunted prey with the help of filopumes: feathers on their beak and feet.
- Elf owl is the smallest specie of owl, weighing about 31 g and measuring 13.5 cm.
- The great grey owl is the longest owl that measures between 70 cm to 84 cm, while the similar-sized eagle owls—the eurasian eagle owl and blackiston’s fish owl—are the heaviest ones.
- The eggs of an owl do not hatch at the same time as they are laid at the intervals of 1 to 3 days.
- Although owls are nocturnal, but there are several other species that are crepuscular in nature: they remain active during the twilight hours of dawn and dusk, for example, the pygmy owls of glaucidium genus.
- The dull colour and serrated edges of owl’s feathers can keep it almost invisible and silent while hunting.
- An owl regurgitates the indigestible parts of its prey; such as, bones, scales, bills, claws, teeth, and furs in the form of pellets. These pellets are used as learning aids for dissection at the school level.
- The strong talons and beak of an owl kills the prey by crushing the skull and kneading the body.
- The talons of owl can have different crushing power, depending upon the size of owl. The release pressure of burrowing owl is 500g while the great hound owl possesses a release pressure of 13000 g.
- The rough and knobby underside of talon enables an owl to grasp and hold the prey, without keeping the muscles contracted.
- Owls can easily camouflage themselves with the surroundings; for example, the white owl can imitate the snowy surroundings perfectly with its white feathers and the muted wood owl becomes almost invisible with the shades of brown, tan, and black on its body and feathers.
- Owls were often associated with the god of death, Aztec.
- In the hindu mythology, owl is considered as the vahana of goddess Lakshmi.
- Owls are used for controlling the rodent population in different parts of the world. Farmers install owl nest boxes in and around their farms or vineyards to control the population of rodents.