15 Facts About Owls

Owls are some of the most loved birds in the world. They can also be spooky and mysterious, but above all they’re fascinating.

Here are 15 amazing facts about owls.

Barred Owl

Barred owl

01

Number of species

There are more than 150 species of owls in the world, and some counts indicate more than 220 species depending on how different owls are classified. Owls are found on all continents except Antarctica.

Great Grey Owl

Great grey owl

02

Excellent hearing

Most owls have asymmetrical ears of different sizes and at different heights on their heads. This gives them excellent hearing ability and they can pinpoint where prey is located even if they are unable to see it.

Short-Eared Owl

Short-eared owl

03

Rotating heads

Owls cannot rotate their forward facing eyes which are supported in bony eye sockets. Instead they have to turn their heads and although some owls can rotate their heads through 270 degrees it is a myth that they can turn their heads all the way round.

Burrowing Owl

Burrowing owl

04

Multiple eyelids

An owl has three eyelids: one for blinking, one for sleeping and one for keeping the eye clean and healthy.

Spectacled Owl

Spectacled owl

05

Names for owls

A group of owls is called a parliament, wisdom or study and baby owls are known as owlets.

Long-Eared Owl

Long-eared owl

06

Hoots and screeches

Not all owls hoot and they can make a wide range of other sounds such as screeches, barks, hisses and whistles. During the nesting season their calls are at their loudest and can be heard up to a mile away.

Northern Hawk Owl

Northern hawk owl

07

Diet of mice

A barn owl can eat up to 1,000 mice each year, and many farmers try to attract barn owls to help control rodent populations in agricultural fields.

Barn Owl

Barn owl

08

Female owls

In most species, female owls are larger, heavier and more aggressive than males. If the birds are dimorphic, the female is often more richly colored than the male.

Snowy Owl

Snowy owl

09

Nocturnal birds

Not all owl species are nocturnal. How often an owl is seen during the day depends on the seasonal amount of daylight and darkness, food supplies and habitat.

Indian Eagle Owl

Indian eagle-owl

10

Fossil record

Owls have been found in the fossil record up to 58 million years ago. The largest recorded owl fossil, Orinmegalonyx oteroi, stood about three feet tall.

Tawny Owl

Tawny owl

11

Owls preying on owls

Some owls hunt other owls such as great horned owls which are the number one predator of barred owls.

Lesser Sooty Owl

Lesser sooty owl

12

Silent flight

Owls are virtually silent when they fly because they have special feathers that break turbulence into smaller currents and reduces the sound of the air waves, and soft down that muffles noise.

Great Horned Owl

Great-horned owl

13

Death signal

In many cultures the hoot of an owl is considered an unlucky omen and may even signal death.

Eagle Owl

Eurasian eagle-owl

14

Owl pellets

After killing and eating its prey, the owl’s digestive tract processes the parts that can’t be digested such as fur and bones into a compact pellet which the owl later regurgitates.

Eastern Screech Owl

Eastern screech owl

15

Masters of disguise

Many owls sleep in broad daylight hidden in plain sight due to their camouflage which allows them to blend into their surroundings.

BIRD SPOT FORUMS

Bird ID Guides

Learn to identify over 200 British birds

A Bird Friendly Garden

Create a haven for wild birds

Explore more

Stone Curlew

We’ve Hatched A Brand New Website!

First Cuckoo Bramshaw 2021

First Cuckoo Heybridge 2017

First Cuckoo 2016

Save Our Bees

First Cuckoo Chalford 2021

First Cuckoo Beaworthy 2021

First Cuckoo Sandy 2012

Wilson’s Phalarope

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *