We think owls are fascinating birds. They are found on every continent except Antarctica and there are over 200 species. They range in size from the smallest owl weighing only 28gms to the largest owl which can weigh 4.5kgs.
Here are some owl facts from the internet just in case you don’t already know them:
- Owls can be divided into two groups: barn and true owls. Barn owls are medium-sized birds with heart-shaped faces, long legs and strong talons. Of all known owls, only 19 species belong to this group. True owls are a more diverse group of owls with around 190 species that vary in size, colour and appearance.
- Owls are carnivores but like all birds they do not chew their food because they don’t have teeth.
- Owls are very successful hunters. That’s because they can fly silently. They have a special kind of soft feather which muffle the sound of their wings moving allowing the bird to approach its prey unnoticed.
- If you think an owl has big ears at the top of their head they are not really ears! Some owls have what look like ears but they are just feather structures. They can’t detect sound but they provide camouflage, show an owl’s mood and can be used to show aggression. However, owls do have excellent hearing. Their ears are located on both sides of the head, behind the eyes. They are often located at different heights, providing better reception of the sound which is important for detection of their prey.
- And, don’t worry, owls can’t really turn their heads 360 degrees. An owl can only move its head to around 270 degrees but that still gives it the appearance of being able to do a complete turn of its head. The owl needs this ability because they are unable to move their eyes within their sockets which means they must turn their heads to see in a different direction.
- Most owls are nocturnal but there are species of owls, including the burrowing owls and short-eared owls, that feed during the day.
- Owls have always been a part of folklore and legend. From cave paintings in France dating back 15,000 to 20,000 years to Egyptian hieroglyphics and Greek mythology the owl has held many symbolic roles in culture and have often represented death, prosperity and wisdom.
- An owl’s foot is zygodactyl … we love this word! … which means that two of the toes face forward and two toes face backwards. This enables the owl to capture and grasp prey with greater ease.
- Not all owls hoot. Owls can make a wide range of other noises including screeches, whistles, growls and hisses.
Here in the UK you can find out more about our owl population and how the RSPB help all our birds by clicking here to go to the RSPB website.
Our favourite owl fact is that a group of owls is called a parliament. We think how wonderful it would be if at Prime Minister’s question time all the MP’s had to dress up as owls. How much fun would that be!!
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