Owls: Amazing Facts that you didn't know!
There are thousands of bird species on our beautiful planet, but one of the most unique by far has to be the owl. With a distinctively flat face and deadly silent wings, these winged beasts are highly intelligent, stealthy, and capable of so much more than you’d initially think! In all, there are close to 200 species of owls; here are some things you may not have known about them!
Owls are One of Few Nocturnal Birds
You’ve probably heard the expression “early bird gets the worm,” referring to the fact that most birds go to sleep at dusk and are wide awake at the crack of dawn. Owls are one of only a few different bird species such as the nightingale, night-herons, and night parrots. What sets them apart from this special group? Well, owls are the only ones who don’t sing! They do make some noises, but in order to hunt at night, they have to be as quiet as possible.
Owls Rarely Hoot
Growing up, you probably remember the “hoo” sound that owls made in the movies and television shows. Interestingly enough, it's actually pretty rare for most of these large, predatory birds to hoot. They’re actually more likely to screech, whistle, and create high pitched sounds similarly to the way that bats do. Like bats, owls use their screech to find prey and scare away competitors. Both use echolocation as a means of finding their food, but owls have much better sight.
They Can’t Move Their Eyes
Unlike you and I, owls are completely unable to shift their eyes up, down, left, or right. They’re shaped more like a pair of binoculars, moving in and out of their head as they peer down on their surroundings and listen in for signs of small rodents and snakes. They aren’t blind in the daytime as people frequently assume, their vision just isn’t as sharp. In the dark, the owl has vision that is better than your HD TV. If you look at the physical makeup of an owl you might have noticed that their ears are nowhere in sight!
Their Necks Turn Almost All the Way Around
If you’ve ever seen the movie The Exorcist, the idea of an animal’s head rotating at 360 degrees probably isn’t the most pleasant vision. Actually, owls can’t turn their heads all the way around, but they do have about 270 degrees of movement available to them in either direction. There have been some exceptionally interesting studies done to see how
Owl Ears Lie Flat on the Sides of Their Heads
Cats, dogs, cows, and most mammals have ears that perk up and rotate in the direction of the sound they’re hearing. Owls and birds in general have tiny ears that lie right behind the eyeball, or in this case, eye binoculars. Although you may not be able to see it with the naked eye, some owls have evolved with asymmetrical grooves that heighten their already very keen sense of hearing. Species such as the Great Horned Owl actually have long feathers that branch from the top of their eyes. From a short distance, it looks as if they could have a pair of ears, but it is simply an illusion.
Owls Have a Unique Digestive Systems
Although owls fall under the “birds of prey” category, they do not have teeth and cannot tear apart or chew up meat with their beaks. Instead, they squeeze the life out of their food and place the corpse on the ground. Then, they use their beak and claws to tear off edible pieces that can be swallowed whole.
Now, an owl cannot completely digest the bones and hard pieces of a mouse or a rabbit, so these parts of the animal move into what is called the “gizzard.” Inside this compartment, the hardened pieces will compress and form small to medium sized pellets. Once they’ve formed, the owl will essentially throw them back up, or “regurgitate.”
That being said, the answer is yes…..owls do poop. However, the pellets that they regurgitate are of some value, often they are repackaged and sold online for people to dissect the bones as a fun science project if you’re into that sort of thing!
Baby Owls are a Little Different Than Other Chicks
Baby owls, or “owlets” are born with a single tooth that helps them peck through their egg, which is pretty common for all birds. The tooth falls out eventually, but the thing that sets these babies apart are their hatch dates. Smaller birds tend to hatch closely together, around a day or two in between.
Since owls are bigger, it can be anywhere from two to four days before they have completed their egg laying. Since this process takes a bit longer than the average bird, incubation periods will be different for each egg, and the owlets will hatch several days apart.
Sadly, this often leads to competition within the nest for food and space. Both parents stick around to feed and raise their babies, but when they’re out hunting it is not uncommon for chicks to fight and sometimes kill each other. While it is a sad situation, it is sometimes necessary in nature for animals to cull their offspring in order for the strongest ones to survive.
Do your part to help the owls and donate to a charitable organization!